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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hello! I need to build a gate for the staircase on my back deck to keep my two toddlers from falling, but I've run into a couple issues. We didn't build the deck, and, the previous owners seem to have done a "less-than-perfect" job on it.

Here is a photo of the opening. It's a second floor deck, with the stairs going in a straight shot down to the lawn. (Don't mind the multi-colors; we're in the middle of staining it).


Link: http://imgur.com/mK7VAqj

My problem is that there are no support posts on which to mount the gate. The pieces you see are simply 2x2 spindles. Also, the handrails protrude into the opening and run flush with the interior surface of the deckrails. How can I safely mount a gate, and how heavy can I make it? How would you construct a basic safety gate?

Any advice would be appreciated!
 

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www.inspectorzo.com
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Hello! I need to build a gate for the staircase on my back deck to keep my two toddlers from falling, but I've run into a couple issues. We didn't build the deck, and, the previous owners seem to have done a "less-than-perfect" job on it.

Here is a photo of the opening. It's a second floor deck, with the stairs going in a straight shot down to the lawn. (Don't mind the multi-colors; we're in the middle of staining it).


Link: http://imgur.com/mK7VAqj

My problem is that there are no support posts on which to mount the gate. The pieces you see are simply 2x2 spindles. Also, the handrails protrude into the opening and run flush with the interior surface of the deckrails. How can I safely mount a gate, and how heavy can I make it? How would you construct a basic safety gate?

Any advice would be appreciated!
Hi DalaiMama,
The sides of the staircase have 2-2x2's on each side. screw/nail them together. Mount the new gate and supports to the inside (on the deck) of those 2x2's. Make the gate lower than the rail and cap so it fits clear of obstructions. Make the gate swing onto the deck and as a precautionary measure, I'd add a spring to ensure that gate always stays closed and latched.
Last, the gap between the existing rail is way big and your kiddies can easily slip between them. Code requires no 4" sphere object can pass through any opening in the rail. I would suggest some sort of a permanent mesh to prevent this from happening.
Good Luck! :thumbsup:
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Hi DalaiMama,
The sides of the staircase have 2-2x2's on each side. screw/nail them together. Mount the new gate and supports to the inside (on the deck) of those 2x2's. Make the gate lower than the rail and cap so it fits clear of obstructions. Make the gate swing onto the deck and as a precautionary measure, I'd add a spring to ensure that gate always stays closed and latched.
Last, the gap between the existing rail is way big and your kiddies can easily slip between them. Code requires no 4" sphere object can pass through any opening in the rail. I would suggest some sort of a permanent mesh to prevent this from happening.
Good Luck! :thumbsup:
Thanks for the help. I forgot to mention we're taking care of those gaps, too. Haven't decided yet between just doubling up the balusters, or adding lattice inside. Whoever made this deck definitely took some shortcuts...
 

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Unfortunately, that happens very often with pertinent structures. They are not given the same consideration as a dwelling. Nonetheless, you did and that is all that matters.
Good Luck! :thumbsup:
 

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From what I can see, this deck is extremely dangerous. You cannot use 2 x 2 ballusters to support a hand rail. Code dictates that the top rail has to be able to resist a 200 pound load anywhere along its length. It also dictates that there is to be no space larger than 4 inches so a toddler cannot get his/her head caught and basically strangle themselves. You need to do more than stain this deck IMHO. I am not trying to alarm you, just prevent a tragedy. People that do crap work like this is the reason you need a permit today to wipe your you know what. G Brackins has posted a prescriptive method for building decks. Look in his past posts, and download it or PM me and I will email it to you. Please. Considering how the person that built this did the ballusters, I would hate to see the support structure. You may want to post a bunch of pictures of the ledger, the joists, the girder, and the vertical supports so we can take a look. Read my signature and heed what it says.
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
From what I can see, this deck is extremely dangerous. You cannot use 2 x 2 ballusters to support a hand rail. Code dictates that the top rail has to be able to resist a 200 pound load anywhere along its length. It also dictates that there is to be no space larger than 4 inches so a toddler cannot get his/her head caught and basically strangle themselves. You need to do more than stain this deck IMHO. I am not trying to alarm you, just prevent a tragedy. People that do crap work like this is the reason you need a permit today to wipe your you know what. G Brackins has posted a prescriptive method for building decks. Look in his past posts, and download it or PM me and I will email it to you. Please. Considering how the person that built this did the ballusters, I would hate to see the support structure. You may want to post a bunch of pictures of the ledger, the joists, the girder, and the vertical supports so we can take a look. Read my signature and heed what it says.
I found his posts and downloaded the PDF you mentioned. Wow. I'm seeing a lot of issues with my deck now... It appears that the ledger, posts, and joists--the support structure--is actually okay, but there are (lots of) other minor issues I need to correct. I need to install 4x4 guard posts (there aren't any, only 2x2s!!), replace the handrails, and also correct the connection between the stairs and rim joist.

I'll take some pictures tomorrow during daylight, and post. Thank you!!

Looks like I have a much bigger project than a stain and a gate!! Thanks.
 

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Roofmaster
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I found his posts and downloaded the PDF you mentioned. Wow. I'm seeing a lot of issues with my deck now... It appears that the ledger, posts, and joists--the support structure--is actually okay, but there are (lots of) other minor issues I need to correct. I need to install 4x4 guard posts (there aren't any, only 2x2s!!), replace the handrails, and also correct the connection between the stairs and rim joist.

I'll take some pictures tomorrow during daylight, and post. Thank you!!

Looks like I have a much bigger project than a stain and a gate!! Thanks.
No, Thanks to Gary B, and thank you for listening to reason.
 

