#27 Decks & Railings
The Basics: Terms, Types & Ideas, Designer Decks
Planning: Designing, Building Details, Plans
Components: Joists/Beams, Plank Decking, Railings
Materials: Treated Wood, Cedar, Composites & Other
Construction Details: Heated Space, Joists, Stucco
Care: Finishes, Cleaners & Restorers, Durability Study
Issues: Fire Performance, Moisture, Finding Products
Top Pick: If You Have Time To Surf Only One Site
1. The Basics: Terms,
Types & Ideas, Designer Decks
Deck Terms & Descriptions
To help you understand the different terms used in describing a deck and its parts, this Home Decks site has a labelled
drawing and a short explanation of each component.
Deck Types & Ideas
Looking for deck design ideas? Decks.com offers you easily searchable pictures, provided by deck builders, showing
different uses, styles, finishes, products, and components.
Mr. Deck explains how a designer deck breaks out of the “deck as a platform” concept and adds many architectural
elements to make it both functional and beautiful.
Designing, Building Details, Plans
Designing Your Deck
Decks.com lists each step in the design process and includes some tips and items to consider for creating a deck
that serves the owners needs.
Deck Building Details
If you are looking for detailed information on the entire deck building process this Best Deck Site has it. The
quality of information here just might be worth the $10 US access fee.
Need a full set of plans? Decks USA sells a variety of options for single level, multi-level, L-shaped, basic and pool,
as well as for screened porches and gazebos.
Joists/Beams, Plank Decking, Railings
Joist Spans & Beam Selection
The Canadian Wood Council offers tables for calculating spans for exterior deck joists. Also click on the ”Beams” link on
the left sidebar to find the tables for built-up beams.
Wood Plank Decking
For wood plank decking (tongue and groove), the Canadian Wood Council provides you with information on common
species, sizes, shapes, grades, ordering and installation.
Railing Types & Styles
To help you or your customers select railing types, this Decking Northwest site displays good photos of many different
styles, using various products and materials.
Treated Wood, Cedar, Composites & Other
Pressure Treated Wood
When choosing pressure treated wood, you or your customer may have questions or concerns. The Canadian Institute
of Treated Wood site likely has answers to all of them.
Cedar deck building information on the WRCLA site includes an overview of cedar products, grades, sizes & spans, deck
projects, fasteners, finishing and maintenance.
Composites & Other Materials
Various types of composite and other materials are appearing in the marketplace and the eBuild Web site covers many
of them in these articles on composite decking.
Details: Heated Space, Joists, Stucco
Deck Over Heated Space
CMHC provides these wall assembly details for a balcony or deck over a heated space, along with notes on materials and
design and a detailed drawing.
Laying Out & Installing Joists
This article, with pictures, from Fine Homebuilding explains how to lay out and install joists. It also includes information
on sizing and cantilevering, along with some pro tips.
Here is another construction detail, including drawing, from CMHC. This one shows you the wall assembly details for a
balcony or deck with stucco cladding.
6. Care: Finishes,
Cleaners & Restorers, Durability Study
Finishes For Wood Decks
Finishes to wood decks can minimize problems from cracking, raised grain and mildew growth, as this technical brief from
the Advanced Housing Research Center outlines.
Cleaners & Restorers
This Paint Dealers magazine article covers types of products for wood deck cleaning and restoring. It also gives you the
pros and cons of mechanical cleaning methods.
Which details, fasteners and finishes hold up the best on outdoor structures? Study results are presented in this Fine
Homebuilding article on the details for a lasting deck.
7. Issues: Fire
Performance, Moisture, Finding Products
If you are building in an urban-wildland interface you might get value from results of fire performance tests on 15
commercial deck materials, performed by the Forest Products Laboratory.
This section of the Porches Decks & Outbuildings book tells how many deck problems can be traced to moisture
content of wood both during construction and over its lifetime.
To find deck material manufacturers, tools, accessories, supplies, and more it may be worth checking out this resource
section of the Deck Industry Association Web site.
8. Ken’s Top
Pick: If You Only Have Time To Surf One Site
Best Deck Site
I never thought I would recommend a site that charges a fee. But for good quality, detailed information on deck design
and construction, the Best Deck Site is worth the $10 US charge.
For Today: On
Problems are not punishments -- they are invitations to a higher level of thinking.
- Alan Cohen