NADRA Code Update – We have only just begun.

September 25th, 2019

By Glenn Mathewson

Last year at the NADRA annual meeting, I asked the membership to step up and take the reigns of code development for their industry.  Uncomfortable as it was, I was asking for financial support to NADRA so that I could do this work. Thankfully, many builders and manufacturers heard me loud and clear and decided to be the leaders of their industry.  Click the link here and find out the fellow members you need to thank. They are carrying the industry’s future on their shoulders.

Here is what we have been able to do so far:

  1. Listen, respond, and contribute to the deck code development work being done by the Deck Code Coalition.
  2. Attend a meeting of the Dead and Live Load Subcommittee for the American Society of Civil Engineers where minimum loading and load direction on guards and handrails was being discussed.
  3. Draft proposals for the 2021 International Residential Code (IRC).
  4. Review other’s proposals for the 2021 IRC.
  5. Prepare and deliver testimony at the Committee Action Hearings regarding all deck-proposals, others and ours.
  6. Review public comments attempting to alter the committee decisions.

Now we are preparing for attendance and testimony at the Final Action Hearings in October, the last step to convince others of the value and caution of all the proposals.  After this hearing, the governmental membership will make the final vote through an online process and by early next year, we will have a glimpse into the future code to be adopted across the nation.

While this will close the 2021 IRC development process, the work of representing and defending an industry in codes and standards will never be over.  It requires constant attention, as there are many ways codes and standards are modified and affect our industry. Though we have made great strides in our reputation as an industry leader and in our work in the IRC, we need continued and expanded financial support to keep our momentum.  The list of contributors, provided above, is wonderful, but quite honestly…it should be longer.  The burden of defending an industry as large as decks and railings should not be carried by so few.

Little happens in the world without money driving it and at this time, we can’t address even half of this list below.  We need your help.

Here is a sampling of the kind of places we still need to offer our attention:

  1. International Building Code (IBC) development.  Crazy as it may sound, the 2024 IBC will be developed in 2021, and that means proposals are due by January 2021.  This code regulates decks on commercial buildings and multifamily residential. These deck may not be the elaborate, outdoor living environments many of our builders craft, but they are still decks.  They are still our industry. Tragic deck collapses that have driven outsiders to propose code for decks aren’t solely in private backyards. The mistakes of the past (many still being done today) that haunt our industry happen in apartment decks and those outside churches, coffee shops, real estate offices, and other other public buildings with outdoor spaces.  As soon as the 2021 IRC process concludes in early 2020, we must immediately start work on the IBC.
  2. International Swimming Pool and Spa Code (ISPSC).  This is yet another ICC code with a direct affect on decks.  Have you ever read Section 306 of this code? You probably should… its titled “Decks”.   According to this code, if you put a deck around a hot tub or a hot tub on a deck, the deck must be sloped?  Oh? You only build level decks? You Hack! (ha, ha). This code was first developed in 2012, so it hasn’t taken hold across the country yet, but in my experience…government only gets bigger, not smaller.  It would be prudent to assume you will face this code in your future, so perhaps we should be taking part in how it reads.
  3. American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE).  ASCE-7 is the standard where all dead and live loads on structures are determined.  This organization and the committee in charge of the work deals with loads on everything from high rise buildings to vehicular bridges to backyard decks.  With all respect to their membership’s qualifications, quite frankly, decks aren’t where they spend their professional time. It’s imperative that those that do spend their time with decks bring their voice to these professionals and contribute their knowledge and experience.  I’ll be attending their October 17th meeting where guard loads will be discussed for modification.
  4. ICC-Evaluation Services.  New products and ideas hit the market and need to be tested for equivalency to code prescribed methods.  Often new test methods have to be developed and ICC-ES conducts a transparent process to develop Acceptance Criteria (AC).  This criteria then establishes a precedence for how similar products must be tested for approval. Does the deck and railing industry have unique and proprietary products?  Of course! And we need to be sure we are there when the measure of these products, the ACs, are created.
  5. American Wood Protection Association (AWPA).  This organization and their standard AWPA U1 and M4 are the authority on decay resistance of lumber.  Decks got major attention in their 2016 edition of this standard, and the results appear to require ground-contact-rated treated material for nearly every part of the structure, regardless of climate or distance above grade.  This is a big subject, and one we should have an ear to, as the controversy around this is bound to surface. Here’s a video that explains the details…in detail.  You can decide what you think is required from the new language in the standard. https://youtu.be/27Hkb2ktYsM
  6. American Wood Council (AWC).  You may have heard of a document called “DCA-6”…I expect you have.  Before the 2015 IRC recognized decks with specific design provisions, the AWC had already begun to provide them in their document.  Many governments point to this document as their deck standard. While the AWC has contributed greatly to deck codes in the IRC, they still develop this document to fill in the remaining holes.  We have a great relationship with this organization and certainly should be available to assist and contribute to their great work in our industry.
  7. All code is local code.  Have you ever heard this before?  Though the ICC and the organizations above are the highest level of authority, they actually have no authority at all.  The authority is in the governments that adopt these standards as their rule of law. Unfortunately, many of these governments believe they know better and they amend the code prior to adoption.  This is where the rubber meets the road or should I say the code meets the decks. Though we could never attend all the meetings in the tens of thousands of jurisdictions across this country, we certainly could and should take part in state actions and major cities in major deck markets.  The state of Georgia recently finalized their new code adoption for 2020 and the City and County of Denver is running hearings right now for their new code next year. Paying attention to state and local level issues is all a part of what we could and should do. Bottom line…all this attention requires money.

