Q: I need to replace a second-floor deck and would like to avoid opening the finished ceiling inside the house to install lateral-load anchors. In Jim Finlay’s article about lateral bracing (see “Lateral Bracing Alternatives,” Jan/Feb 2014), the author describes different methods for anchoring a deck to a foundation, but none of them are an option on a second-floor deck. Do you have any suggestions that would allow me to avoid installing threaded rod into the house on each end of the deck?
A: Jim Finlay, owner of Archadeck of Suburban Boston, in Burlington, Mass., responds: At a second floor you have no foundation, but you do have the house frame. Presuming the house is not balloon-framed, there will be a second-floor rim joist available; in fact, the existing deck’s ledger is probably attached to that rim joist. In this situation, we typically would install what in my article I call “house-frame brackets,” which are custom-fabricated 1/4-inch-thick by 3-inch-wide galvanized steel L-brackets with 9-inch-long legs (see photo, left). The brackets should be installed horizontally rather than vertically, using the same LedgerLok or lag screws used to fasten the deck ledger through the sheathing and into the rim joist.
Another way to enhance the lateral stability of a deck is by running the decking diagonally so that it crosses the joists at a 45° angle, and screwing the decking to the joists (grooved decking fastened with hidden clips does not provide as strong of an attachment). The many triangles you create with the ledger, joists, and deck boards will add tremendous rigidity to your deck, but always discuss whatever plan you choose with your building inspector, who may still require anchors.