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Deck Jargon: A Glossary of Deck-Related Terms Used for Installation

Aug 7, 2016 11:15:00 AM / by FLHomeSupply


If you’re considering doing a DIY deck installation, there’s more to the job than just the physical labor of it. You also need to have a thorough understanding of the terminology and lingo used in the process. Not only will familiarizing yourself with these terms make installation easier, but it will make it much faster and more efficient.

Here are a few of the most important decking terms to know before beginning your installation:

  • Baluster – (also called spindles) vertical supports that are installed between railing posts
  • Bridging – blocking used between joists that helps keep them from shifting and twisting
  • Building codes – specific regulations on building materials and methods that vary based on your location; many city, county and state building departments require that you meet these codes and obtain a permit before installing; codes may relate to the deck size, railing and stair construction, lumber materials, setback distances, etc.
  • Composite decking – boards used for decking that are made up of plastic and wood fiber; in general, this type of decking requires less maintenance than natural wood
  • Fascia – also known as the “skirt”, the fascia is the section of boards that’s used to cover rim joists and end joists
  • Fasteners – a general term to describe anything that fastens deck boards together, such as nails, screws and bolts
  • Footing – concrete columns below grade that support the posts and deck
  • Grade – an amount given to lumber to indicate the number of flaws found in the wood (examples: Deck Heart, Deck Common, Merchantable Heart, Merchantable, Construction Common, Construction Heart, etc.)
  • Joists – boards (generally 2” x 8”) that are installed perpendicularly between beams to help support the weight of the decking material above; they are typically installed 16–24 inches apart
  • Joist hangers – metal fasteners that let you fasten joists to a ledger or rim joist without affecting the ends of the board
  • Ledger – a board that’s used to support one side of the deck, fastened on one end to the side of the house
  • Live load – the term used to describe the amount of weight a deck is supposed to hold; many deck designs require live loads of 60 lbs. per square foot
  • Oversite – the area located under the deck; this area needs to be cleared for draining purposes
  • Posts – the vertical structures that support the beam and rest on the footinge
  • Post anchors – pieces of metal that are attached to or located within the footings that attach posts to the footings and keep posts from exposure to moisture
  • Rails – horizontal pieces of the railings that offer a safety barrier and place to hold on to while walking up or down the stairs
  • Rise – the height of a step
  • Riser – the vertical piece located between two stair steps
  • Skirt – the pieces that cover up the underneath opening of a deck
  • Stringers – long wooden boards (usually 2” x 12”) that support stair treads; usually installed diagonally (see an example here)
  • Structural integrity – the uncompromised ability of a structure to safely resist required loads
  • Treads – the horizontal surfaces of a stairway in which people step on
  • Trellis – a wooden structure that’s constructed overhead to shade sun and provide a decorative element to a deck 

Getting Started Checklist: Home Roof Installation

Topics: DIY home building, DIY deck installation, decking lumber

Written by FLHomeSupply