We need you to see the importance of this work and make it important to you. Your future self will thank you.  As always, NADRA and myself have an open line for you to communicate your codes and standards concerns and ideas, but before you do, please click this link.

I’d Like to File a Complaint

The team at NADRA Headquarters recently received an email from a member. We thought it was important enough, that we should send it to you for review.

Please let us know what you think. You are welcome to comment publicly.

“Dear NADRA:

I hope this finds you well.

I need to file a complaint and unfortunately it is about NADRA.

NOT KIDDING.


It has recently come to my attention that NADRA causes anxiety, stress, sleep deprivation and migraines, along with an array of other unfortunate issues.


Ever since we won those awards last year at the annual banquet, we have been forced to raise our credit limit with both our bank and our main supplier.


This has created an additional work load for my wife, Dianna, who runs the office.


As of this week we are only 4 jobs behind the total number of projects we installed all of last year.


My dog doesn’t recognize me anymore since I’m never home. He thinks a stranger is trying to take him for a walk.


My lumber yard is having a hard time keeping product on hand.


My permit office has a daily limit, therefore my trips there have increased.


I’ve actually considered asking them to put in a coffee bar so I can get a couple extra cups while I do my paperwork there.


Our local paper ran an article on us prior to the annual Home Show in March and we had a line 30 minutes long of people waiting to talk to us. My feet and back still hurt from standing all day. My Chiropractor told me he can’t help. People drove from over an hour away to discuss their projects. Ask us for design ideas and options. Other local contractors were stopping by for advice, which I freely provided.


We have gone from a respected local company to ” THE LOCAL COMPANY”.
Even though we aren’t our suppliers largest volume customer, we are one that they now consult with on new products.


I’m getting up every morning between 4:30 and 5. I’m on appointments at 7am several days per week. I’m up doing paperwork til 11 pm. Running on fumes and it’s all your fault.


NADRA has forced me to become far more efficient with my time, pre qualifying leads, planning projects and deliveries as well as forcing me to get a new prescription for my eye glasses. It’s all your fault.


I have to admit, never in all my life did I think I had a shot at winning a National Award, nonetheless 2 of them. Nor did I ever dream what a ripple effect this would have on our business. I can’t tell how how much I really appreciate everything you, the girls, Mike and all the other members of NADRA have done for me and my family. I over worked myself like a mad man for 38 years, holding the line on sticking with quality and not lowering our standards during the lean economic years. Fought like a guard dog to protect our reputation and my friends would joke that I was like a starving artist and would never achieve acclaim or recognition. NADRA provided that recognition.


In one short evening you guys helped validate those 12 and 14 hour days, slogging in the rain, snow or 100 degree temps. Missing family events to meet deadlines. Then when my body wore out, those long nights of paperwork and sales calls.


