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Deck Glossary: A Homeowner's Guide to Deck Lingo

Decks are more than just wooden platforms attached to your house; they're extensions of your living space. If you're looking to build a deck, renovate an existing one, or simply want to understand more about this valuable addition to your home, it's crucial to grasp the terminology associated with decks. From materials to construction techniques, knowing the language can help you communicate effectively with contractors, designers, and suppliers. This comprehensive deck glossary will walk you through the essential terms every homeowner should know.

Deck Diagram
Deck Diagram

Aluminum Decking: Most aluminum decking is a lightweight and durable alternative to traditional wood and composite materials. It's made from extruded aluminum planks.

Anchor Post: A post secured to the ground or structure to provide stability and support for the deck.

Awning: A roof-like covering often made of fabric or metal that provides shade and protection from the elements.

deck railing
Trex Baluster

Baluster: Vertical supports, often made of wood, metal, or composite materials, placed between the top and bottom rails of a railing system.

Beam: A horizontal support structure that carries the weight of the deck joists and decking material.

Blocking: Short sections of wood placed between joists or beams to provide additional support and prevent deck components from twisting or shifting.

Bridging: Diagonal braces between joists to provide additional structural support and prevent lateral movement or sway.

Cap Rail: Serves both functional and aesthetic purposes, providing a finished edge to the railing and offering a surface for resting arms or drinks. Cap rails are typically installed atop the vertical balusters or posts, spanning the entire railing length.

Cedar Decking: Cedar is naturally resistant to rot, decay, and insect infestations due to their natural oils and tannins.

Composite Decking by Fiberon

Composite Decking: Composite decking is a material made from a combination of wood fibers and plastic. It offers durability, low maintenance, and resistance to rot and insects.

Cantilever: A structural overhang where one end of a beam or joist extends beyond its support.

Cupping: The warping of deck boards characterized by edges curving upward, often caused by moisture imbalance or improper installation.

Decking: The surface of the deck, typically made of wood, composite, or PVC materials, where people walk and gather.

Drip Edge: A metal or plastic strip installed along the edges of the deck to direct water away from the structure and prevent moisture damage.

Fascia: Trim boards installed vertically along the perimeter of the deck to conceal the structural elements and create a finished appearance.

Footings for Decks

Footings: Concrete supports installed below ground level to bear the weight of the deck's posts and prevent settling or shifting. There are several types of deck footings including:

  • Buried Post & Footing

  • Tube Pier

  • Bell Pier

  • Pier & Footing

Grain: The pattern and texture of wood fibers visible on the surface of decking boards.

Joist: Horizontal structural elements that support the decking material and transfer the load to the beams or ledger board.

Joist Hanger: A metal bracket or device used to support and attach joists to other structural elements, such as beams, ledger boards, or headers, in deck construction. It provides a strong and secure connection, ensuring that the joists remain in place and properly support the decking material.

Ledger Board: A horizontal framing member supports one side of the deck by attaching it to the exterior wall of the house.

Landing: A flat area at the top or bottom of stairs or at the entrance to the deck, providing space for transition and movement.

Perimeter: The outer edge or boundary of the deck.

Pressure-treated Deck: This lumber is the most widely used decking material. It's made from Southern Yellow Pine and treated with chemical preservatives to resist rot, decay, and insect damage.

Post: A vertical structural support element that provides stability and bears the weight of the deck's framework, railing, and other features. Posts are typically installed at regular intervals along the perimeter of the deck and may also be used to support beams, joists, and staircases.

Post Anchor: A hardware component used to secure a vertical post to the underlying structure, such as a concrete footing or deck frame. It provides stability and prevents the post from shifting or leaning over time.

Post Cap: A decorative or protective cover placed on top of deck posts to enhance aesthetics and prevent moisture intrusion.

PVC Decking: Made from 100% synthetic materials, PVC decking offers exceptional durability and resistance to moisture, mold, and mildew. It is more expensive than wood and composite options.

Railings: Vertical or horizontal barriers installed along the edge of the deck for safety and support.

Rim Joist: A horizontal board that runs around the perimeter of the deck, attaching to the ends of the joists. It serves as a crucial structural element, providing lateral support to the joists and helping to secure the decking material in place.

Riser: Vertical boards that enclose the open space beneath stairs, providing safety and a finished appearance.

Screw Jack: A mechanical device used to adjust the height of deck posts and level the deck surface.

Stair Stringer: The structural support for stairs consists of angled boards that support the stair treads and risers.

Substructure: The framework of beams, joists, and support posts that form the deck's structural foundation.

Tread: The horizontal surface of a stair step that provides a foothold for walking.

Ventilation: The process of allowing air to flow freely beneath the deck to prevent moisture buildup and rot.

Wood Decking: Decking material made from natural wood, such as cedar, redwood, or pressure-treated lumber, is prized for its aesthetic appeal and versatility.

Planning Your Deck

When choosing the right deck material for your project, consider factors such as budget, maintenance requirements, durability, appearance, and environmental impact. By selecting the material that best fits your needs and preferences, you can create a beautiful and functional outdoor space that you'll enjoy for years to come. Whether you dream of summer barbecues or quiet evenings under the stars, a well-designed and well-maintained deck can enhance your home and enrich your lifestyle.

At Refined Home Services, we want to empower homeowners to make informed decisions about their decks, whether they're embarking on a new construction project or maintaining an existing structure. By speaking the language of decks, you'll be better equipped to communicate with professionals, troubleshoot issues, and ensure that your outdoor space remains safe, functional, and beautiful for years to come.


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