How to Install Deck Beams
Get one step closer to the deck of your dreams by learning how to install the beams.
Beams are a crucial part of any deck, so it's imperative that they're properly installed. A beam runs across the posts, parallel to the ledger, and supports the joists.
First consider your construction options: The beam can be a single piece of lumber, a built-up piece with or without spacers, or two pieces of lumber fastened to the sides of the posts. Local codes may help you narrow your options. Some localities consider a beam with spacers stronger than a single board, and others don't. After code compliance your chief concern is how much the beam will show (and therefore how you want it to look) and the amount of space your plan allows for it.
A cantilevered front edge on the deck helps hide the beam unless you're building a raised deck. Then you can hide it with skirting. A low deck might not leave you much vertical space for a beam so you would have to use smaller stock and install an additional post. Instead of digging more holes, you could build a beam that doubles as the header joist, then hang the deck joists between the ledger and the beam.
Expect to spend about three hours installing a 16-foot beam constructed from two 2x10s. Before you begin, set and cut posts, and brush up on your measuring, cutting, drilling, and caulking skills.