Carriage Bolts And Deck Attachments

By
Home Inspector with Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC 3380-000723
http://activerain.com/droplet/4vkq

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.

 

Posted by

Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

Office (703) 330-6388   Cell (703) 585-7560

www.jaymarinspect.com


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Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Chris Smith 06/05/2011 03:58 AM
Topic:
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Virginia Prince William County Bristow
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Tags:
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Rainmaker
231,777
Reuben Saltzman
Structure Tech Home Inspections - Minneapolis, MN
Minneapolis Home Inspections

Jay - yes, I did notice that, but I don't think it would have had much of an effect on the test results.

Jun 05, 2011 08:08 AM #25
Rainmaker
1,742,832
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Why not?  If nailing joists to beams is enough, why mandate straps?  They, however, are the engineers!

Jun 05, 2011 08:54 AM #26
Rainmaker
477,703
Donald Hester
NCW Home Inspections, LLC - Wenatchee, WA
NCW Home Inspections, LLC

Jay,

The post that just keep on giving. We all see poorly designed guardrails and decks so this is great food for thought.

Jun 05, 2011 01:04 PM #27
Rainer
371,997
Tish Lloyd
BlueCoast Realty Corporation - Wilmington, NC
Broker - Wilmington NC and Surrounding Beaches

Fantastic information which impacts each of us -- lots of decks at the beach.  This will be quite interesting to follow.

Jun 05, 2011 01:45 PM #28
Rainmaker
1,742,832
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Don - I will post the Strong-tie answers when I get them.  You are right about the rails!

Tish - there sure are lots of decks there!  And off hotel balconies!  At my class they had lots of photos of hotel balconies that had failed!

Jun 05, 2011 10:32 PM #29
Rainmaker
2,034,831
Robert Bob Gilbert
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Anderson Properties - Katy, TX
Your Katy TX ( West of Houston) Real Estate Expert

I have seen this same issue several times in the last few years but did not know it could be a problem. Thanks for letting all of us know.. Write another blog when you have more data.. Thanks..

Jun 06, 2011 08:25 AM #30
Rainmaker
1,742,832
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

I intend to Robert, if/when they get back to me!  Thanks for stopping by!

Jun 06, 2011 08:34 AM #31
Rainer
426,012
Kimo Jarrett
WikiWiki Realty - Huntington Beach, CA
Pro Lifestyle Solutions

After 13 years, maybe it's time to renew and remodel and not even think about it?

Jun 06, 2011 08:39 AM #32
Rainer
79,386
Jeff Getman
Realty Executives of Ravalli County - Hamilton, MT
Realty Executives

Jay, I'm with you on this. It may be old school but someone is going to have to work very hard to convince me there is a better way to put together a deck and rail system. What are they recommending -- Super Glue??

Jun 06, 2011 08:39 AM #33
Rainmaker
1,742,832
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Kimo - maintained, a deck will last longer than that!  It gets a new coat of protectant every couple of years.

Jeff - they recommend through bolts with large washers.  I will wait for my answers!

Jun 06, 2011 10:31 AM #34
Rainer
53,523
Julie Babcock -Nook & Cranny Home Inspections
Nook & Cranny Home Inspections Tonawanda, NY - Tonawanda, NY

So Strongtie's problem with carriage bolts is the square part of the shank? Ok, I'll buy that if it's on sale. I'd have a hard time making a strong case for it being a huge defect, but I haven't been to their seminar.

Jun 06, 2011 02:08 PM #35
Rainmaker
1,742,832
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

I think it's that the bolt head is not as big as a through bolt with a washer and so it gets sucked into the wood over time Julie.  I'm still waiting for the answers to my questions!

Jun 06, 2011 10:26 PM #36
Rainer
262,368
Ed Aus, Jr
Taylor Properties - Westminster, MD

You've got me examining the construction of my deck this morning.

Jun 07, 2011 01:13 AM #37
Rainmaker
1,742,832
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Well, Ed, get to it!  I looked at mine when I came back from the seminar!  Just like you...

Jun 07, 2011 05:03 AM #38
Rainer
34,638
Kenneth Young
Uni International LLC - Virginia Beach, VA

Jay - 

I'll have to inspect my decks after this, but I always thought carriage bolts were the answer.  Looking forward to finding out the real deal on this subject.

Kenneth

Jun 08, 2011 12:39 PM #39
Rainmaker
1,742,832
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Still looking forward to an answer myself Kenneth!  We will see.

Jun 08, 2011 01:43 PM #40
Rainer
92,168
Ellen Wright Adams
Academy Mortgage.......We are a Equal Housing Lender - Eugene, OR
LoansByEllen- Licensed in Oregon

Jay:  I've seen this before....will be looking for your follow-up blog.

Jun 10, 2011 12:51 PM #41
Rainmaker
1,742,832
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

I am still waiting for them to get back to me Ellen!  It might be that I have to contact them again.

Jun 10, 2011 11:44 PM #42
Rainmaker
205,068
Liane Thomas -Top Listing Agent
BROKER Allison James Estates & Homes BRE 01885684 - Corona, CA
Bringing you Home!

Thanks for sharing this. I had no idea....

Jun 15, 2011 12:06 PM #43
Rainmaker
1,742,832
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Glad you found it Liane.  There was the final follow-up post today.

Jun 15, 2011 03:14 PM #44
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Rainmaker
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Jay Markanich

Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia
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