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Know Your Deck Terminology

Before getting started on a deck project, get familiar with the terminology.

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  • 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.