Deck Building Ledger - The Secrets to Successful Deck Construction
by Arpad Nyikos
The Deck Building Ledger holds all the secrets to successful deck construction because it is the essential piece of wood that connects your deck to your home and from which all other measurements are taken.
Choose the piece of lumber for your ledger carefully, hold it up and look down the side of the wood to check for irregularities like warping and twisting.
Choosing your Lumber
The ideal deck building ledger should be free of ingrown knots and flaws, or at least only have very small knots.
The best flat board to pick out for the prestigious job of becoming a ledger is a vertical grain board - this is the wood which comes from the center of the tree and will show the center circles.
Boards with an arc grain, known as a flat grain board, are from the outer sides of the tree and are more prone to warping or cupping over time.
If you are building a top quality deck made out of only redwood or cedar then this doesn't apply to you, but otherwise, please make sure that you are only using pressure treated lumber.
Many people who opt for a more expensive option in lumber still use regular pressure treated wood for the deck building ledger and the joists because these are parts of the support of a deck that will NOT be visible.
If this is the case, do remember to use the Redwood or Cedar for the Outer Joists and End Beam, because although they form part of the under support frame they are visible when looking back at your deck from the garden.
Once you have selected and separated the best lumber you should have choice pieces for both your ledger and for your beams.
Positioning your Ledger
The first step in building a sucessful deck is finding the right height at which to secure your deck building ledger.
It is really important that you allow for a couple of inches step down onto your deck from your door, this is to help prevent rain water from running off the deck and into your home.
Remember also, in the final part of construction, your surface decking boards will be secured on top of the side surface of your ledger and joists, so:
Leave a 1" -- 2" drop from your door
Allow for the size of your decking boards - that will be another 2"
So, measure 3" -- 4" down from your indoor floor level
And mark the wall showing the highest point of the ledger
A spirit level and a pencil are your next best friends, you shouldn't try to place a deck building ledger without them.
Measure and mark along the wall, the full horizontal length of exactly where you are going to place your ledger.
Fitting your Deck Building Ledger
If your house is covered in siding you have to cut out the exact size of siding to insert the deck building ledger AND include enough at the sides to also insert the outer joists.
Flashing should be inserted up under the siding and onto the top of the ledger, the join should be closed with sealant.
If your home doesn't have siding you don't need to use flashing but you should still use sealant to close any gap between the ledger and the wall.
Galvanised four inch lag screws will secure your ledger into the wall and give you a level and firm foundation to build your deck design onto.
Admire Your Work
You can now stand back and admire the ledger attached to your house -- if attached at the right level and perfectly horizontal -- you have the beginnings of a great deck design for your home and it all starts with your deck building ledger.