Imagine you put weeks of work into building a deck and now it's time to enjoy it. You step on your deck and you just find out it is swaying to the left and right as you walk on it. It creates an unstable surface which is not just unpleasant to be on but also a great tripping hazard as it can mess up your balance and you could fall.
Bracing a deck is extremely important to maintain the integrity of the structure and to ensure your outdoor space is safe for you, your family, and your guests.
In order to brace your deck properly, there are just a few things that you need to keep in mind, you wouldn't need a lot of materials and the process is actually fairly simple:
Identify where you will be positioning the braces and measure the distance
Cut the braces on a 30-45 degree angle
Attach the braces using structural screws
This article will go fairly in-depth about the entire process of installing diagonal braces, as they are the most common and generally the easiest to install. However, there will also be discussions on different bracing methods based on height or even for what kind of deck you might have.
Read more: How to Build a Ground Level Deck
Are Deck Braces Necessary?
You might be thinking that if a deck might be wavering then it's not that big of a deal, as long as its footings remain solid and the deck boards are properly laid then what could the issue be? There is as a matter of fact a very big issue as choosing not to brace your deck can have very serious consequences.
A deck without braces can be a very unstable structure that can very easily collapse if some weight is put on it. Imagine that, one of your guests walks out on the deck and the structure starts swaying left and right, this movement would loosen the joints and the connection and would cause the deck to collapse.
It might even be required by your local building code to brace a deck properly from swaying. It is always recommended to fasten the deck to your house unless it is situated in a place where that cannot be done.
Deck Bracing Techniques
As we have mentioned, diagonal bracing is usually the way that people go when they have to brace their decks. This involves fastening a 4x4 piece of wood to a 6x6 Column, as well as the underside of the deck's beam.
When you're done, you will have a V shape on either side of the column. Diagonal bracing is generally much more suitable for all standard-size decks.
Another bracing method is cross bracing. This form of bracing, on the other hand, is normally reserved for decks that are not attached to a structure. It entails connecting a 24 or 26-inch piece of wood on either side of the 6-6 column to form an "X" configuration.
Cross bracing is typically exclusively used on freestanding decks because it provides one of the most effective forms of anti-sway lateral support, which a freestanding deck requires more than a secured deck.
Installing a continuous footing and wall for decks 6' to 8' or taller is often the most structurally sound choice. This approach entails creating a continuous concrete footing and then constructing a wall between the footing and main beams (made up of pressure-treated studs and pressure-treated plywood or skirting material).
A wall provides lateral support in each direction, ensuring that the deck is stable and sway-free. This may take longer, but it will provide a significant structural benefit to a larger deck.
How to Brace a Deck from Swaying
Materials you will need:
Before you are starting with your project here's a list of tools and materials that you will require:
4 x 4 posts
12” Miter saw or hand saw
Step 1: Measure the distance between your deck column and beam using a 30-45 degree angle as your guide. Using this 30-45 degree angle gives you the highest amount of structural strength, so it's really important to make sure you stay within this limit.
Step 2: Cut the 4x4 posts that will act as your braces with a 12" miter saw or hand saw once you've calculated the distance and determined the angle you'll be cutting on. Before beginning any cutting, always put on safety eyewear.
Step 3: With the braces measured properly and cut, it's time to fasten them. If you are using structural screws that are 5/16 thick x 6” long, you will need two screws per brace side. Using either an impact driver or drill, fasten your screws into the post and through the column which is perpendicular to the brace. You are done fastening the post to the column, repeat these steps and screw the post to the deck's beam.
Step 4: Make sure that you are fastening the posts diagonally on each side of the column around the perimeter of your deck. This form of structural support holds the deck properly together, preventing any sway from making your deck collapse.