An Alternative to Floor Joist Hangers

The Deck Ledger Board and Floor Joists Must Be Properly Installed to Ensure a Strong and Weather tight Deck

By Mark J. Donovan

When building a deck, where the underside of the deck will be highly visible, it may be aesthetically more attractive to use a ledger strip verses joist hangers when installing the floor joists. For example, if the deck sits high off the ground, such as is the case when it resides over a walkout finished basement, a ledger strip will provide a cleaner look to the underside of the deck.

A ledger strip is simply a strip of lumber nailed along the bottom of the ledger board that attaches to the side of the house and to the deck front band/header. The ledger strip is typically about 1.5” to 2” in height and 1.5” in width.

The deck floor joists rest on the ledger strips and are attached by toe nailing the floor joists into the ledger board and front band/header. The result, a very structurally strong solution and a much cleaner look to the underside of the deck.

Learn more about deck ledger strips and the use of deck flashing here.

The ledger board itself plays a major role in the deck construction. It connects the home to the deck. Consequently it must be fastened solidly to the home. Typically the ledger board consists of a 2×8 or 2×10 pressure treated piece of lumber that is fastened to the house sheathing and through the front band/header. Lag bolts or carriage bolts should be used to attach the ledger board.

Also, the ledger board needs to be attached directly to the house sheathing and not the surface of the house siding. 

 Deck floor joists are resting on a deck ledger board.

Thus the house siding must be removed where the ledger board will attach. The house siding can then be reinstalled around the ledger board and deck area after the deck construction is complete.

Its also important to keep in mind that the area behind and around the ledger board must be weather tight. Thus use an ice and water shield on the house sheathing prior to attaching the ledger board. Also, make sure to use deck flashing that attaches to the house sheathing and goes over the top edge of the ledger board. Make sure when fastening the decking boards to not nail into the flashing resting on the ledger board, or else you’ll defeat the flashing’s purpose.

For help on building a deck, see’s Deck Installation Bid Sheet. The Deck Installation Bid Sheet will teach your how to hire the right deck contractor, and help to ensure that your deck project is completed on time and budget.

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