You guys ROCK. The value created by these awards has been off the charts, I really want to thank you for everything, I can’t say enough. But do you have anything for my migraine?”


Thanks Again,
Brendan Casey Casey Fence And Deck Setting The Standard In Excellence With Our Pride In Craftsmanship38 Years Experience Nationally Recognized Multi Award Winning Custom Deck Specialist.

(Read more about the deck competition, dinner tickets and sponsorship opportunities here: http://bit.ly/FileAComplaintNADRA

Update from NADRA

August 2019

The building and materials industry represents a number of categories that have determined life expectancy of different components; asphalt shingles, for instance, have a life expectancy of 20 years, aluminum and vinyl windows are expected to last 10 to 15 years. The exposed components that makeup decks are no different.  

This question has come to the forefront recently as we now have over a decade of in-service performance to evaluate the new copper-based and metal-free treatments that replaced CCA for residential applications. This calls into question material longevity assumptions, prior building practices, code-development, as well as optimal material and hardware selections to deliver a higher-quality finished product than what could have been crafted in generations past.

If a deck structure is to stay secure long-term and perform to the future client’s needs and expectations, then it often will require not only the specification of higher-performing materials installed with a level of professional skill, but planned maintenance and performance viability inspections beyond just initial-construction code-based evaluations. Just like a car, with regular inspections any parts of the system that need repair can be addressed before a life-threatening or major safety situation occurs. The approach of building a deck “as a system” as opposed to a list of independent parts is a mindset shift required by not just the trade professionals, but more so by the end consumer as a significant number of decks are built by the DIY marketplace.

So what has NADRA done? NADRA’s Check Your Deck®, Deck Safety Month® program, along with NADRA’s Education and Certification in Deck Evaluation and Code initiatives have been at the forefront of industry professionals and consumer-focused media for over a decade. These programs provide builders and the greater public, constant reminders of the importance of having an experienced trade professional review your deck to address questions before they become problems keep families and friends away from harm. 

To this end, Matthew Breyer, NADRA President was asked to sit down at NAHB Headquarters in Washington DC. Matt met with representatives from the NAHB, as both industry associations look for opportunities to work together to answer questions like these and others.

We will continue to update you on these efforts.

It’s Time For Something NEW!

If there’s one thing we are never short of here at NADRA HQ, it’s work to be done. As you’ve been hammering away at the job site this summer, building masterpieces, selling innovative products, inspecting beautiful outdoor living spaces; we too have been hard at work. We’ve been planning for our members’ and the remainder of 2019. What we want to mention here is not the deck competition, not sponsorships or a code update, not even deck safety! Can you believe that?! What we want to tell you is that we are about to launch a brand new membership database. There are NEW benefits for every member with this new upgraded software. See what’s in store: 

Online Billing & Online Payments: 

  • You can now set up automatic payments!
  • Member Add-ons

NEW Membership Directory: 

  • NEW! *Interactive Member Profiles
  • Interactive Map! Visitors to NADRA.org can search and zoom in on members in any location, and click directly on YOUR profile from the popup previews (address security is controlled by YOU!) 
  • NEW! *Add-on such as adding your company social media links to your member profile listing
  • Website visitors can send you an email direct from your profile page (without your email address being displayed!) 
  • Best Part! YOU have full control over your member profile. You can login and update it at any time. 

Event Calendar and Event Registration: 

  • Browse NADRA events and industry related events
  • NEW! *Member contributed events: Certain tier members will be permitted access to post their own events

These are just a few of the upgrades to our new membership database and directory. If you are a current member of NADRA, you can expect an email from us real soon (within the next week) explaining even more and providing you with the next steps to access your profile page. 

*Important Notice: If your membership in NADRA expired, please consider renewing online today. Once we go live with the new database / directory, expired and terminated members will not be listed. You always have the choice to re-join at a later date.

NTA joins the International Code Council’s family of solutions

The acquisition will add laboratory and testing capabilities to the Code Council service offerings and will foster innovation by streamlining the time-to-market for product manufacturers

Nappanee, IN – The International Code Council announced today that it has acquired NTA, a leading provider of testing services, product certification, inspection, engineering, off-site construction plan review, and code evaluation. The Indiana-based company will significantly expand the services the Code Council provides by adding major laboratory and testing capabilities.

