This project covers how to install the joists for a two-level deluxe deck.
The joist installation method shown on these pages -- attaching all the joists to the ledger and cutting them to length later -- works when the ledger is not straight.
Before attaching a joist to the ledger, check that the end is square and that there are no splits or cracks. If you find a flaw, cut off about an inch or turn the board around and install the other end (if it is square and unflawed) onto the ledger. Make sure each joist is installed with its crown facing up.
If the ledger is straight, install the rim joists and header first and check them for square. Cut all the inside joists to the same length and install them with joist hangers.
Check with your local building department to see whether codes require hanger nails or screws.
With a helper, about 4 to 5 hours to install 20 joists and a header
Tape measure, hammer, drill, circular saw, chalk line, layout square
Measuring and cutting boards, driving screws or nails, and attaching joist hangers
Install the ledger and the beam, check the ledger for straightness, and draw layout lines on the ledger
Joists, joist hangers, screws or nails
When the joists are installed and evenly spaced, measure out from the house and mark the top of both rim joists for cutting. Remember that the header thickness will add 1-1/2 inches to the length of the framing, and that the decking will overhang the framing by another 1-1/2 inches. Snap a chalk line between the marks. Check that there is a clear line on top of every joist.
Use a layout square to mark a cut line on the side of every joist. Each cut line must meet the chalk line precisely.
Cut each joist with a circular saw. Vertical cutting is a bit tricky, so practice on scrap pieces first. You may cut freehand or with a layout square or scrap of 1x clamped on as a guide. Cutting down lets the weight of the saw do the work; cut upward if it seems more comfortable.
Cut the header to length -- usually 3 inches longer than the ledger. With a helper, hold it up against the joists and drive 3-inch screws or 16d galvanized nails to attach it to an end joist. Attach to the other joists in the same way. Make sure the top of the header is flush with the top of the joists.
At each chalk line, draw a square line down both sides of the joist. Cut blocking pieces 1-1/2 inches shorter than the joist spacing to fit between the joists. For instance, if joists are 16 inches on center, cut 14-1/2-inch-long pieces. For 12-inch centers use 10-1/2-inch blocking pieces.