quality is what separates me from other deck builders. after building decks for over 20 years I’ve made a lot of changes to my design.

I have replaced so many old decks that i get to see the flaws and where the weakness in the design is.

Take handrails for example. over the years I’ve discovered some simple design tweaks that make them stronger and last much longer.

this is my current design and the design i recommend.

the reasoning behind this is the pickets. the pickets were installed from the inside. less sun hits the pickets now. the top of the pickets are protected from rain. the gap at the bottom of the picket keeps water from wicking up and causing the bottom to rot.

I also pre drill the decking and the pickets. this is something that adds a lot of labor. and most deck builders do not do this. i have seen decking boards crack from one screw to the next. and there is always cracking around the screw heads if you do not pre drill. cracks cause the decking boards to rot sooner.

another thing is getting the screws flush. some people seem to think it’s ok to sink the screw down into the board. this causes rot. it gives water another way in.

another little trick I’ve learned is to use a router on any cuts. here is a picture showing how much better it looks.

a handrail should always have two 2×4’s at the top and bottom so that they don’t warp.

avoid tripple beams. no beams should be over double if it can be helped. when you place 3 or more boards together they rot really fast. the board in the middle stays wet and the beam rots from the inside out.

do not run the post from the ground all the way up through deck deck and handrail. they warp up really bad. and it’s impossible to build to code that way. it would require notching to much out of the post. both members of the outside band have to sit on a post to pass code.

joist hangers versus ledger boards. people seem to prefer the joist hanger. it just looks so heavy duty. i prefer a ledger board. joist hangers have a shorter life than the wood. the chemicals in treated lumber corrode the hanger.

I’ve had someone tell me that hangers are better nowadays. regardless i avoid hangers unless the customer insist.

this is a ledger strip. and when installed up to code is very strong tried and true.

avoid trying to bolta handrail post onto the outer band. it may be strong enough to pass code but it will feel weak. you will be able to wiggle it. handrail post should be installed inside the deck and blocking installed around it.

here is the screen system i prefer to use. it is made by screen tight and it’s called mini track. it is installed from the inside.

here are the handrail brackets i use now

more to come….