Patio Deck Building: How to Install Low-Profile Beams and Joists

What You'll Need
2 x 8 joists
Joist hangers
Ready Mix cement
Concrete tubes
Post hole digger
1 1/2 inch screws
Skill saw
Tape measure

Patio and deck building is a common project that is done by do it yourself homeowners across the country. Many times this is one of the first big improvements that homeowners make to their home. One of the rules of thumb when building a patio is to keep the floors as low to the ground as possible. This can be done through using low profile beams and joists. A low profile beam is basically a smaller joist like a 2 x 8. When using this smaller width lumber there are changes in the beam and joist spans. This can also lead to pouring more footings for holding the weight of the patio or deck.

Step 1 - Dig Holes for Footing Piers

When using low profile patio and deck building methods you will not be using any type of posts to attach the joists to. You will also have to dig more holes for the footing piers. They should be placed in double rows and there should be an outside row where each pier is spaced at 6 foot intervals. Dig holes for a middle row that is in the exact middle of the patio or deck. All piers should be the same level.

Step 2 - Pour Concrete into Footings

After each of the holes are dug, install the concrete tubes into each one. You may need to mark them at the correct height and cut them to size. Mix up the ready mix concrete according to the directions on the bag. Pour the concrete into the tube and use a float to smooth out the top. Continue to pour all of the footings until they are completed. Set a lag bolt into the center of each of the footing piers to allow for the installation of the joist bracket. Allow at least 48 hours to cure before doing any other work.

Step 3 - Install Double Joist Hanger

Since you are working with low profile lumber for the patio or deck building project you will need to double up on the joists to keep the strength intact. Install some double joist hangers by using the lag bolt that is in the pier. Set the hanger onto the bolt and secure with a nut and washer. Tighten the nut with a socket wrench.

Step 4 - Set Joists in Place

The outside beams will need to be doubled up. The inside joists can be run as normal, but must be installed at 10 inches on center instead of 12. A middle double beam must also be spanned across the center of the patio or the deck. Set the outside beams into place and attach with 2 inch wood screws. The inside joists are attached with the use of single joist hangers. Make any cuts that are necessary with the use of a skill saw.

Step 5 - Install Braces if Needed

In larger patios and decks, anything over 10 feet in length and width, you should set some 2 by braces in between every other joist. This will add more strength and remove any potential bowing of the wood.