What is CLP? It stands for Continuous Load Path. A continuous load path is construction method that creates a series of solid connections within your deck’s structure. Why is it important? There are many different kinds of forces that work against your deck’s structure and weaken it. Having a continuous load path helps your deck withstand:
- Gravity – downward pressure typically caused from people standing on the deck or from snow and ice.
- Lateral pressure – a back and forth (horizontal) motion caused by people walking on the deck and/or leaning on a railing. Wind and earthquakes can also create lateral movement.
- Uplift – wind flows under the deck creating a lifting effect. A person standing on the overhang of the deck also creates upward pressure on the connection that attaches the deck to the adjacent support structure (typically your home).
A continuous load path transfers load through its frame to the ground and adjacent support structure (commonly your home).
Ok sounds good – what do I need? Start with metal connectors. Connecting the frame of a house together with metal connectors increases the strength of a home. Connections made with metal connectors are much more difficult to be pulled apart. It takes greater force to separate a connector than a toe-nailed connection. Adding connectors is a relatively inexpensive investment. Depending on the size of your deck, it can cost anywhere between a few hundred dollars to maybe a thousand dollars.
All decks need lateral stability, but if you are building an elevated deck, the need for bracing increases. Generally speaking, if the width of a deck (across the house) is less than or equal to the depth (perpendicular to the house), bracing may be required. The wider a deck is compared with its depth, the easier it is to stabilize.
If the decking boards will be laid perpendicular or parallel to the house, the deck will need angle braces between the columns for elevated decks, along with bracing under the joists. Diagonally installed decking significantly stabilizes the structure by tying all the floor joist structure back to the attachment to the house – and it looks clean and cosmetically appealing.
Also plan for what will be placed on the deck. Reinforce the structure where a heavy grill or other item will add a constant load; doubling or tripling the joists where the grill will be is usually adequate. Supporting a spa requires additional columns and beams that make a continuous load path down to the footings. Double the joists under spas, and shorten the span between beams.
A continuous load path is like a chain that ties the house together from the roof to the foundation. For decks, it’s just as important. Especially for elevated decks, consulting both a geotechnical and a structural engineer is crucial. It’s not cheap, but the more details you can provide the engineers for review, the less their charges will be. The alternative, risking a deck failure only a few years after it’s built, it no fun for anyone.Share It