NTA currently serves residential and commercial builders, code officials, manufacturers and suppliers throughout the building industry. The company has offices and a testing laboratory in Nappanee, Indiana, and will soon break ground on a new testing campus in Bryan, Texas. Additional information about the new facility will be available soon.

“NTA joining the Code Council will bring their exceptional testing capabilities to our suite of services,” said Code Council Chief Executive Officer Dominic Sims, CBO. “This acquisition helps us to better fulfill our building safety mission and serve our members and clients.”

NTA maintains one of the largest manufacturing inspection workforces in the market, and its inspection professionals currently hold hundreds of Code Council certifications. Its network of auditors enables it to provide review and inspection of in-plant quality control procedures, ensuring consistent quality of products for code compliance.

“Since its founding in 1976, NTA has stood for quality and integrity,” said David A. Tompos, President and CEO of NTA. “We are a family-owned company, and entering into this partnership makes us a member of a larger family of companies. We are proud to be a part of the Code Council and are excited about the opportunities this relationship will open up for both companies.”

“ICC Evaluation Service (ICC-ES) is thrilled about this new acquisition,” stated ICC-ES President Shahin Moinian, P.E. “We are a global leader in technical evaluations of building products, and the addition of NTA to the family of solutions will allow us to further streamline the time-to-market for product manufacturers by offering testing services in house.”

Representatives from the Code Council and NTA signed the agreement today at the University of Notre Dame in Notre Dame, Indiana.


About the International Code Council
The International Code Council is a nonprofit association that provides a wide range of building safety solutions including product evaluation, accreditation, certification, codification, and training. It develops model codes and standards used worldwide to construct safe, sustainable, affordable and resilient structures.

About NTA, Inc.
NTA, Inc. provides code evaluation, product certification, inspection, engineering, off-site construction plan review, and testing services, as well as independent quality and standards compliance verification for many building products.


Download the PDF Verison

Contact: Madison Neal
(202) 754-1173
mneal@iccsafe.org

Simpson Strong-Tie Promotes Deck Safety Month® with an Updated Online Deck Resource Center for Contractors and Homeowners

Pleasanton, Calif. — Simpson Strong-Tie, the leader in engineered structural connectors and building solutions, today announced a comprehensive update to its online deck resource center in conjunction with Deck Safety Month.

Presented each May by the North American Deck and Railing Association (NADRA), Deck Safety Month is dedicated to raising deck safety awareness for contractors and homeowners. According to NADRA, of the 50 million decks in the US alone, it’s estimated that 25 million currently need to be replaced or repaired.

In addition to Deck Safety Month resources available at nadra.org, the Simpson Strong-Tie® Deck Center is an online resource that provides deck builders and consumers with in-depth deck safety information, an idea and inspiration page for building safe decks, as well as a selection of videos, online and in-person training opportunities, literature, and industry tips for safe deck construction.

With most wood decks expected to last only 10 to 15 years, contractors and homeowners can also explore the 5 Warning Signs of an Unsafe Deck. Rotting wood, missing hardware, and other hazards can all contribute to unsafe conditions, and Deck Safety Month presents an ideal opportunity to conduct simple deck inspections that can head off problems before failures occur.

Visitors to the Simpson Strong-Tie Deck Center can also get installation details and feature and benefit information for a wide range of deck connectors, fasteners and construction solutions offered by Simpson Strong-Tie, including the complete line of Outdoor Accents®decorative hardware.

For more information about deck safety, including best practices for designing, inspecting, and repairing great decks, visit the Simpson Strong-Tie Deck Center, watch our newest video featuring “6 Warning Signs of Unsafe Decks,” and read our deck safety posts on the Simpson Strong-Tie Building Strong blog.

Viance Hires Reid Price as Graphic Design Manager

Charlotte, N.C. (May 7, 2019) – Viance, a leading innovator in the wood preservation industry, is pleased to announce the hiring of Reid Price, who has joined the Viance team as Graphic Design Manager. In this role, Reid will utilize his graphic design, photography and videography experience, to design print and digital advertising, point of purchase materials, logos, and technical product brochures.

