Chris' Corner: Building a Deck? Use the proper Bolts!

Building a Deck? Use the proper Bolts!


Are you planning on building or repairing your deck soon, this is a follow up to the previous post I re-blogged by Jay Markanich, a home inspector from Bristow Virginia, "Building a Deck? or repairing wobbly railings", and discusses the use of carriage bolts in building a deck.



My recent blog about deck post attachment, Don't Trim Those Toe Nails, has created a firestorm of interest from people nationwide.  Responses from ActiveRain, here and off line, as well as home inspectors from other message boards, have indicated quite the interest!  Basically the questions regard the use of carriage bolts in deck construction.

I attended a Simpson Strong-Tie seminar a couple of weeks ago.  They manufacture attachments, sleeves, anchors, connector plates, hangers, well, you name it, for various engineering applications.  You have all seen their products at one time or another.  During the seminar they made it quite evident that they do NOT recommend the use of carriage bolts for deck guardrail post and beam attachments, etc.  That was news to me.

Reuben Salzman in MN attended the same (excellent) seminar, understanding the same thing.  Since then he mentions the carriage bolt facts to his clients.  I had an inspection the other day with Lenn Harley.  The deck on that house, about 12 years old, had carriage bolts and we talked about it. 

The problem I am having is this:

1.  I don't know what the severity of the problem is.  I don't know what to say!
2.  When does it become a problem?
3.  What to do about it.
4.  Is this something that needs to be reflected in the codes?

These are photos of the carriage bolts on my deck, which I designed and built 13 1/2 years ago. 

They are in fact getting sucked into the wood.  I do tighten them every couple of years.  But they are not loose.  The sealer is a bit bedraggled, but there is very little corrosion.  Nothing moves, nothing wobbles, the deck feels strong and safe.

And it looks strong and safe!

I have yet to get around to my sealing this year, but so far so good.

So, I am doing what I always do.  I want to learn, and teach!

My questions are valid and good for all to have answered.

I have contacted Simpson with my questions.  And I will find out what they say!

So let's all learn.

From experience I know that information regarding carriage bolts will be totally ignored by "old school" deck builders!  That is how I handled it on the deck I did the other day with Lenn's client - I called it an "old school deck."

Until codes are changed, if in fact they need to be, most deck guys will not!

So let's see what we see.  I will report back.


Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia

Chris Smith CSSBB
          Sales Representative

Interested in Buying or Selling Real Estate?

  ph: 1.866.936.3500

Chay Realty Inc.,

Comment balloon 0 commentsChris Smith • June 05 2011 10:58AM