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Tuesday, November 2, 2021

How to Frame a Deck with Steel: Your Top Questions Answered

Fall may be in full swing, but there’s never been a better time to build the sprawling backyard deck of your dreams – complete with today’s most sought-after outdoor features, including pergolas, swimming pools and outdoor kitchens.

Before your larger-than-life project gets underway, it’s important to first consider the type of framing material that can support today’s ever-expanding deck functions and enormous loads. While traditional lumber may be the first material that comes to mind, it’s no longer the only option available in the market. Steel deck framing, used in countries around the world, is now available in North America and causing many to look beyond wood. An ideal framing material for supersized deck projects, it delivers strength, durability and longevity—premium performance capabilities that lumber simply can’t match.

Given the buzz around this wood-alternative solution, we’re answering some of the most commonly asked questions about framing a deck with steel.

Q: How do you frame a deck with steel?

A: Armed with a ready-to-assemble steel framing system like Evolution, framing a deck is a relatively straightforward process. A comprehensive solution, Evolution includes an intuitive ledger and convenient joist lengths for an install process similar to lumber. If you have framed a deck with wood or framed a wall with steel studs and track, you will feel at home constructing a steel frame deck – even on curves.

To learn how to frame a deck (and yes, even deck stairs!) with steel, watch our installation video tutorial or follow these step-by-step instructions .

Q: Is steel stronger than wood?

A: Yes. All muscle and brawn, steel’s ultimate yield strength measures approximately 10 times greater than wood. With this inherent power, steel profiles can handle significantly greater loads than lumber. To put strength of steel in perspective, Fortress Evolution 2x6 joist will span 16’ where it takes a dimensional 2x10 or 2x12 lumber (depending on species of wood) to span 16’ and steel joists will allow for greater joist span past the beam in addition to design flexibility.

Q: How do you attach a deck?

A: During the deck building process, you will attach the deck to your house with a S-Ledger (which is included in the standard Evolution system). To maximize efficiencies, Evolution’s S-Ledger employs an engineered interlocking design and pre-punched slots options that virtually eliminate the need for measuring joist spacing or excessive fasteners. This speeds installation while also reducing mistakes made by measuring.

Q: How far can a 2x6 joist span without support?

A: To determine how far a 2x6 joist can span without support while ensuring a structurally sound system, we recommend reviewing Interteck’s CCRR-0313 for span charts.

Q: How far apart do joists need to be on a deck?  

A: While joists are typically installed 12-inches on-center (OC) or 16-inches OC, this is entirely dependent on the live load for the structure and the type of decking material used. However, with Evolution, installation is made simple with standard 12” OC and 16” spacing. 

Q: How many footers do I need for a 12x12 deck?

A: Typically, you’ll need four footers to construct a 12x12 deck if it’s freestanding. However, if the deck is attached to the house and you’re using steel beams, only two footers are normally required. That said, post installation requirements, including the size and depth of your footings, will vary by climate and soil conditions. Because of such factors, it’s important to consult your local building code officials prior to the deck building process.   

Q: Can steel framing be used when angles and curves are involved?

A: Yes. Our Evolution steel deck framing system includes a 45-degree bracket option and a curved rim joist to effortlessly accommodate angles and curves.

Have more questions about framing your dream deck with steel? We’ve got your back. Our Resources/Support tab offers installation guides and step-by-step tutorials to get your project started on the right foot.

To learn more about this wood-alternative framing solution, tune in to The Ultimate Deck Podcast’s latest episode, “The Clear Advantage of Steel Deck Framing.”

Deck being built with steel deck framingGround level deck being built with steel deck framing


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