Good carpenters find creative solutions to old problems. H&H’s Jay McKnight and Mike Evans recently built a deck with terraced wraparound steps for a Portland client. Joining the outside corners of the stairs is always a challenge with this deck type. Sometimes carpenters will build a corner stringer, put the risers on and block between, but this doesn’t give the corner a lot of strength. Others will use two stringers, which is a better method, but the deck boards that meet at the corner will each be attached to their own stringer. The problem with this is that the two stringers will have different radial and tangential shrinkage, which can result in the joining deck boards moving in different directions causing extra gapping or a slipping hazard.
For this deck project, Jay applied the concept of hip roof framing (see an example of this here) to the deck corner framing. On a roof one hip rafter is used on the corner with multiple jack rafters connecting to it.
Example of hip roof framing from our Yamhill Vineyard project.
“When Jay first brought it up it seemed like it was going to be a lot of extra work for not a whole lot of gain,” said Mike. “But it ended up being a big time saver and upped the framing strength of the deck.”
By using a 4 x 12 to build the corner stringer the deck has full support and the joining deck boards are attached to the same surface. It takes a little longer to cut but saves time when fastening and securing corner deck boards.
The pressure treated framing was then covered with IPE decking. For final finishes the decking is screwed and plugged and corners are biscuited to prevent cupping and twisting.
“Any time I run into this scenario again I’ll do the same thing,” said Mike. “It took a little bit more math at the beginning but it’s a simple idea that in the end was a big time saver and added longevity and strength to the deck as well.”
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