Reid comes to Viance with over 10 years’ experience in art direction and communications with Future’s Graphics, LLC, the SC Chamber of Commerce and Magnum Publications. Reid earned his BA in Graphic Design and Studio Arts from the University of South Carolina. He has been awarded the Best in Business award by the SCSAE for design for Business Week and the Silver Wing and Mercury Awards by SCPRSA for design work on SC Business Magazine.

“Reid’s breadth of experience will strengthen our ability to provide our customers industry-leading services,” states Edie Kello, Director of Marketing. His track record serving B2B companies makes him well-suited for success in this role.”

About Viance

Viance, a leading provider of wood treatment preservatives, offers an extensive range of advanced wood treatment technologies and services to the global wood preservation industry. With expertise in wood biocides and wood protection chemicals, Viance technologies improve the performance and durability of wood products for sustainable building. Viance is a joint venture of Dupont™ and Venator™ Materials PLC.

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Successful Northeast NADRA Meeting

First of all, we would like to thank Trex for sponsoring the Northeast NADRA meeting at the Chimney Rock Inn in Flemington, NJ last Tuesday evening.  We had a really great turnout and there were many new faces in the room.  It was great to connect with all of our fellow members and getting to meet the first time guests.  We also spoke a bit about NADRA education and the code initiative.  We received one contribution for the code initiative last night at the meeting & one after the event the following day. We are hoping for more to follow!  One member who donated is hoping to start a challenge to see who else will match his donation! Further down the page is a list of the NADRA member that have contributed to our code fundraising initiative.

“Trex would like to thank NADRA for the opportunity to sponsor their meeting in New Jersey last week. The overwhelming support from both NADRA and all of its members was greatly appreciated and is a testimony to the partnership we share, We are looking forward to a great decking season in 2019. Thank you!”

Tim Schlosser, Trex District Manager

Special thank you to the following NADRA members for contributing to the 2019 Code Initiative: In bold are NADRA members from New Jersey & Pennsylvania:

  • NADRA Builder Member, Southeastern Underdeck Systems, LLC
  • NADRA Builder Member, C. Verblaauw & Sons, LLC
  • NADRA Builder Member, Deck and Basement Company
  • NADRA Builder Member, O’Keefe Built, Inc. 
  • NADRA Builder Member, Titan Building Products
  • NADRA Builder Member, Back to Nature Decks
  • NADRA Builder Member, Casey Fence and Deck
  • NADRA Distributor Member, Excelsior Lumber
  • NADRA Manufacturer Member, HDG Engineered Products
  • NADRA Manufacturer Members, TREX
  • NADRA Builder Members, Decks by Kiefer
  • NADRA Builder Member, DeckRemodelers.com

To learn more about NADRA’s initiative in code, or to make a contribution today, please visit the fundraising and updates page HERE.

Trex Company Publishes 2018 Sustainability Report

January 14, 2019 09:00 AM Eastern Standard Time

WINCHESTER, Va.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Trex Company, Inc. (NYSE:TREX), the world’s number one brand of decking and railing and leader in high-performance, low-maintenance outdoor living products, and a leading national provider of custom-engineered railing systems, today published its 2018 Sustainability Report.

The Report includes a comprehensive review of the Trex Company’s strategy and performance on environmental, social and governance (ESG) programs and initiatives, and was prepared using the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) Building Products & Furnishings standards and supplemented with topics of interest to leading industry ratings agencies. For the full report, click here.

Jim Cline, President and Chief Executive Officer, commented: “Sustainability practices are an integral part of our history, our strategy and our day-to-day operations. As the largest recycler of plastic bags in the United States, and a major user of recycled aluminum and steel, Trex is able to offer consumers the highest quality decking and railings available in the marketplace – together with the assurance that our products are environmentally sound. We encourage our stakeholders to read our 2018 Sustainability Report, which showcases our past achievements and reaffirms our commitment to sustainability, social responsibility and transparency on a broad range of ESG topics.”

About Trex Company

Trex Company is the world’s largest manufacturer of high performance wood-alternative decking and railing, with more than 25 years of product experience. Stocked in more than 6,700 retail locations worldwide, Trex outdoor living products offer a wide range of style options with fewer ongoing maintenance requirements than wood, as well as a truly environmentally responsible choice. Also, Trex is a leading national provider of custom-engineered railing, staging, acoustical and seating systems for the commercial and multi-family market, including performing arts venues and sports stadiums. For more information, visit trex.com.

