There are several kinds of decks and probably the worst kind is how the ledger is attached to the house. There are may different way to attach a deck to house or building but let’s go over what exactly a ledger is in order to clarify thing better.
There are many different ways to attach a deck to a house or building. Many use what is called a ‘ledger’. A ledger is simply the piece of wood that connects to the house itself, not all decks have a ledger; for instance a floating deck might not have a ledger; hence the name float.
I was just told a horrific story of a deck collapse which had a pool on top of the deck as well. The lag screws holding the deck together were only 4, and they were not properly attached to the ledger, basically they hit air. Traditionally lag bolts, screws, whatever you may call them are the most well known way of attaching a deck to a building or house. When the deck was taken apart they saw that they were improperly set and not enough was used. Thank goodness no one was hurt.
To properly attach a deck ledger using 1/2″ lag screws, 5/16″ holes need to be pre-drilled through the ledger and rim joist. After that, a 1/2″ hole should be drilled through the ledger only.
Absolutely at no time should you nail the ledger!
In order to keep deck safety on your mind well into the summer head over to watch the Check Your Deck® Video from NADRA; the North American Deck and Railing Association.