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Old 11-18-2011, 08:59 PM   #1
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Properly securing deck ledger


Yes, this is *another* deck ledger question, but I searched and couldn't find any specific answers to this.

My deck is one step down from the first floor of my house. The house has a walk out basement, so the deck is about 8' high. I believe it's fairly common to have a step down like this. However, due to this step the deck ledger board is just below the rim joist in elevation.

The ledger board has very little securing it to the house right now. There are no lag screws or bolts, just some nails that are staggered in a way that leads me to believe many of them are hitting the hollow areas of the wall.

The deck has survived many a New England winter (although I don't know how old it is), but I think it's time to fix this. Can someone tell me the proper way to secure it?

The ledger board is 2x8. The top 2-3" overlaps the double top plate in the wall. For the lower 5-6", the only thing to secure it to are the wall studs. I'm concerned about using large lag screws (3/8" or 1/2") because they could weaken the wall (especially if they're off center or not driven straight). I've looked at LedgerLoks, but they are still pretty beefy (5/16 or 3/8?). I also saw a note in a technical bulletin that says "LedgerLok is not designed for attaching to open web floor trusses, stud walls or house overhangs (cantilevers)."

So what's the right way to address this?

Thanks,
Mark

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Old 11-18-2011, 09:29 PM   #2
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Properly securing deck ledger


In New York, when you're building a deck, if you attach it to the house in a "permanent" fashion, then you have to have it inspected because it is then considered part of your house. If you leave a gap, so that it is not secured to your walls, then it is a freestanding structure and is not subject to the same inspection rules. (At least that's how it was explained to me when I was putting the deck on my last house - and why it was completely free standing.)

If it has been fine un-attached to your home, and is structurally sound, you may not want to affix it to your house.

Just a thought.

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Old 11-18-2011, 09:33 PM   #3
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Properly securing deck ledger


ledger lock is correct about not attaching to open joist trusses, they aren't designed to be drilled into at all. same goes for 1 1/8 osb floor ribbon. most new homes we frame are custom homes that we do turnkey. we will omit the osb ribbon and switch to lvl for the floor ribbon so we can bolt the deck ledger to the house without any issues.

studs arent as bad nor top plates. ive done it this way with no issue. only having spikes trhough the ledger doenst offer nearly as much holding power as a lag bolt, some deck builders will actually use carriage bolts when they can gain access to the inside of the framiing so to put the nut and washer on the carriage bolt.. though i have never done it that way.. the carriage bolt will hold better in less beefy floor ribons as it relies on the washer and nut on the opposite side of the floor framing as opposed to the threads of a lag
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Old 11-18-2011, 11:53 PM   #4
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Properly securing deck ledger


Thanks for your replies.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mnp13 View Post
If it has been fine un-attached to your home, and is structurally sound, you may not want to affix it to your house.

Just a thought.
The deck is not a freestanding design, it relies on the house to support one side. It is attached, just not properly from what I understand. Whether or not it's structurally sound is another question. It's been standing all these years, but I feel like it's an accident waiting to happen. Certainly by current standards nailing the ledger to studs is not acceptable, but maybe that was standard practice at the time the deck was built?

Quote:
Originally Posted by woodworkbykirk
studs arent as bad nor top plates. ive done it this way with no issue. only having spikes trhough the ledger doenst offer nearly as much holding power as a lag bolt
So you would feel comfortable driving lags or LedgerLoks into the top plate and studs? The top plate I'm not too concerned about, but with the studs there seems to be so much potential for damage. Would it be sufficient to just drive a bunch of LedgerLoks into the top plate, leave the studs alone, and call it a day?
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Old 11-19-2011, 11:55 AM   #5
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Properly securing deck ledger


ive driven lag bolts into top plates, and studs. in one case it was a odd framed house, its all that could be done. on another it was a split entry house where the landing was balloon framed to the knee wall so i had to anchor to the studs. the inspector approved it

if you just anchor to the top plate your only anchoring along the top of hte ledger which can increase the chances of the ledger splitting... i always stagger my ledger bolts up and down so to reduce this and keep the ledger lying flat to the exterior wall
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Old 11-19-2011, 04:42 PM   #6
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Properly securing deck ledger