Contacts

Bryan Fairbanks
Executive Vice President and CFO
540-542-6300

Lynn Morgen/Viktoriia Nakhla
AdvisIRy Partners
212-750-5800

NADRA Code Update

Here’s a run down of proposals likely to be submitted Jan. 7th with the combined support of nearly all the contributors of the Deck Code Coalition.  I am proud of NADRA for being a part of this support.

By Glenn Mathewson

At the annual meeting in October, it was announced that I was prepared to work for NADRA and the decking industry to represent them in the development of the 2021 International Residential Code.  I know it’s hard for most to wrap their heads around the idea of changing the 2018 code already, considering it doesn’t even have widespread adoption yet. That’s why you’ve hired me, and I’ve already gotten to work.  The best place to begin that work was to contribute to the Deck Code Coalition, an unofficial coalition of the most powerful interests in deck code. Organizations such as the NAHB, SMA and AWC are involved. Code officials from multiple ICC chapters, product manufacturers, engineering firms, and many other professionals from various backgrounds are also there.  Where is there? It’s an imaginary campfire with all interests sitting around together, sharing, talking, contributing, arguing at times, but yet no one has been thrown in the fire. This is how code should be developed, with the overall interest being the people…the end user. I believe the efforts thus far, thanks to those members that have financially contributed, have been more successful than I expected.  

Here’s a run down of proposals likely to be submitted Jan. 7th with the combined support of nearly all the contributors of the Deck Code Coalition.  I am proud of NADRA for being a part of this support.

Are you shocked by the new minimum14-inch diameter footing/pier required in the 2018 IRC?  If you haven’t heard, even the four footings under that small stair landing must be 14 inch.  We expressed our concerns of this to the DCC and the American Wood Council (AWC) agreed and re-engineered new minimum footing diameters for the table.   How does a minimum 8-inch diameter sound for those little landing? Well, that’s what is being proposed and supported by the DCC. Had NADRA not expressed our concerns, no one was going to address it.  The AWC deserves a big thank you for their engineering work.

The new beam, joist and post sizing tables first included in the 2015 IRC only handled regions with up to a 40 psf snow load.  Through significant effort from the AWC, new larger tables have been engineered to handle snow loads of 50, 60 , and 70 psf. This new code, if included in the IRC, won’t help out for all regions, but for the snowier regions that were left with nothing but job-specific engineering, this provides a much more affordable design option.

Poorly written code is hard to understand, makes the industry it addresses look ignorant, and lends itself to inconsistent interpretation.  Changes to the exceptions for footing sizes and frost protection were left pretty messy in the 2018 IRC. A proposal that reorganizes those provisions will make the code much easier to read and understand.  While this may not seem like a big deal to many, rest assured, it’s worthwhile work.

Guards and handrails are like peanut butter and jelly, they are completely different, but often end up in the same sandwich.  Guards along stairs may include a handrail feature at the top, or they may support a handrail at the side, but serve a different function and must resist different loads and load directions.  The IRC has always lumped these two features together in the load table that specifies the load and load directions they must resist. With recent testing and validation for guard strength, manufacturers and others have published many details for how to build guards.  NADRA has long stood that before work is done to design guards to resist the code-specified minimum loads, those loads should be re-evaluated. In my research of minimum guard loading over the last 5 decades, it’s clear to see that the target loads have been a “best guess”.  After attending a meeting with the American Society of Civil Engineers (the authority on design loads) and supporting efforts by the NAHB, we are proud that a proposal to separate guards and handrails in the load table and address the direction of loading for guards more specifically will be submitted by the DCC in January.

