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.

Deck Safety

Simpson Strong-Tie has produced a number of guides for the construction and upkeep of a code-compliant deck. Our most recent addition is a video featuring “6 Warning Signs of an Unsafe Deck.”

The free Deck Connection and Fastening Guide provides instructions on how to recognize defects and deficiencies in existing decks, and guidance for building strong, safe, long-lasting deck structures. Additionally, it goes detail by detail (ledger connection, joist-to-beam connection, beam-to-post connection, etc.) through a typical deck and identifies the relevant building-code requirements (2012 and 2015 IRC/IBC) and connection options. Our deck-code guide can be a helpful reference to an engineer who is just getting acquainted with decks and can also bring you up to speed on revisions to the IRC that may call for engineering changes to even a relatively simple residential deck. You can download the guide from our website or receive it by traditional mail service.

Do you know how to identify an unsafe deck? The blog article linked above will walk you through the annual steps you should take to identify whether you need important structural deck repairs.

One of the biggest risks for outdoor structure safety is corrosion. The blog post linked above will help you understand how to evaluate exposure levels in your environment and how to select corrosion-resistant products to use for extending the life of your deck.

Simpson Strong-Tie developed this handy infographic to help contractors and homeowners determine whether they have a deck that meets common building code requirements. The graphic shows how the Simpson Strong-Tie® complete connector system helps build safer, code-compliant decks.

Simpson Strong-Tie is committed to providing training and educational opportunities for our customers. Our regional training centers offer workshops and classes about proper specification, product installation and inspection of connectors and structural systems. Training is available for engineers, architects, dealers, contractors and inspectors. Participants can earn professional development hours (PDH) and continuing education credits (CEU) through our registration with the CSI, BIA, ACIA, AIBD, AIA and IACET.

Simpson Strong-Tie Deck Products and Decking Materials 

Simpson Strong-Tie has an extensive line of products ideal for building a new wood deck or reinforcing an existing deck. We’ve highlighted some of our favorite products below, but a complete list can be found in our deck center.

Simpson Strong-Tie Deck Planner Software

As the leader in structural wood connectors, Simpson Strong-Tie is the perfect partner to help you create a strong, beautiful deck that will last for decades. Our free Deck Planner Software enables you to design a deck in just a few minutes. With this web-based software, you don’t have to worry about complicated downloads or managing licenses. Just design your deck, print out your permit submittal pages and materials lists, and go.

Simpson Strong-Tie Deck Planner Software is provided at no cost, without obligation.

Deck–Drive™ Premium Fasteners

Deck-Drive screws are designed with the most demanding deck builders in mind. Whether the project calls for conventional wood decking, premium composites or exotic hardwoods, you can trust Deck-Drive screws to provide you easy driving, superior holding strength, resistance to the elements, and a smooth, clean finish to blend in with your decking materials.

Deck-Drive™ DCU Screw Plug Solution

Fastening deck boards and trim can sometimes leave visible screws that can detract from the beauty of your outdoor project. The Deck-Drive™ DCU screw plug solution is a complete Hidden Deck-Fastening System designed for use with our premium DCU Composite screws and consists of DCU Composite screws, DCU screw plugs and the Auto-Set Driver™ bit (each sold separately). The DCU screw plugs are made from major composite and PVC board manufacturers’ materials to match your deck and trim boards. With no more visible screw heads, you get a clean, professional finish.

EB-TY® Premium Hidden Deck-Fastening System™

The EB-TY Premium Hidden Deck-Fastening System is the ideal solution for blending holding strength and ease of installation without detracting from the deck’s finished appearance. Simpson Strong-Tie has redesigned the award-winning EB-TY Hidden Deck-Fastening System® by integrating a Type 300 Series stainless-steel reinforcing plate that adds stiffness to hold boards in place securely, yet maintains flexibility when seasonal contraction and expansion occur. Combine this innovative new design with our EB-GUIDE predrilling tool, and you have a system that not only provides hidden strength but is also easy to install.

DTT1Z Deck Tension Tie

Deck Guide: DTT1Z

The DTT1Z deck tension tie from Simpson Strong-Tie is an easy, cost-effective solution for attaching a deck to a home and reinforcing resistance to lateral movement. This deck tie has been specifically designed to comply with the 2015 IRC provision for lateral load connections to a supporting structure and allows for deck joist connections to be made to top plates, studs or headers on a home’s structural framing. This means that the DTT1Z can be installed from the exterior, eliminating the need to go through finished interiors to access the floor joists.

BVLZ brick veneer ledger connector

BVLZ brick veneer ledger connector kit
Installation Photo

The BVLZ brick veneer ledger connector provides a new code-compliant, tested solution for safely adding a deck to an existing house with brick veneer exterior. It attaches a wood ledger to the framing through the veneer. This patent-pending connector kit provides a viable alternative to building a free-standing deck, and it installs without having to remove or replace large sections of brick veneer.

The BVLZ brick veneer ledger connector kit includes a steel ledger plate, a compression strut, installation guide, two 14″ Strong-Drive® SDWH Timber-Hex HDG tension screws and six Strong-Drive SD Connector shear screws. It’s designed so the two tension screws pass through the mortar into the structural framing, and the compression strut transfers compression forces from the ledger plate to the rim joist. The system enables the ledger to hang freely without bearing on the brick veneer.

All Decked Out: How to Attach a Deck to a House Through Brick Veneer Siding

You can read more about BVLZ applications on our blog.