When I’m inspecting a deck I’m looking for specific problems, but I’m also looking for workmanship issues.  In other words, does it look like this deck was built by a knowledgeable crew or by a do-it-yourselfer with limited skills?  A deck built by a do-it-yourselfer, probably without a permit, is much more likely to fail in both small and catastrophic ways than one built by a professional.

Here’s another deck construction problem I see a lot, and it’s a big red flag that the deck wasn’t built by a knowledgeable crew.

Here’s a typical deck framed up, with no floor boards installed yet.  There’s a ledger board attached to the house, and joists attached to the ledger (I’m not showing the joist hangers).  Then on the other end these joists are supported on a beam.  The joists might sit on top of the beam as I’m showing here, or they might be attached to the side of the beam with joist hangers.

Now we’ll put down some floor boards.  Here are just a few.

Then people are going to walk on the deck and add loads — shown in red.  No matter how hard you try, those loads are going to be shared among several of the joists, so they’re sized for that situation.  But the load from all of these joists, from everybody on the deck and all the furniture and gear, is going to be taken up by this one beam.  And so this beam has to be strong – certainly it has to be much stronger than each of the individual joists because it carries so much more load.

But sometimes this beam is just a single piece of the same 2-by material as the joists – maybe a 2 by 8 piece of lumber or a 2 by 10.  And this is wrong.  It’s far too small.  This beam needs to be much stronger than the joists.

A knowledgeable deck builder knows this.  Typically a good builder will use 2 pieces of this 2-by lumber to form this beam.  That’s pretty easy to do, it uses materials already on-site, and it works (which of course is the most important thing).  But there are other solutions for this beam so I want to be clear that this isn’t the only way to do it right.

But I do want to be clear that it’s wrong for this beam to be just a single piece of 2-by lumber.  It isn’t strong enough.

Inspection Overview
Why Get a Home Inspection?

Recent Posts

Don’t let your pipes freeze

I’ve heard the question many times: How low should I set my thermostat if I leave town in the winter, to save money but prevent my pipes from freezing? 65 °F?  60 °F?  50?  I

Wood shrinkage

Let’s talk about wood shrinkage. Your hardwood floors are the place where you’re mostly likely to see the problems associated with wood shrinkage, but old panel doors can also experience problems.  In floors, as the

Window condensation

Condensation on windows is a problem that I see a lot in the winter, and I see the damage from window condensation year round.  Here’s some information about the issue. Condensation will occur on a

Attic condensation

Water is your home’s number one enemy.  I’ve said that before, I’m saying it now, and I’ll say it again. Water in your attic can cause problems including mold growth, deterioration of the roof’s plywood

Request Inspection

More Posts You May Find Interesting

Don’t let your pipes freeze

February 7th, 2024|Comments Off on Don’t let your pipes freeze

I’ve heard the question many times: How low should I set my thermostat if I leave town in the winter, to save money but prevent my pipes from freezing? 65 °F?  60 °F?  50?  I

Wood shrinkage

January 16th, 2024|Comments Off on Wood shrinkage

Let’s talk about wood shrinkage. Your hardwood floors are the place where you’re mostly likely to see the problems associated with wood shrinkage, but old panel doors can also experience problems.  In floors, as the

Window condensation

January 10th, 2024|Comments Off on Window condensation

Condensation on windows is a problem that I see a lot in the winter, and I see the damage from window condensation year round.  Here’s some information about the issue. Condensation will occur on a

Attic condensation

January 8th, 2024|Comments Off on Attic condensation

Water is your home’s number one enemy.  I’ve said that before, I’m saying it now, and I’ll say it again. Water in your attic can cause problems including mold growth, deterioration of the roof’s plywood

Priorities

December 22nd, 2023|Comments Off on Priorities

Here’s a short quiz on energy efficiency priorities. Suppose you have two cars, and both get driven about the same number of miles.  One car is kind of old and only gets 20 miles per

Garage Fire Separation

December 18th, 2023|Comments Off on Garage Fire Separation

Separating the house from the garage against the spread of fire is an important part of home safety.  Here are some of the rules that the current version of the International Residential Code (2021) requires.