Parts of a Deck: A Guide To Deck Terminology
Decks are a great addition to any home or business. If you’re thinking about
adding a deck to your property, it’s important to know what goes into the
construction of this type of project. You can install decks on houses, commercial
buildings, and boats too. They use wood, concrete, or composite plastic boards
that look like wood, except won’t rot or splinter as natural wood does over time.
When planning a deck, there are plenty of terms and acronyms to keep track of.
Here’s a guide to some of the most common words you’ll see when it comes to
• Post Anchors
• Railing Posts
• Rim Joists
• Support Posts
Parts of a Deck
Balusters are vertical posts spaced evenly along the decking and support the top
rail. These balusters create a physical barrier that keep both people and pets
from falling off decks and balconies. These are essential for safety reasons.
Make sure to check with local building codes before installing new balusters to
ensure that they meet height and/or spacing requirements.
Balustrades are comprised of assembled top rails, balusters or spindles and
often bottom rails, posts, post caps, and decorative finials. Balustrades can come
in many shapes and sizes; some are straight while others are curved; some have
decorative patterns; some have multiple levels; some even have multiple types of
railings in one! It all depends on how much money you want to spend on them
but don’t forget about functionality too, because safety is always the top priority.
Beams or girders are horizontal pieces of lumber that support your deck. They’re
usually made from pressure-treated lumber but can also come from other
Blocking supports joists and other components of a deck. They can be made
from either wood or steel. Blocking is usually installed either between joists or at
the ends of the joists, which prevent them from shuffling. If you’re building a deck
with more than one level, blocking is essential in supporting the beams that
connect each level.
Bridging is a structural piece that supports the decking and prevents twisting.
Bridging can also act as a load-bearing member, which means that it helps to
hold up the weight of everything that is placed on top of it. The smaller pieces of
wood that are used to bolster the strength of supporting joists are bridging.
Bridging’s purpose is to provide a strong foundation for your deck so that there
are no worries about construction integrity, only pure enjoyment!
Decking is what makes up the main surface of the deck. Decking can be made
from wood, composite, capped composite, HDPE, or PVC.
The composite decking will be the most visible part of your deck, so it’s important
to pick a material that you like that will withstand the elements. You may also
want to think about and decide whether you want your boards to be straight-cut
or tongue-and-groove style.
The latter can be the more expensive aspect and requires more maintenance,
however it also provides a stronger deck. The American Wood Council (AWC)
has very particular rules for decking construction, which you should follow to the
When is comes to decking, fascia is an essential part of architectural design.
Fascia is a horizontal board that covers up the exposed parts of the framework
and conceals the less appealing structural aspects from view.
Fascia boards are attached to the outside perimeter of your deck frame and
around any posts on your deck surface. Pressure-treated wood, cedar, and pine
make up these boards and serve as both aesthetic appeal and protection. This
protects against rot and other elements that can damage your new beautiful
Flashing is the metal that connects two different materials. Flashing can be used
to seal the joints where two pieces of wood meet and prevent water from entering
the deck. Flashing is common in vinyl, copper, or stainless-steel materials.
It is important to follow International Residential Code (IRC) guidelines when
installing flashing on your deck in order to ensure a sturdy structure that will
withstand all kinds of weather conditions.
The foundation of a deck is the footings. Footings are a vital part of the overall
deck design and structure. A foundation or footing made of concrete is where
you’ll find the posts that hold up your deck. These footings keep your deck stable
and sturdy. Without a proper foundation, this could compromise the entire
structure and fall apart.
Concrete footings are poured and finished before the framing is complete, which
allows them to support deck loads evenly to hold up for their intended uses.
The hardware is all the small pieces that are used to connect the various parts of
your deck. These pieces include but are not limited to structural screws, lag screws,
bolts, nuts, fasteners, and steel connectors. The hardware helps to connect your deck,
and using high-quality pieces for this is essential.
For example, if you’re using lag bolts or screws, make sure that they are
stainless steel, so that they don’t rust over time. Good quality hardware will make
all the difference, and it is promised that your deck will stay together without fail.
Joists are the main components of the actual structure of your deck. They are
horizontal beams that support your decking and are made from treated lumber.
Ledger boards, rim joists, and other pieces hold the joints in place, and make up
the frame for your deck. When installing the joists, install them You should install
at regular gaps, and this should be strong enough to support the decking
The size of your joists will be directly proportional to the weight they can support.
