Just A Handful Of Nails? On A Million Dollar House? Are You Kidding?


Just A Handful Of Nails?   On A Million Dollar House?

Yup! A handful of nail is the answer to “what’s holding the deck on?”

That’s pretty shocking on a building valued at a million plus. The nails are Ramset type, a heavy duty concrete nail that is shot into place with a 22 cartridge. They are thick and hardened to do this but they are not for permanent use out doors. The will and are rusting.

They are not made to transfer weight, and certainly not live loads like people walking on decks. They are made to attach wood framing to concrete but the framing (vertical) parts are supposed to carry the weight.


In the photo above the ledger is ‘shot’ on to the brick. This is not a brick wall. It’s a wood framed wall with a single facing layer of brick (called veneer) on the outside. So if lateral (sideways) forces move this building (earthquake) there is a real risk the ledger will be pulled from the wall, collapsing the deck. (The bricks will just come with it.)

The 2×4 support blocking show above that has been placed to stiffen and support the deck ledger. It has only 2 nails in the concrete. The difference between that an a pair of cinch anchors or through blots is huge and they can be had galvanized or in non-rusting alloys.

The other thing to take note of here is that it’s only the edge/end of 2×4 pieces (several along the length) that reinforce the the ledger. Lateral movement of only 1.5 inches means the deck will fall.


The photo below is the doubled beam the supports the outer half of this deck. Structurally for weight transfer everything is good but there are some issues.

In this part of the continent we are averaging earthquake shock roughly every five years. This can’t be predicted of course and they aren’t major, usually less than 5.0 on the Richter scale.

That’s nothing like what the west coast experiences and most people don’t even notice. But your house does.


So the issues are;

A The bracket on the concrete support is small and hasn’t much grip on the beam. There are 4 small screws holding it and they are less than an inch from the edges of the wood beam. Gravity is doing the rest. There is some surface rust to be taken care of (rust paint).

B There is no blocking or bracing to prevent this beam from rolling over. This can easily be done with wood or metal parts. A few years ago here in Quebec a roof collapsed on a commercial building and employees were killed. Investigators found that the trusses did not fail or break, they just rolled over and collapsed. Bracing was mostly absent.

C The deck joists have no blocking or x-bracing (at the mid span) so they will be a bit bouncy under live load (people) and also risk rolling over.

Just picture a bunch of partying friends line dancing to “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” and all ‘jumping to the left’ in unison. Not the ‘smashing‘ party you want to envision.

Now this is not an emergency. Things will hold together for a while but it needs to be corrected and it wont cost a lot, but on a million dollar house, it should be there.


So when you need a full inspection………………….




Original blog post on ActiveRain: Link to Blog Post