One method of connecting your floor joists to your bearers is to check them into the side of the bearer rather than sitting them on top of the bearer. This is commonly done to help reduce the depth of the sub-floor frame and it is especially effective in a couple of situations: when the deck is close to the ground; or when the deck is on the front of a house and you want the bearer to hide the ends of the floor joists.
However this method of checking the joists into the bearer has its own unique problem: over time the floor joists have the potential to work themselves out of the housing, due to the deterioration of the fixings holding them in. To overcome this problem it is recommended to use a metal bracket and screw it to the bearer and then to the joist or you can use what’s referred to as a joist hanger, which is when the joist itself is actually nailed to the bearer via a bracket that the joist sits in. Joist hangers are designed so that you don’t have to check your floor joists in the bearer and offer more stability than just checking a floor joist into a bearer.
In 2008 a deck in Brisbane collapsed killing one person and injuring plenty more. It was found in the coroner’s report that the cause of the deck collapse was because over a period of time the joists had worked their way out of the housing that they were checked into.
Keep in mind when planning your new deck or even renovating an old deck and space is limited, butting floor joists into the bearer is a good option just pay extra attention to how you are going to secure them in place.
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