Beginning in 2001, members of the staff at Virginia Tech's Engineering and Wood Science Departments launched a project to develop and publish an inspection manual for residential decks and balconies. To our surprise, we found that problems with deck attachment are quite common and that the issues are more complex than we had thought. In this article, we'll focus on the forces at work between the deck ledger and the band joist, and offer connection details that will safely carry the typical loads.

In addition to using the right fasteners in sufficient numbers, an important factor in designing ledger attachments is preventing moisture damage — rot — from weakening the ledger and band joist. Field observations of existing decks by Roger Robertson of the Chesterfield County, Va., Building Department revealed decay in untreated band joists...

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