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What is holding the ledger board to the house? I do not see any 5/8 inch through bolts or large flat washers. Please dont tell me it is nailed to the T1-11
 

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Discussion Starter #11
What is holding the ledger board to the house? I do not see any 5/8 inch through bolts or large flat washers. Please dont tell me it is nailed to the T1-11
It looks like nails. Can't tell what size, but they're big. Two nails per joist, it looks like.
 

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Those are nails and it looks like nails are missing in the hanger too, not a good thing.

This deck is not safe.
 

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I found his posts and downloaded the PDF you mentioned. Wow. I'm seeing a lot of issues with my deck now... It appears that the ledger, posts, and joists--the support structure--is actually okay, but there are (lots of) other minor issues I need to correct. I need to install 4x4 guard posts (there aren't any, only 2x2s!!), replace the handrails, and also correct the connection between the stairs and rim joist.

I'll take some pictures tomorrow during daylight, and post. Thank you!!

Looks like I have a much bigger project than a stain and a gate!! Thanks.
Glad you have it all figured out. :wink:
 

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then ask for that specifically.

your attitude sucks.

Your deck is built very badly starting with undersized posts, bolts beam to the existing posts, the railings are not correct at all. You need bolts into the house ledger and this is just starters.

you want us to go on?
 

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Discussion Starter #17 (Edited)
then ask for that specifically.

your attitude sucks.

Your deck is built very badly starting with undersized posts, bolts beam to the existing posts, the railings are not correct at all. You need bolts into the house ledger and this is just starters.

you want us to go on?
I'm sorry to come across that way. Yeah, I guess you could say my attitude sucks. I bought a house with the deck already built. Finding out that it's pretty much a POS is bad enough, but it's even worse to listen to people point out the obvious (it's not safe) without any suggestion for how the NEW owner (ME) can fix it, if at all.

That said, do you have any advice for if/how it can be stabilized--bearing in mind that I'm not the moron who screwed it up?

It boils down to this: I'm going to install guardrail posts, replace balusters and handrails on the entire deck and stairs. But before I put the work in, I need to know if the ledger/foundation problems can be corrected or not. Is it possible to replace the 4x4s with 6x6's on an existing deck? Or, could additional 4x4s be added to compensate? Can the ledger be retrofitted with additional stability?

Or should I tear the whole thing down and build an entirely new deck?
 

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I think if you just go to the deck building recommendations in the pdf that Gary posted, and correct what is wrong you will be OK. Teco (Simpson) hangers need to have a HD Teco nail in every hole. You also have to use the correct hangers and bolts (ASTM A153) if your pressure treated wood is ACQ. It is extremely corrosive. I have seen common nails rust nearly through in as little as 8 months.

You have to use Hot dipped Bolts, not electroplated if you want them to hold up. Nails do not cut it to attach your ledger to your band beam, or your foundation. It has nothing to do with the shear strength of the nails, its about the bearing area within the wood and its ability to resist tear out and splitting.

Frankly, if I were you I would throw up a couple of jack studs under your ledger and refrain from using the deck till you get it properly secured to your house.

Through drill that ledger 16 inches on center one third from the bottom and bolt it with 5/8" Hot dip galvanized bolts. Flashing at the band beam must be correct.
 

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Hey, Guys! Some of you have been nice, but SOME.... Wow! Ease up. Think of this as your sister who got stuck, and help guide her into repairing this deck to be safe and usable. She wouldn't be here if she didn't already know she had a problem.
 
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Wow, sorry to be the bearer of bad news. It sucks when you think you only need to do one thing, and then you come to realize you have a whole big can of worms you've just opened.

First off, looking at the pictures, it's hard to say how salvageable the existing deck is. There are certainly things you can do without tearing it all down to improve things, but the thing is if things were done as poorly as they look to be done, it might be worth just tearing it down and redoing it all. I don't think you've gotten a thorough response simply because there are so many code violations. Some of the pictures it's hard to tell if something is missing or not. Things like where you live also determine how deep/large the main footers for the deck posts need to be. So where are you located (which is why ppl say to put your location in your profile)?

#1- Post footers. How deep are they. If they're not deep enough/not large enough not good. I'm no deck pro, but replacing the 4x4 posts w/ 6x6's would be incredibly difficult as a DIY job.
#2- The stair stringer looks alright (doesn't need to be redone), but it should have hangers and hardware where it attaches to the joist rather than just some nails. That can be remedied.
#3- Through bolts for the ledger board are a must or else the ledger can pull away from the house and your deck could collapse. That can be remedied.
#4- Redoing all the railings is doable as well. Easiest would be to just add a 2x4 horizontally across the bottom and 4x4 posts every X feet according to code. Again, fixable w/ the existing deck.
#5- Through bolts should be used for the beam to joist connection (can't tell in the picture). These can easily be added.

So ultimately, the two main posts are the only thing that can't be fixed easily w/o tearing down the deck. But, there are other questions like what type of fasteners/etc were used and other things which would make me seriously consider just tearing it down and redoing it. Your call obviously. Just read the deck code over and over and over and look at each part of your deck. Ultimately you'll be the one to determine whether your deck is salvageable or worth tearing down. The 4x4 posts are definitely undersized and would give me cause for some concern on a 2nd story deck.

Regarding your original post.. Building a deck gate is a piece of cake assuming you have the necessary structure around the deck. HD sells a "gate kit" I think for ~$20 that I purchased which has spring hinges and a latch. I used some leftover wood I had to create a gate. Blocking was added so it wouldn't hit the existing lights. The pictures are pretty self explanatory.
 

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