BALUSTER (PICKET, GUARD FILL-IN)
A baluster is a vertical componet in a guard and in a stair guard that fills in the space between the gaurd posts. Deck balusters are usually made from wood 2 x 2s. Other materials may be used to fill in spaces between guard posts such as metal, wires (cables), wood composite materials, plastic, and glass.
A beam is a horizontal structural member that carries a load imposed by other structural members, usually deck joists. Deck beams are usually made from two or more pieces of wood fastened together using nails or other fasteners.
A brace is a diagonal structural member installed between the corner posts and the beam in order to help keep the deck from moving (racking). Bracing is required if the deck post is more than two feet above the ground.
A cantilever is a horizontal extension of a structural component beyond its horizontal support. A cantilever component has no additional support. Deck floor joists may be cantilevered beyond a beam, and a beam may be cantilevered beyond a support post.
A connector is a manufactured component that connects two or more deck components to each other. Common connectors are post caps, base caps, and hurricane clips. Deck connectors should be at a minimum hot-dipped galvanized steel. Type 316 stainless steel is recommended near saltwater.
DECKING (FLOOR BOARDS)
Decking is the horizontal component upon which you walk. It is usually made from wood, such as 5/4 x 6 and 2 x 6. Decking may be made from wood, wood composite materials, plastic, and metal.
Dimension lumber is solid wood that is sawn to specific sizes such as 2 x 10. The actual (nominal) thickness of dimension lumber used for most deck components is 1 1/2 inches.
A fastener is a manufactured component that connects two or more structural members to each other. Common fasteners include nails, lag screws, and machine bolts. Carriage bolts are not approved fasteners for decks. Deck fasteners should be at a minimum hot-dipped galvanized steel. Type 316 stainless steel is recommended near saltwater.
Flashing is a thin, flexible piece of metal, plastic, flexible polymer fabric, or similar material that does not allow water to pass through it. Flashing should be placed between the deck and the house, and at the doors that open onto the deck when the deck is attached to the house. Properly installed flashing prevents water from damaging the wooed that supports the deck at the house. Sealants such as caulk are not flashing. Sealants are not a substitute for flashing.
JOISTS (FLOOR JOIST, DECK JOIST)
A joist is a horizontal structural member that supports the decking and provides the deck with some structural stability. Joists are usually connected to the ledger at the house and are usually connected to a beam.
KERF (SAW KERF)
A saw kerf is a slot in a piece of wood that occurs when the saw blade is driven past the intended endpoint of a notch in the wood. Saw kerfs occur when the wood is notched to create stair stringers or to notch deck joists when the joists are supported by a wood ledger. A saw kerf is a weak point in the wood.
LEDGER (DECK LEDGE)
(1) A ledger is a horizontal structural member (usually a 2 x 8 or 2 x 10) that is attached to the house; the deck joists are attached to the ledger. (2) A ledger is a horizontal structural member (usually a 2 x 2) that is attached to a deck ledger or a beam to provide support for joists. The use of a ledger to support joists is not approved in some jurisdictions and is not recommended.
RIM JOIST (RIM BOARD, BAND JOIST, BAND BOARD)
(1) A rim joist is a piece of wood around the perimeter of a deck; rim joists on the sides of the deck act as the first joists. (2) A rim joist is a piece of wood around the perimeter of the house to which the deck ledger is attached. A rim joist is usually dimension lumber (often a 2 x 10) in older houses; it may be engineered wood in newer houses.
FLIGHT OF STAIRS
A flight of stairs consists of risers and treads between two landings.
A footing is a structural component that transfers the deck loads from the deck post to the soil. A footing is made from concrete. Manufactured concrete blocks sold as deck footing are not acceptable footings. The bottom of the footing should be below the local frost depth.
GUARD (GUARDRAIL, STAIR GUARD)
A guard is a vertical component located around the deck perimeter to keep people from falling off of the deck. Guards are also required on the open sides of more stairs; these guards are sometimes called stair guards. Guards are usually made from wood, but other materials such as metal, wood composite materials, and plastic, may be used.
A guard post is the part of a guard that provides the primary resistance to loads that try to move the guard. A wood guard post should be at least a full-size 4 x 4 that is secured to the deck using a tension tie. Other materials, such as metal, may be used as guard posts.
A handrail is a graspable component that runs along a stairway to provide support for people using the stairway. There are rules about handrail size and shape and about their location along the stairway.
A landing is a solid surface located at the beginning and end of a flight of stairs.
A post is a vertical structural member that transfers the deck loads to a footing. A wood post should be a least a 4 x 4; a 6 x 6 is better. Steel posts may be used.
A post base is a manufactured component ( a connector) that secures the post to the footing so that the post does not move. A post base is the recommended method for securing the post to the footing. Other methods are allowed.
A post cap is a manufactured component ( a connector) that secures the deck to the post. A post cap is one method of securing the deck to the post. Other methods are allowed.
A riser is the vertical part of a stairway.
A stringer is a diagonal structural member that supports stair treads. Stairs must have at least two stingers. Most deck stairs have three horizontal.
TREAD (STEP, STAIR TREAD)
A tread is the horizontal part of a stairway on which you step.
FREESTANDING DECK (NONLEDGER DECK)
A freestanding deck is a deck that is supported only by posts and is not supported by the house. A freestanding deck is a good alternative when attaching the deck to the house is difficult or not possible, such as when ledger attachment through brick veneer is necessary to the house provide lateral load resistance.
LATERAL LOAD CONNECTOR (HOLD-DOWN TENSION DEVICE, TENSION TIE)
A lateral load connecter is a manufactured structural component that connects the deck to the house to resists forces that pull the deck away from the house. It is also used to secure a guard post to the deck. Examples include the Simpson Strong-Tie DTTI and DTT2.