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6. Installing the Deck joists

Establish the perimeter


The first joists that are installed are the rim joists. These are the two end joists and they attach to the ends of the ledger board and extend across the beam.

Nail one rim joist to the end of the ledger board being sure the crown is up. Position the free end of the rim joist flush with the end of the beam. Repeat this for the other rim joist.

Measure and cut the header joist to length (same length as the beam) and nail it to the free end of the rim joists. You should have four boards in place now, the ledger, 2 rim joists and the header joists. Square off the framing by measuring the diagonal corners. When the measurement is the same the framing is square. Nail the rim joists to the beam using three 3-1/2" framing nails per rim joist.

Lay out the joist spacing

On the header joist and the ledger board measure out joists at 16" on center. Square off your marks using a framing square.

The ledger board will need to have joist hangers installed to carry the joists. Use a short scrap of joist material to act as a guide block for the joist hanger. Position the scrap on your marks and mount the joist hanger being sure to use hanger nails.

Visually inspect each joist to establish the crown of the board. Mark the direction of the crown on the joist with a pencil. Now measure the length of the joists and cut. Remember the length of the joists will be 1-1/2" shorter then the rim joists.

Place a joist into each joist hanger on the ledger board. Make sure the top of the joist is flush with the top of the ledger and that the joist fits tight against the ledger. Secure the joist into the hanger using hanger nails. The building inspector will inspect to make sure the hangers are completely nailed off.

When all the joists are secured in the hanger you can nail through the header joist securing the free end of all the joists. A general rule for nailing is to use one 3-1/3" framing nail for every 2" of joist depth. ie: A 2x10 joist will require 5 nails.

Secure the joists to the beam by toe-nailing through the sides with 3-1/2" framing nails.

Finally the joists need a row of center blocking along their mid span to ad strength to the floor. The maximum allowable span without blocking varies from area to area so check with your building department. As a general rule any span over about 7'-6" will need center blocking.

Joists 16" on center will require blocking that is 14-1/2" long. Simply snap a chalk line across the mid span of the joists and add the blocking into each space between the joists. Nail through the joists into the blocking.

With this step complete it is time for decking.

Next article in the series - Laying the Decking »»

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