What deck-building terms should I know?

Learn deck-building lingo with this primer
Even if you're not building the deck yourself, you'll want to know the basics so the communication with your contractor will go smoothly.

Learn deck-building lingo with the primer below.

  • Balusters — The vertical boards that attach to the handrails. Sometimes called spindles.

  • Beams — The horizontal boards that are attached to the post to help carry the weight.

  • Box Sill — In a building frame it is composed of a plate resting on the basement wall and a joist or header at the outer edge of the plate, as well as a soleplate for the studs resting either directly on the joists or on the rough flooring.

  • Decking — The boards that span the area over the joists and form the deck floor.

  • Foundation — Either a concrete pad or post installed on footers.

  • Furring Boards — Long thin strips of wood used to make existing surfaces support the finished surface, in this case the deck.

  • Handrails — The horizontal boards that provide safety.

  • Joists — Typically 2 x 8 boards that are installed perpendicular and between beams to help distribute weight and hold up the decking boards. Joists are usually installed 16 or 24 inches apart.

  • Rise — Rise is the height of the step

  • Run — Run is the depth of the step

  • Staircase Landing — Usually part of the decking plan.

  • Stringers — The boards that support stairs.

  • Support Posts — 4 x 4 or 6 x 6 posts that are installed to support the weight of the deck.

  • Treads — The top boards on a stair.

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