We have all heard of or experienced deck failure? It may not be the most common thing but it happens. Sometimes even when the whole deck collapse the posts are often still left standing. This is because many deck builders try to save costs by using improper fasteners to hold the beam to the posts, or the ledger board to the house. If they simply cut notches into the posts so that the beam is sitting on top of the post, then the post would be supporting the deck. However, if the beam is simply nailed on to the side of the posts. So instead of thousands of pounds being distributed over the weight on the posts, a handful of regular nails will be holding up thousands of pounds. It’s just a matter of time before it gives way.
If notching a post to have the beam sit directly on it isn’t possible, it’s okay to have the beam attached to the side of posts. However, this should only be done on decks that are very low to the ground and the beam should have a ply on either side of the posts with through-bolts to lock the whole thing together.
If the deck is attached to and supported by your house, if the piece of wood that is fastened (ledger board) is simply nailed in, then the same thing is very likely to happen. It’s crucial that you have proper fastening. Lag bolts, big heavy-duty steel screw-like fasteners, or carriage-bolts need to be used to fasten to the house structure.
The ledger board can peel right off the house if not fastened correctly. If you’re not using the proper bolts, you might as well use thumbtacks, because it will inevitably fail. All in all, deck failure isn’t very common. Most deck builders are wise enough to know how to apply proper structure but as a precaution make sure your deck builder knows about proper structure when deciding who to use to build your new deck.