cumak, I think that woodyworkbykirk is on target. Attach the ledge the best you can. Fastenmaster, Ledgerlok, may say don't install into studs and I typically follow manufacturer's specs to the "T" but I always like to fasten the ledger near the top and near the bottom. I think that if you used a ledgerlok dead center of the stud you would be fine. The alternative is to install a girder within two feet of the house. This will involve crawling under there and digging out for a pier and installing the posts and girder. I urge you to perform some effective remediation, I have been on several deck collapse investigations and they all involved an inadequate connection of the ledger board to the house. You might want to try contacting Fastenmaster and see if they have a sales rep in the area that you can speak with to confirm the use of ledgerlok to stud. I have always found manufacturer's reps very responsive and willing to help find a solution. Good Luck.
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Old 11-20-2011, 11:04 AM   #7
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Properly securing deck ledger


camuk are you sure about this statement refering to stud walls?
"LedgerLok is not designed for attaching to open web floor trusses, stud walls or house overhangs (cantilevers)."

I attached my ledger in California(LA county, earthquake country) to the second story wall studs. This was after I contacted Ledger Loc and asked for supporting documentation to prove to the city these would be better than 1/2 lags. The city engineer passed them with flying colors.

I did break about a 2" wide opening in my stucco where my ledger board was going to be mounted, this allowed me to draw a level line for the center of each stud. Also I installed a bolt on the top and bottom of the ledger at each stud, a little overkill but I was only building one patio.

Hope this helps.
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Old 11-20-2011, 01:32 PM   #8
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Properly securing deck ledger


i havent worked with ledger lock but have seen them in hd. memory serves correct its basically the same theory as a lag bolt ony its self tapping correct?
the lumber yard i buy through doesnt sell them so we dont buy them
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Old 11-20-2011, 10:49 PM   #9
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Properly securing deck ledger


Quote:
Originally Posted by NASCAR9
camuk are you sure about this statement refering to stud walls?
"LedgerLok is not designed for attaching to open web floor trusses, stud walls or house overhangs (cantilevers)."
That statement came from this technical bulletin on FastenMaster's web site. It's at the end, in the "General Fastening Guidelines" section.

However, based on your comments and the other replies, it sounds like it's fairly common to use these (or lags) to attach to studs. I'm still a bit concerned about hitting some studs off-center and splitting them, but if I drill some 1/16" test hole just below the ledger and search for the edges of the studs, then I should be able to find the centers pretty accurately. I think I'll also predrill to make sure the screws go in straight, even though they are self taping.

Quote:
Originally Posted by woodworkbykirk
i havent worked with ledger lock but have seen them in hd. memory serves correct its basically the same theory as a lag bolt ony its self tapping correct?
Yes, and they also have a smaller diameter than lag screws for the same strength. For example, they claim better shear strength than a 1/2" lag screw, and the LedgerLok diameter is only about 3/8" (or maybe 5/16", they don't specify so I'm eyeballing it).

Quote:
Originally Posted by TheCamper
You might want to try contacting Fastenmaster and see if they have a sales rep in the area that you can speak with to confirm the use of ledgerlok to stud. I have always found manufacturer's reps very responsive and willing to help find a solution.
Thanks for the advice. I think I'll do that before I attempt this. If I learn anything interesting I'll post it here.

Thanks for your help everyone.
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Old 11-22-2011, 10:05 PM   #10
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Properly securing deck ledger


I spoke to an engineer at FastenMaster, and I wanted to post what I learned in case anyone comes across this thread in the future. He was very helpful (even after I told him I was a homeowner ), and I recommend calling if you have questions about their products.

"Officially" they don't support using LedgerLoks in studs, but it can be done if done cautiously. He said you *must* predrill (ideally 7/32"), and be very careful about finding the center of the stud. Ideally you should inspect the stud for any splitting after it's installed. If that's not possible, he recommended driving the screw by hand so you can feel for any sudden changes in resistance that might indicate splitting.

He also gave me some expected disclaimers about making sure the fastener spacing is adequate for the load, and making sure the stud wall can support the load. However, in my particular case since the deck has been standing all these years and I just want to strengthen the ledger attachment, he said this wasn't as much of a concern as it would be for new construction.

One other interesting thing I learned is that even though my deck has a joist span of 10', the sides coming out from the ledger have additional posts at 5'. I hadn't really considered these, but he told me that those posts were probably what allowed the deck to remain standing with the ledger secured only by nails. They take a lot of the load away from the ledger.

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