On the same subject of guard loading, we have worked diligently to help other interests in deck code understand what we understand about guard design.  It’s creative and unique and that’s what “the people” want. Reputable professionals have a strong motivation to see a specific guard post connection detail illustration with proprietary hardware devices in the pages of the IRC.  The intent is good natured and understandable. Inspectors have long had nothing but a push on guards as their measure of code compliance (safety), and that can leave anyone with that responsibility a little uneasy. They too see the news of the failing decks across our country.  This is respectable and understandable. However, builders are equally uneasy about another “picture” being put in the code that appears to universally require proprietary hardware and a specific method for post attachment. Remember the lateral load anchor? How can you forget? It’s false flag and illusion of a complete lateral load design have forever changed the industry, and still today, 10 years later, it’s only “permitted” not “required”.  A picture is worth a thousand words, and for many inspectors there’s no need to read the permissive words if the seemingly required picture is there. We can’t see this happen to guards the same way it happened to ledgers.

The will to address poorly built deck guards in the IRC is strong and has made two attempts at guard structural design code in the last two editions.  To do this work respectably, no one should have everything their way. While NADRA has incredible experience with boots on the ground, we don’t know it all.  If we appreciate the experience from other professionals when we agree, then we must also respect their experiences when we disagree. With this humble philosophy comes respectable code.  Code that was carried to the hearings in many loving arms is far greater than code pushed in with singular, selfish power. Compromise has to be made by all, so NADRA took the first step. To respect the concerns of others and hope they return it with respect for ours, we entertained new code language to prohibit some of the notoriously insufficient guard designs.  Minimum 4×4 posts for guards will eliminate some shoddy 2×4 posts that can be found. Notching of 4×4 posts in guard construction has been done for all of time, and though it works in some rare cases, it generally does not. Research has been done on this subject, and the proof is pretty clear. To help show our willingness to address this common mode of guard failure, NADRA has thus far agreed to support a prohibition of notching 4×4 guard posts.  Other proposed code language includes clear instruction that the guard posts must be secured to adjacent joists and transfer the loads into the whole deck, not just the rim joist. We were careful this language didn’t specify “blocking” that could interfere with deck drainage systems. We also made sure to exclude any mention of proprietary hardware.

It was our hope that by taking the first step to compromise and draft code language to address guard safety we would encourage others of the same teamwork and they would withdrawal their proposal for a “picture”.  Unfortunately…we were unsuccessful. Though the DCC was able to agree on 6 proposals, including the one we compromised in, select members have announced they will still propose the “picture” and we must battle it out at the hearings.  To say I’m disappointed is an understatement, and to say I didn’t lose a little respect for those professionals would be a lie. The code must represent all professional experiences and be the best mix of them all. Period. The professionals contributing to the DCC bring enough experience and spent enough time sharing it together, that any proposal that could not be agreed upon by all, is a proposal unfit for the hearing and for the code.  Period. No exceptions. In bringing the voice of the decking industry to the code development process, we must do it with as much respect and understanding as possible, and we can only hope to receive it in return. Alas, NADRA will need to take that message to the hearing and be sure the attendance knows that the guard picture proposed next year is lacking the support of many professionals.

Now for the bad news… Helping with these 6 proposals is only a slice of the work to be done.  They are simply the proposals we could contribute to before the hearings. On January 7th of next year, thousands of pages of proposals will be submitted and they will likely contain many deck-related proposals we have yet to know anything about.  NADRA must be prepared to comb through these proposals when they are published in March. I’ve heard some rumors of two proposals to expect. One to require the same additional load on deck boards that stair treads must resist.  Notice how with most plastic composite lumber you can’t span as far on stair treads as you can for deck boards? A max 16-inch span for decking is often reduced to 12 inches on stairs, but not if that proposal wins. Of course every single max span you have come to know could change with this next one.  A proposal from a powerful proponent is likely to be submitted, one that would raise the minimum design live load of 40 psf to 60 psf, but just for decks. Not the floor inside the house.

Did you hear those last two?  Ready to change all your design norms?  Ready to retest all your manufactured decking?  Are you ready for singular powers that don’t manufacture, sell, or build decks to tell you how to do it? When was the last time you had a deck built to 40 psf collapse under load? Not due to some construction flaw.

These last few months of 2018 have proven the necessity for NADRA to have funding to represent the industry in code, but the work has hardly begun. Much is still needed of the membership if NADRA is to continue contributing to this work. Your help is needed.

To support NADRA’s important Code initiative, please visit and share our code fundraising page and consider contributing today. 

Thank you for your support!