If you are not sure what size you need, always feel free to ask us! We are always
here to help you figure out how many pounds your deck will be able to hold so
that you know the best kind of lumber to be using.
The ledger is a horizontal plank on the outer perimeter of a deck, which connects
the posts to the house and supporting joists (or beams) that support subflooring.
The most prevalent type of ledger uses pressure-treated wood, which resists
moisture better than untreated lumber does. They are often installed outside of
posts rather than inside them because of this.
Piers are the vertical columns that support a deck. They are usually made of
concrete, but they can also be made of wood or steel. Piers attach to the footings
in order to assist with weight distribution and structural support. In certain
environments, they may affix to the ground instead of on footings.
Space these piers evenly throughout your deck and check your local building
code to see how far apart they need to be.
Post anchors are sometimes used to secure the posts to the footings. They help
to prevent water damage, by being elevated. There are options of either metal or
plastic, based off your preference.
Don’t hesitate to reach out to a professional contractor if you are worried about
making a mistake with building a deck. This professional will create an attractive
and functional addition that you will love!
The railing is the safety barrier that prevents people from falling off your deck.
This is a horizontal structure on all sides of your deck and is comprised of several
components, including rails, railing posts, balusters, and spindles.
These railings connect using metal brackets called tension devices (which come
in many shapes and sizes). There is a predrilled hole in every component which
secures the connection. Some decks have railings with wooden pickets between
each post, while others use metal pipes as posts for their railings.
These posts can have flat or rounded bottoms, which help to not interfere with
anyone that sits on them.
Depending on what style you are going for, there are different materials such as
wood, aluminum, composite, and stainless steel. There are plenty of ways to
check that they are durable enough, and to make sure that they won’t warp over
time. Even when they face exposure to weather conditions such as rain or
snowfall, they will be protected.
Railing posts are the vertical posts that support the deck railing. These posts
must be sturdy and tall enough to keep users from stepping over the edge of the
Railing posts are typically attached to the deck with lag screws (or other
fasteners). They do not support the deck’s sub-structure, but they do support the
Rebar is a steel bar used to reinforce concrete. It is usually made of high strength
steel but can also be made from aluminum and other metals. It has many
different purposes, including reinforcing the deck, footings, and piers. Rebar
provides strength and rigidity to concrete, making it an incredible choice for
supporting a deck. The posts and beams of your deck will not bend or sag over
time, as they are being reinforced.
The rebar is placed inside the formwork for the concrete, which forms an
interlocking pattern in the concrete itself. This helps to prevent cracks from
forming in your deck over time, meaning it will stay strong for years to come.
Rim joists are the outermost boards on a deck that run parallel to its edges and
support the deck joists. They help to support the weight of your deck and provide
strength and rigidity to the overall structure. Pressure-treated wood and
The rim joist attaches to a wall or post using an approved fastener. This stops
structural damage from happening. It is likely that if your deck is attached to a
house, you’ll have a rim joist. However, if it’s attached to a free-standing post, the
rim joist may be absent or incomplete.
Stairways are yet another component of a deck that can use various materials.
The popular option is wood for constructing deck stairs, but there are other
available options, it all comes down to preference. You can also build stairs from
stone, metal, and concrete. The material you use depends on the overall design
of your deck and what you want to get out of it.
Your stairway must be secure and sturdy enough to support the weight of anyone
who may use it. This means that you should always have at least one handrail on
both sides of the stairs whenever possible so that users can hold on while going
up or down them. This is for safety purposes. If you do not have enough room for
two handrails, choose a design where one side has railings while the other does
A stringer is a horizontal member that connects the posts and supports the
decking. A stringer can be made of wood, plastic, or metal, depending on
whether you want a natural look or an easier-to-maintain surface.
Support posts are vertical timbers usually made from pressure-treated lumber.
They’re attached to your footings, supporting and elevating the overall deck
structure. Support posts help to strengthen your deck floor by stabilizing it
against movement that weather conditions or shifting soil cause.
It can be hard to know where to start when building your DIY deck, and we get
that. We hope this guide has given you a good overview of the various parts of a
deck system and provided you with helpful information. If you have any
questions, we’re here to help you. Feel free to contact our team of dedicated
experts at The Deck Store for assistance with all of your deck and dock supply
needs. At The Deck Store, we carry everything you need for your deck project.
Feel free to stop by any one of our locations today!