Posted by: Scott McCullough | August 12, 2014

Deck Framing

Jess and I had always talked about building our deck with the image of a steel pedestrian bridge in mind.  We liked the idea that the structure doubles as a guardrail. A great example is the one in Bristol, NH that we’ve driven by a few times.


The industrial look worked well with our house, but we never really figured out how to fabricate it on a low budget.  But some things just seem to work out.  At a family gathering last summer, Jess’s uncle had a stack of 4’x16′ steel trusses sitting on a trailer in the driveway.  He had acquired them from a nearby big box store whose logo has a bright orange background.  As with most family transactions, we worked out a lopsided deal that he couldn’t refuse and we hauled them over to our house.

The deck shape didn’t have to change much to accommodate the trusses, we just had to adjust some of the concrete pier locations and figure out how to get it all connected together.

First step was to weld small steel angle onto the trusses that would support the 2×10 ledger boards.


Orange wasn’t quite right for us, so we got a coat of black spray paint onto everything.


The metal prep work was happening when we weren’t getting the rest of the deck ready.  We had an excavator come over for a weekend to get all the piers dug out and placed.  We poured  seven 10″ sono tubes where needed and also used two precast piers we had made from the house foundation work three years ago.

Photo Jun 21, 4 58 04 PM

Photo Jun 21, 1 58 06 PM


The concrete mixer made filling the tubes pretty easy, it took about 1/2 day.  After the piers were done we laid down a layer of filter fabric and crushed stone to help prevent any plant growth.


It took some time for us to figure out how to get things lined up and square.  The deck is a rectangle, but it’s at about a 7 degree angle to the house.  We used a string line on the long end as a reference line and measured off of that.


We installed two pressure treated beams holding up the short side of the deck, the steel trusses would go on the long side.


Two people could carry a truss around, but three or four were needed to get each one up off the ground and onto the 6×6 posts.



Photo Aug 09, 10 55 57 AM

Although I welded the small tabs onto the trusses, I wasn’t about to trust my welds for the more important structural connections.  We hired a professional.



Photo Aug 09, 10 38 00 AM

In order to avoid a post in front of the basement door or window we held the 3×5 steel post back by the retaining wall and cantilevered the truss about 8′.



Those stairs are temporary at best.  The permanent stairs will be on the right and land on the large stone that we had placed next to the house.  The area off to the left will have the grade a bit higher for a seating area and fire pit.  That work will likely happen around Labor Day.

Jess’s uncle brought an extra piece of steel to cap off the end of one of the trusses as we may need that for a future railing attachment.  The obvious thing that we will be getting soon is something to prevent falling through the truss and down to the ground below.  It will likely be a steel mesh similar to a fencing or lathe, we’re doing some research for that.



The angled joists shown above tie back into the house, the one here in the foreground is held with a Simpson DTT2 lateral load connection.  The one further back runs along the gable end of the house and is bolted in.


We will be starting to install the deck boards this week.  The outside face of the pressure treated lumber will be painted or stained to match with the black truss.  And we’re going to enclose the open end by the door that you see above.





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