Floating Ledger Boards Are Dangerous.
Many people don’t know this but ledger boards that are improperly installed are the No. 1 reason decks fail.
Have you ever seen a deck fall? It’s awful. Now, imagine being on one, enjoying company and then it falls with you on and your guests on it. That’s a terrifying thought, isn’t it?
If you look closely, you’ll see this white, faded, floating ledger board is improperly installed and that there are no lag-bolts holding it onto the surface of the wall. This is a major concern that is overlooked because a ledger board is what often supports the deck and the lag-bolts are what keep the board from separating away from the attached structure’s frame. Do you see any bolts?
No bolts? I don’t see any either so… how exactly will this support the load of a deck?
Answer: It won’t.
When the house was built, the floor joists were installed perpendicular from the windows and the ledger was secured with nails, instead of bolts. Oh, you could build a deck and be excited about it but it won’t last. Over time and the unavoidable pull of gravity, the deck will fall. This was why this deck was never built. It was important to notice the details that were missing: the lag-bolts that were supposed to be in place, securely holding the board up were nowhere to be found.
For Do-it-yourselfers, building a free-floating deck just above ground level is a project that can be tackled. However, tying a deck into the home’s framing is required when the finished deck is 1.5 feet (or over) above ground when finished is required for safety purposes. There will be less movement and greater stability as people walk on it. This deck was going to be 12 feet above ground level. This required major stability. There would be no taking chances with this deck. Personal safety is of the utmost importance when it comes to construction and durability therefore doing things right was the key. And we went back to the drawing board, all the way down to the bones of the house to make sure this deck would be safe.
Pandora’s Box was suddenly opened.
David and I found that the ledger board wasn’t a solid strand and three layers were nailed onto one another. There was no flashing installed – as I suspected – and to add insult to injury, there was no lintel holding up the brick which meant we needed a mason to deal with the brickwork.
The space between the two floors also had to be restructured and all damage repaired before continuing.
The entire project just doubled in workload and time, as well as increased in cost, something Mr. T did not want to hear but had to face.
There were things happening behind that ledger board and I knew I had opened a Pandora’s box ; I knew it would be a nightmare to go through it’s contents. However, I knew that with the help of our trusted crew and great engineering of the deck, we could close this box over time. If we looked at all of the details, the framing and met over what it would take to make this deck safe, we could close the lid and turn the nightmare we had been faced with into a dream for Mr. T. That’s what mattered. As I like to say in my office, “Safety first, then beauty.” Time to get to work!
How this all started:
Another project we are working on at the same time:
If you’re thinking of tackling a home improvement project, read this first: