parts of a deck, Parts of a Deck: A Guide to Deck Terminology

Parts of a Deck: A Guide to Deck Terminology

When you’re looking to build your own deck, there’s a lot of jargon and terminology that you need to be familiar with. You should know the proper names for all the parts of a deck to be better equipped to get what you need and understand the construction process. 

To help you get acquainted with these terms, here’s a list of the 20 most important parts of a deck and their definitions.

Parts of a Deck

Flashing

Flashing is a sheet of material cut into strips and affixed over any cracks, joints, or exposed areas to prevent moisture from getting through. You may find flashing in materials such as vinyl, copper, or stainless steel. 

The IRC, the regulating body for residential properties, has certain requirements for flashing installation to ensure that it is up to code. Follow these guidelines to ensure you build a strong, secure structure.

Ledger

The ledger is the most important part of the frame of the deck. It supports other parts such as joists (see below) and makes up the outer perimeter of the whole structure. The ledger also attaches to the main house to keep the deck firmly in place.

Hardware

The hardware is all of the small pieces used to connect the various parts of a deck. It can include structural screws, lag screws, bolts, nuts, fasteners, steel connectors, and more. Without these vital pieces, the deck would not be able to hold together. At Decks & Docks, we carry all the hardware you need for your project. Just stop by your nearest location.

Joists

Joists are the main component of the actual structure of the deck. These pieces of lumber are supported by the ledger and the rim joists and lay parallel to each other, creating a sort of platform that the rest of the structure goes on top of.

Rim Joists

Rim joists form the outer edge of the main structure and support the joists. They work with the ledger to keep the whole structure attached to the main house and supported adequately. The rim joists must be properly affixed to maintain the deck’s integrity.

Bridging

The bridging is smaller pieces of wood that are used to bolster the strength of the framing. They are placed in between the joists and are intended to prevent them from twisting. They are crucial to providing a strong foundation for the deck.

Decking

The decking is the material used to make up the floor of the deck. It consists of lumber set to a required thickness and various pieces of hardware such as nails and screws. Composite, Capped Composite, PVC and HDPE  are other options when it comes to decking.  The AWC has very particular rules for decking construction, and these should be followed to the letter.

Railing

The railing is the vertically oriented structure on the deck’s perimeter that serves as a safety measure to prevent users from falling over the edge. It is made up of several components, including rails, railing posts, and balusters.

Railing Posts

The railing posts are an integral component of the railing apparatus. They are vertical pieces that keep the rail elevated and provide a frame for the balustrade, which keeps users from stepping over the edge. Railing posts are essential for proper deck safety.

Footings

The footings are an absolutely vital part of the overall deck structure. Consisting of solid concrete, these posts go under the deck to keep it securely elevated. They are also integral for proper weight distribution so that the deck can support the required load without collapsing.

Support Posts

The support posts are vertically oriented pieces of timber that are attached on top of the footings. They work to support and elevate the overall structure above. Particularly short decks may not require support posts, but you should check with the AWC guidelines before omitting them.

Post Anchors

The post anchors are the components that keep the posts attached to the footing. They are made of metal, and they keep the posts elevated slightly, which is essential to protect the wood from water damage.

Blocking

These additional support features consist of lumber and strategically sit between the joists, depending on their intended purpose. They are usually used to keep stair stringers or posts secure when fastened on top of the structure.

Beams

These horizontally oriented pieces of lumber are affixed on top of the posts and under the joists. Their purpose is to provide support to the joists, and by extension, the entire structure. They may also be referred to as “girders.”

Stairs

The stairs are one of the most important parts of a deck, as they are the thing that allows you to actually use it. This series of steps attaches securely to the entry point and allows users to ascend and descend the structure at will.

Fascia

In terms of deck architecture, the fascia is an aesthetic component, usually in the form of a band of wood, that serves to conceal the less appealing underlying structural aspects from view.

Balusters

Balusters are the individual components that make up the balustrade or the section of the railing, which forms a physical barrier. They are vertically oriented and integral as a safety precaution.

Balustrade

This is the section of the railing that holds the balusters. It goes in between the rails and railing posts and forms the railing’s physical barrier.

Stringer

The stringers are wooden components that offer support to the deck stairs. The stair treads attach themselves to the stringers to form a secure structure.

Piers

Piers are concrete structures that attach to footings to assist with weight distribution and structural support. In certain environments, they may affix into the ground instead of on footings.

Get in Touch With the Decks & Docks Team Today!

Now that you understand all the parts of a deck, it’s time to take the next step on your deck-building journey — gathering the materials you need. Luckily, Decks & Docks has you covered. Feel free to contact the team of dedicated experts at Decks & Docks for assistance with all of your deck and dock supply needs.