When a deck collapses, it's often because the ledger wasn't properly installed. Whether a collapse is the result of foolish work practices (say only nail-gunning a ledger to a band joist) or simply outdated technique (no flashing between the siding and the ledger — which is how we learned to do it years ago), or even a deck put to uses for which it wasn't designed, i.e., hot tubs, the thought of a deck coming down is terrifying.
And yet, there has been scant agreement until recently about best practices. But there's more at work here than just sticking on a board that stays. The ledger board is the control-point for layout, and where it's hung on the building affects the experience of using the deck. “It's not a lot of the deck,” says Dennis Schaeffer, owner of Creative Wood Products, a deck company in Fenton, Mich., “but it's the most important part of the deck.” Here's a quick guide to getting it right.
Speaking of which, the Guide specifies ½ -by-6-inch lags. Although those work great — and are code in many parts of the country — the newer, faster-to-install screws such as those from Olympic Manufacturing Group (LedgerLok) or Simpson Strong-Tie are my preferred solution. Schaeffer advises drilling all the way through the brick into the open cavity space and attaching bolt to bolt. His view? That will soon be code.
As for flashing, I like P&G Solutions' DuraFlash. It's pre-bent and is easy to work with. Flashing above the ledger prevents moisture from corroding bolts or traveling along the bolt into the house, causing leakage.