Building Inside Joists

Continue constructing the frame of a freestanding deck with the inside joists.

Step 1

In this design, the inside joists are the same length as the outside joists. Gang-cut the inside joists using production methods: Set up a cutting platform so you can move boards on and off easily and work comfortably. Make sure the boards will be properly supported while you cut. Check the ends; if one is not square or has a split, cut off 1 or 2 inches. Use one joist as a pattern, attaching a temporary cleat to one end to keep it flush with the others. Measure and mark for the cut; draw an X to indicate which side of the line will be cut. Cut with a power miter saw or a circular saw.

Step 2

Install the joist hangers on the outside joists. Line up one side of the hanger on the vertical mark on the header so that the hanger overlaps the X. Fasten one side in place, then have a helper hold a scrap of joist so you can position and fasten the other side of the hanger.

Step 3

To attach the remaining joists, screw a temporary block to the top of the joist and use it to hang the end of the joist at the marks on the header. Slide a joist hanger tight to the bottom of the joist. Drive joist hanger nails or screws into each hole.

Step 4

Check that the outside joists are straight with a line strung as shown. Measure several points along the line to make sure that it is an equal distance from the end joists. Use a 3-4-5 triangle to confirm that the frame is square.

Step 5

Blocking keeps joists from warping and stiffens the framing. Snap a chalk line down the center of the joists. Measure the space between each joist as you go, and cut blocking from the same stock as the joists. Install them in a staggered pattern that allows you to face-nail each one.

What If... The deck wraps around a corner?

If a deck will turn a corner around a house, special framing is needed. The decking pattern determines the framing configuration. If the deck boards will meet in a butt joint (left), the framing is simple. If the decking will meet at a mitered corner (right), support the miter joint with two joists installed at a 45-degree angle; attach a 2x4 nailer to each side, for added nailing surface.

What If... Joist hangers aren't required?

Local codes may allow you to back-nail (or back-screw) instead of attaching with joist hangers. Have a helper hold the joist in position while you drive 16d galvanized nails or 3-inch deck screws through the header and into the joist.

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