The Most Important Part of Your Deck is Probably Something You’ve Never Heard of

Chest board on small table on home deck

Before you even consider inviting a neighbor over for some outdoor chess of your deck, make sure your ledger board has been properly installed.

If you are considering adding a deck onto your San Diego home, your head is probably filled with grand ideas, like multiple levels, a built-in niche for a hot tub, or areas for romantic recessed lighting. This is all well and good, but you probably haven’t spent one minute thinking about the most important part of your deck – the ledger board.

Deck are beautiful and fun and allow us to spend quality time outside with our friends and family. Unfortunately for a handful of Americans each year, their deck can turn injurious and even deadly. Deck collapses aren’t common, but they do happen, often causing broken bones, lacerations, concussions, and bruises. Deck collapses have even claimed lives.

One of the most common reasons a deck collapses is because the ledger board is improperly installed and the deck breaks away from the house.

What is a Ledger Board?

A ledger board is a beam that attaches the deck to the home. It is part of the deck frame and also attaches to the deck joists. Typically a ledger board is made from treated lumber.

As you can imagine, it is extremely important that the ledger board be strong and that it be attached to the house and the deck in a firm manner. One very common and dangerous mistake that DIYers do is attach the ledger board using nails. Nails may seem sturdy, but think about it. They are smooth and slender and can easily pull out from their hole, especially if you have a lot of people standing at the front of the deck. Professional deck builders use a special type of screw to attach a ledger board called a ledger lock. For some jobs, they even use hard dip galvanized lag bolts. Lag bolts and ledger locks will stay much more firmly secured than nails and can hold up to lots of deck usage.

Deck builders also make a careful inspection of the ledger board before using it. The board needs to be as straight as possible. Bowing, cupping, or a board with splits or cracks can lead to breakdown and a deck collapse in the future.

Other factors that deck builders consider when installing a ledger include: lateral support and hold down, use of corrosion resistance of bolts, moisture proofing the attachments, and the amount of load placed on the joists.

Building a Safe Deck

Installing the ledger board correctly is only one part of creating a safe and beautiful deck, which is why most homeowners should consider hiring a professional deck builder rather than trying to build their own deck from scratch. Experienced and savvy builders might want to give it a try, but for the rest, put your deck into the hands of experienced, San Diego professionals, like Best-Rate Repair. Call us today for a free deck construction consultation.

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