I changed the layout of the decking on a free-standing front porch I am building.

Original design: Deck blocks with 4x4 posts under double 2x8 beams. joists to the beams using hangers.

New (lower) design: joists set directly in castle-type deck blocks: no beams, no posts. 18" off the ground.

I could return the hangers and toenail the rim joists directly to the ends of the span joists and cover with skirting.

But I am left wondering if there is still some benefit to using the joist hangers even if the joists aren't actually "hanging" at all but are supported by the blocks. Such as keeping the joists completely vertical, etc...

Some questioned why set joists on castles - deck is replacing a large cement step set on an even larger cement pad. I demolished the step but cannot demo the pad. Then I realized it is level and sloped already so I can use it as the base. Doing so means I only have 17" total height to work with to keep under the door sill, which meant no room for conventional beam.

Also, this is floating, free-standing construction that is exempt from all permitting where I live - I already checked into that with my zb.

  • 1
    Welcome to Home Improvement. A couple of pictures of your current setup would certainly help ensure others are accurately seeing what you're describing. Edit your post, then click the "sun & mountain" icon above the text entry box to upload the pics for hosting.
    – FreeMan
    Commented Jul 24, 2020 at 14:29
  • All that said, joist hangers will help ensure that your joists are firmly held in place, even if they're not hanging. Depending on your location, they may be required even if the whole thing is sitting on the ground. If this is permitted work, a call to your inspector (department) may be in order.
    – FreeMan
    Commented Jul 24, 2020 at 14:31
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    What's the point of setting every joist on a block? The challenge I predict is getting them all perfectly level. That's the main benefit (aside from cost) of using a conventional flush beam on just a few blocks.
    – isherwood
    Commented Jul 24, 2020 at 14:47
  • there is some benefit to the hangers, (they are stronger than toe nailing) but I can't say this this is a significant benefit.
    – Jasen
    Commented Jul 25, 2020 at 2:30
  • @isherwood because there is a cement pad properly level and sloped under 2/3 the area the deck will cover. Commented Jul 25, 2020 at 16:38

1 Answer 1


Coming back much later to say "yes" and "I did" and here's why:

Just because they are called "hangers" doesn't mean that's their sole purpose. They tie the verticals in such a way that they stay vertical and resist tipping. They also are connected firmly to the ends.

As some commented, putting every joist in a castle block leads to problems with keeping the deck flat across the surface since now you have to ensure all the blocks are level- much harder to do and no guarantee they don't heave anyway. Plus they are too close together, etc.

So I used 6 castle blocks to support the deck and it worked fine.

  • 1
    Guess I should have made an answer out of my comment 2 years ago... :)
    – FreeMan
    Commented Aug 15, 2023 at 16:43

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