Are 2 × 6 Strong Enough for Deck Joists? (Can You Use 2 × 6 for Deck Joists)

If you have considered adding a deck to your home, then you will know that there is a lot of work that goes into building one. The actual deck that you see in your garden is a very small amount of the structure, and it is far from the most important part.

In fact, the most important part of the deck is kept almost completely out of sight, and that is the joists that support it. 

When it comes to building a deck, planning is key. Whether you pay a professional or build your deck yourself, one of the most important things that you need to decide is what joists to use to build the frame.

One measurement that you might hear thrown about quite often is 2 × 6. So, are 2   to 6 planks strong enough to use as deck joists? In this guide, we’ll be answering this question. 

Check Local Building Codes

If you are considering adding a decking to your home, then the first thing that you need to do is check local building codes and regulations. It is all good and well to want to add a deck to your home, but there are a lot of steps that you will have to complete to make this dream a reality. Beginning with checking the local building codes. 

To do this, you will need to speak to your local building department. When you speak to them, they will give you all the information that you need to know about building decking in your area. This allows you to design a deck that fits all the necessary criteria for your area. This will include the standards for deck frames, allowing you to find out which joists you are allowed to use. 

If you are new to home improvements, then you might not have even known about the local building department, but they really are the holy grail if you don’t know where to begin. Of course, these codes can become a pain if they interfere with your plans, but they can be great if you need advice on where to start. 

Decking Requirements 

As we have just said, local building codes will greatly impact what joists are suitable for your deck. But, this isn’t the only thing that will influence this. The correct length of joist to use will also be impacted by lots of other things, these include the other materials that you are using, the required grade for lumbar and so on. 

When it comes to joists for decking, the most important thing to look for is strength. You might expect all species of wood to have the same level of strength, but this isn’t the case. Different species of wood are stronger than others, so depending on the type of wood that you are using, you might be able to use smaller joists. 

So, before you begin building your deck, you will need to think about things such as the size of the deck, and the type of wood that you are planning to use. Only once you have made these decisions will you be able to decide which size joists are best for the job. 

Understand the Deck Frame

Finally, before you can decide if 2 × 6 joists are suitable for your decking, you also need to get an understanding of the deck frame. There are two major components that make up the deck frame, they are the joists and the beams. The beams support the load, whereas the joists create the base to support the deck joists. To create this frame, there has to be proper spacing between beams and joists, otherwise it will not be able to support the decking on top of it. 

Even if you use the best joists for the job, if the frame is not built to be structurally sound, then the whole deck will sag and collapse. So, it is vitally important that you get things such as spacing and design perfect for your deck if you want it to be stable. 

The main reason that people choose to get their deck professionally built is because it takes all of these decisions off of your hands. If you get a builder in to do the job, they will be able to make all the necessary decisions for you, as well as ensuring that the deck that is built abides to local building codes. But, based on all the information that we have looked at, are 2 × 6 strong enough for deck joists?

Are 2 × 6 Suitable for Deck Joists? And Summary 

Yes, you can use 2 × 6 for deck joists. They are suitable for the job, but it is important to note that they are only suitable in certain situations. If you are looking to build a floating deck, then 2 × 6 will not be suitable, but if you are building a ground level deck, then they will usually be fine to use. 

The main thing that influences whether 2 × 6 will be suitable, or not, is whether the deck regards any guards. If your deck does require guards, then you will not be able to use 2 × 6 for it. But, if your deck does not require any guards, and is at ground level, then 2 × 6 will be able to do the job incredibly well. 

You might be puzzled as to why you can’t use 2 × 6 if your deck requires any guards or steps. The reason behind this is that 2 × 6 don’t have the size or the strength to be able to do the job. This is why they cannot be used if your deck is raised. But, if you are building a deck at ground level, 2 × 6 will be suitable for deck joists. This is assuming that it abides by the local building codes for your area.