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The deck in question

Menard’s handy deck building app recommended this design, but it has 2x4’s connecting at right angles to the balusters. All I can think to do to attach them is toenailing with screws or nails, but this doesn’t seem like it would be able to support much weight.

Is there a better way to attached these 2x4’s?

In case the picture isn’t clear, the balusters are set every four feet, attached to the deck baseboards by carriage bolts. Between every two balusters are two 2x4’s, one for the spindles to attach to, and a second to cover this as a railing.

This design calls for both 2x4’s to be positioned between the balusters entirely. They don’t run on the deck side or lawn side of the balusters. This is not one long 2x4 that connects all the balusters, but small sections cut to go between them.

Thank you for your time! Any ideas are appreciated.

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  • Perhaps pocket screws?
    – Huesmann
    Sep 16, 2023 at 12:16
  • Just got clarity's sake: is the question confusing balaustres with posts? As I understand it, balaustres are the thin spindles every 4 inches, not the posts, which are the 4*4s every 4'.
    – Cheery
    Sep 17, 2023 at 10:01
  • Chop off those posts and run the top rail continuously from corner to corner. Aesthetically, if you had already implemented it with a continuous top rail, would the thought occur to you: "You know what's missing? Ornamental stubs sticking up through the hand rail." Would you then buy 8" tall ornamental stubs and add them above each post? I'd use those powder coated, blue pocket screws at the corner connections or I might even delete those architectural stubs at the corners and miter cut the top rails there.
    – popham
    Sep 29, 2023 at 2:34

1 Answer 1

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A good way to address this connection is to use TimberLOK Structural Wood Screws in an 8" length installed as shown below in a top view.

enter image description here

The diagram above shows dealing with the 2x4s that are on edge under the hand rail on the top. You work from two directions through the 4x4 post. When you have face access you can embed two screws through the post into the 2x4 like shown to the left. Once that left 2x4 is installed you angle two screws as shown into the 2x4 on the right. I use 1/4" pilot hole through the posts for such application and drill partially into the 2x4 to start the screw into the end grain of the 2x4. TimberLOK screws hold very well in the end grain with the 4-5 inches of embedment as shown. You can also over drive the screws down below the surface of the post so that the heads do not stick out and cause problems with the next 2x4.

If your wood is of a type that wants to split as you drive the long screws into the 2x4s you may need to drill pilot holes into full depth using the over drilled 1/4" clearance drill as a guide. Long spade bits or auger bits that are long is the selection of choice for drilling. I've had good luck with 1/4" and 3/16" size for the pilot holes.

For the top rail you have several choices. You can use a similar strategy using the 8" TimberLOK screws as shown above. Alternatively you could use shorter similar screw up through the bottom of the vertical 2x4 to secure the top rail. Nailing down from the top is also an option using 3.5" long stainless steel ring shank nails.

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  • Good answer, but the ‘top rail’ part needs a bit of clarity. (I would also propose something like a 2x6 on the flat on top for drink and elbow placement, possibly cutting the newel post tops for longer lengths.) Note that the handrail down the stairs always needs a graspable width, so either no cap or an added graspable handrail. Sep 16, 2023 at 12:28
  • Oops, mea culpa: read too fast and didn't catch that there was a second 2x4 in the design. (That might teach me to read on my phone...) Sep 17, 2023 at 2:32

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