In this Building Session, we dive into the topic of connecting deck guard posts to the framing of a deck. As you’ll learn in this presentation, there are many ways to do this (and ways not to do this) in order to conform with building code requirements to create a safe and durable deck.

The code requirements have gotten tougher, but they are very flexible. There is no one right way we have to do this, which is both a blessing and a curse. The blessing is that we aren't rigidly held to one method but have many options, using a wide range of fasteners. The curse is that there are so many methods that it might be confusing. But don't worry; we got you.

Leading off the discussion, Mike Guertin cuts through the confusion with a clear outline of the code requirements for guard post connections, starting with the all-important question for deck builders: If you are building your guardrail to code, how do you know?

From here, Mike boils down what turns out to be a rather brilliant prescription offered in the International Residential Code (IRC) that offers enormous flexibility in how guard posts can be connected to the frame (the trick being just that: "connected to the frame," which means they have to tie back to the joists and can't just be stitched to the rim joist). What code allows falls into two practical strategies, both of which rely on relatively new types of hardware: bolted metal connectors, or block-and-screw connections using different types of structural screws. Enormous support has come from the hardware manufacturers, whose technical documents define very specific, practical solutions (see "Essential Resources" at left). Altogether, we have a wide range of possible configurations to choose from, and what makes Mike's presentation especially powerful is the insight he provides to help builders understand the structural design problems the connections are solving.

After Mike’s presentation, we’re joined by Drew Lebo, a person who thrives on asking questions and finding solutions, which makes him an ideal leader of business development and product teams at Superior Plastic Products and Key-Link Fencing & Railing. Drew picks up where Mike leaves off to explain the way the code requirements are handled for posts supporting cable rail, and aluminum posts, in particular, in all their permutations - surface-mounted, fascia-mounted, and through-mounted posts.

Special thanks. The editors and producers of JLC's Building Sessions offer our thanks to Key-Link Fencing & Railing for making this presentation possible.