How to build a deck to code in Kentucky

How to build a deck to code in Kentucky

In order to build a code compliant deck and ensure its structural safety, an essential set of key connections have to be implemented in order to maintain a continuous load path. When these key connections are made properly, loads are transferred throughout the deck’s frame and into the ground and/or the adjacent structure to which the deck is connected. The 7 connections listed below ensure against uplift and lateral displacement and are in accordance to the requirements established by the Kentucky Residential Building Code.

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Correct ledger attachment is critical when a deck is attached to another structure. One of the most common causes for deck failures are ledgers that are not properly secured and pull away from the primary structure, resulting in collapse. The two most common ways to correctly attach the ledger to a structure are lag screws or machine-bolts through the ledger and into the rim joist of the supporting structure.


When deck joists terminate into a beam or ledger, a connection is required to provide bearing. For that you’d want to use joist hangers. In cantilever applications, the connection also must resist uplift. Ledger boards may not be installed over siding or stucco. It must be fastened directly to the rim joist or sheathing.


At the point where a beam meets a post, it must be properly connected to the post in order to receive concentrated loads, lateral and uplift loads. This pertains to solid sawn beams or those comprised of multiple members, whether they rest on top or are fastened to the side of the post.


At the point where the joist bears on top of a beam, there must be a connection to resist lateral and uplift forces. Blocking or framing also is required to prevent overturning of the joists.


The railing connection is another important connection pertaining to safety that is often overlooked. In order to provide the required load resistance at the hand rail, the post not only must be fastened to the rim joist, but also tied back into the joist framing. Post anchoring is essential. Machine bolts through the post and rim joist alone do not typically meet the performance requirements of the code. Instead, a mechanical connector installed into the joist with bolts through the post is needed.

How to build a deck to code in Kentucky


Stair stringers must be properly connected to the deck, and treads properly connected to the stringers, in order to resist loads. In addition, code requirements regarding openings between stair treads and stair railing must also be met.


In order for posts to properly resist various types of loads, they must rest on and be anchored to concrete footings. Patios and pre-cast concrete piers do not qualify as proper footings for deck construction.

Posts must be correctly attached to a concrete footing in order to resist lateral and uplift loads. Unless posts are naturally decay-resistant or made from preservative-treated wood, aka pressure treated, they must be elevated off the concrete by 1 inch to help prevent decay at the end of the post due to moisture. Make sure that the footings are below the frost line.

In addition to building permit requirements, residential decks for 1 & 2 family dwellings and townhouses in Kentucky are also subject to zoning requirements. They are required to meet the land use and setback requirements of the zoning code. Consult with the local building department on different zoning ordinances if you’re not sure about something.

If you need assistance with construction, permitting, or building a deck in Lexington, Kentucky, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Our team of experienced designers and builders will be delighted to assist you!

How to build a deck to code in Kentucky
How to build a deck to code in Kentucky


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