(1-1/2 + 1/2 + 1-1/2 = 3-1/2 inches), I use a 5/16-in. x 4-in. washer-head screw. From the coating to holding power, I haven’t found a fastener I like better than Spax Power Lags.
Also, with the ledger laid out ahead of time, I’m sure my fasten- er placement doesn’t interfere with hangers or joists.
FRAMING Screwing a 2x4 cleat to the bot- tom of the ledger is a time saver. A 2x6 is even better. I use the cleat for the framing to the guard posts. Band Joists. By running the cleat long, it supports the side
band joists while I set them roughly level (on whatever works safely) at the far end of the deck. On this deck, I used a telescoping Little Giant stepladder. The Left and Right bands are the only joists cut to finished length prior to installation. So, if the deck is 12-feet deep, cut the left and right band 142-1/2 inch- es (144 inches minus 1-1/2 for the front band).
Temporary Posts. Once leveled on temps, I square the bands to the ledger with a 3-4-5 triangle. Held fast with an angle brace, I’ve got a square frame with nary a string to trip over.
Tip: The star of the photo below is my Hyde “Use It Every Day” Painters multi-tool. Just get one. Here, among its 10-million uses, I’m shimming the band joist level. I always ride the bubble to the high side of the line. All the forces on the deck from here on out are downward, so if the grass com- presses or it rains a lot, I’ve got a little fudge for the band to settle level.
The temporary posts—2x6—are set 22-inches back from the end of the joist with #10 x 3-inch Spax HCRx coated screws. I also pre- set two screws on each end at the beam location. Beam. Most deck builders zing a 45 off each end of the beam. Meh. I cut a “wing” instead. At the end of the wing’s taper, I cut a flat spot 2 inches long and 6 inches down from the top. While I think it looks awesome- er, it serves a purpose. Before installing the double 2x10, I screw a block 6-1/2 inches down from the bottom of the joist on each temp post. This traps the beam while I install it. The payback: Instead of needing a helper to lift the beam—then annoy me for the rest of the day—I trap it in the blocks, lift it half an inch, and fas- ten with the screws pre-set in the temp above.
DIRT WORK More payback. Now, to mark the support posts, I plumb down from a known location in space instead of hoping my string layout worked. On a low deck, the beam is in the way. In that case, I run a string between the temp posts and plumb down. It’s also handy to have the deck frame wide open if you’re digging with a machine. Tip: I like to over-dig square-ish holes, at least 16 x 16-inches. I start with an edger—Pop-Up Tool Review: Fiskars All-Steel edger
Here, I’m installing the band joists. The pressure-treated Southern Pine I get is so straight I stopped “crowning” it years ago.