Retrofit Improvements: Bracing & Attachment of Deck, Porch, Balcony & Stairs

Balconies are platforms enclosed by a wall or railing that project from the wall of a home. Decks, porches, stairway landings, and steps are also included in this category. Some balconies are cantilevered whereas others are attached to the rim joists or wall studs. Correct anchorage at the house wall is the first point for balcony inspection and repair. This is because during storms these projections create a “sail” to catch the full force of wind uplift.

The balcony creates greater loads on the wall, and therefore requires load path restraint of the deck. The American Wood Council’s Deck Construction Guide (see Resources) gives guidance on ledger board connection details. IBHS’ Fortified Engineering Guide (see Resources) covers wind uplift and seismic tie downs.

Providing a separate vertical support of the deck alongside the exterior house wall is the safest retrofit. This means installing posts and beams parallel and close to the exterior wall of the house so that the deck is self-supporting. Otherwise, check ledger attachment to ensure that it complies with current codes and verify or install flashing at ledger and tie down hardware as accessible. Similarly, inspect ledger at stair stringer.
Inspect all beam-to-post and joist-to-beam connections and repair as required. Replace rusted fasteners and add additional fasteners to comply with new construction details. Remember to inspect these connections at porch roofs, as well.

The cost of this retrofit will vary with size and age of balcony, deck, or stairway. Seasoned “Do-It-Yourselfers” can tackle this maintenance effort. Otherwise, consult a licensed contractor about this and other safety retrofits that are practical for your home. 

Retrofit - Bracing and Attachment of Deck-Porch-Balcony-Stairs
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