For Part 2 (click here for Part 1) of Deck Design Do's and Don't's, I want to address guard post attachments. Based on research at Virginia Tech, we now know that typical attachments used in deck construction do not meet code required design loads. One such instance can be seen in the picture below.
The 4x4 post has been notched and nailed to the exterior rimboard of the deck. As you can see, the nails in the thin portion of the member have created a split in the wood along the grain. Similar notched and un-notched connections with bolts also fail to meet the code design loads.
Use of hold-down anchor brackets, as shown in the picture below, are required to be installed at guard posts to meet the design loads. The primary method of failure for typical bolted connections stems from the rotation created in the rimboard. The rimboard attachment to the joists must support that rotation. Hold-down anchors provide a means of transferring the load out of the rimboard and into the floor system.
Photo Courtesy of Simpson Strong-tie.
For more information on deck design, including links to deck design guides, you can look at my previous post here. For more information about guard post connections you can look here for details and here for design.