Deck Guide: How to Build Safe, Strong Decks

A little like Bugs Bunny’s, Simpson Strong-Tie’s favorite season is “deck season.”

This penchant makes sense, because for more than half a century Simpson Strong-Tie has been the leader in structural wood connectors. That history of fashioning solid connections makes us the perfect partner for homeowners and contractors who want to build safe, strong wood decks.

But did you know our deck solutions don’t end at connectors? Every year, our team of engineers innovates better ways not only to build new decks but to strengthen existing decks. Whether you’re a contractor seeking new ways to build faster and more safely or a DIYer embarking on a spring deck project, we’re likely to have the solution you’re seeking. Here’s our Ultimate Guide to Building a Safe, Strong Deck with Simpson Strong-Tie.
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Deck Safety: 5 Warning Signs of an Unsafe Deck

Just like your home, your deck can’t be expected to last or keep you safe unless it’s correctly built and maintained. Most experts agree that the average life expectancy of a wood deck is 10 to 15 years, and estimate that millions of decks in the US may be presently unsafe. The good news, however, is attention to deck safety can prevent most deck collapses.

If you’re building a deck or already have one, you should know how to evaluate its construction to make sure it’s structurally sound and safe. Using the proper structural connectors and fasteners (like nails and screws) as well as regular maintenance are the keys to a safe, strong deck. It’s a good idea to inspect your deck annually to make sure all your connections are strong.
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Chicken Coop Plans: How to Build a Modern Chicken Coop

This past spring, my wife, Jamie, decided to bring home six chickens. Then she pointed at me and said, “We’re going to need a chicken coop.” Well, six months later, the chickens were still sleeping in our old rabbit hutch at night and free-ranging around the yard during the day. One morning I went to let them out and saw all six of them tightly packed into a hutch designed for one rabbit, and I knew the time had come.

When I sat down to design these chicken coop plans, I knew that we wanted something awesome. We wanted to design a coop with clean, modern lines that had a simple yet great-looking exterior. This thing will be sitting in our yard all the time, so we knew just any old coop wouldn’t work. Jamie and I sat down to research chicken coop plans but nothing was exactly what we wanted. We didn’t want the standard look of boxes attached to boxes. We wanted everything housed in one single unit, under one roof.
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Keep Corrosion in Check

Just as knowing the load capacities of your metal hardware is crucial to the longevity and structural integrity of your building project, so is understanding the potential for corrosion. The likelihood of rust and rot increases when building outdoors in wet environments and other corrosive conditions. Having a solid awareness of the corrosive threats posed by the environment and your building materials will help you to choose the fasteners, connectors and anchors that will best mitigate corrosion risk and keep your project structurally sound for the long haul.

Start by evaluating the exposure levels in your environment. Is it an interior dry- or exterior wet-service job, for example? Generally, outdoor environments are more corrosive to steel because of the elevated moisture levels relative to interior spaces. Projects near the ocean or waterfront are at increased risk for corrosion due to airborne chlorides and salt splash prevalent in marine locales. Salt is also a danger if building materials will be exposed to de-icing salts.
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Prescriptions for a Perfect Pergola

Building a custom pergola, gazebo or patio cover is one of the best ways to enhance an outdoor living space. Beginning your project with a few simple construction tips in mind — and the right hardware on hand — can go a long way toward making your job easier, and to ultimately creating a pergola that’s both structurally sound and stylish. Here are five tips on how to build your perfect pergola or other backyard structure.
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Does Tension Keep Your Deck Up at Night?

Whether you’re building a brand new deck or retrofitting an existing one, concerns about the strength and safety of your deck can be a significant source of tension. Other than the quality of the wood itself, how the wood members of a deck are connected to each other and to the adjacent structure is the most important part of the deck. Connections that don’t meet code requirements or that have become loose, corroded or decayed over time, compromise a deck’s strength and safety.
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What Are the Components of a Strong Wooden Fence?

Spring is officially here, and that means a lot more outdoor living and entertaining. Is your outdoor space ready? While most homeowners focus on building a new deck or on deck maintenance, redoing your fence can also transform your space. Do you know what the crucial structural connections of a strong wooden fence? We will outline them here, along with a sneak peek at our newest fence bracket, the FBFZ, just in time for spring.

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A Deck Style for Every House

A deck is more than just a new outdoor space. When designing your next deck, consider a layout that works with the architectural style of your home. There is a deck style suited for every home – from a large mountain estate all the way down to a highly functional tiny house.

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