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How To Use Joist Hangers


Joist hangers are a versatile tool that blend structural strength and eye-catching design in your outdoor living space. Built to support deck floor joists, joist hangers are rapidly growing in popularity for their decorative looks in under-deck areas or pergolas.

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Let us walk you through everything you need to know about one of the most-frequently-purchased pieces of structural hardware in decking, and how joist hangers can transform your backyard living space.


Joist hangers are typically used to attach and hold your lumber floor joists in place against your structure's beams. Deck beams are sturdy structural pieces that span the length of your deck along your house, or parallel to your house. Floor joists, on the other hand, are structural boards that run perpendicular to your beams, spanning from one beam to another. If you want to learn more about deck framing, check out our handy guide here.

Joists are typically 2x6 inches, 2x8 inches, or 2x10 inches depending upon the size and design of your backyard pergola, pavilion, or deck. 

Joist hangers are usually three-sided pieces that wrap around the bottom, left, and right sides of the floor joist. Today, joist hangers are typically adjustable two-piece brackets that are attached together via fasteners, though older models can be solid one-piece components.

Find out how to install joist hangers and learn more about the basics of joist hangers and structural hardware for your backyard DIY deck build

How to use joist hangers

An incredibly contemporary way to highlight your DIY pergola and patio cover build, joist hangers have made building a backyard shade structure easier than ever. With your wood joist held in position flush against the adjacent lumber, simply drive the appropriate fastener fully into the beam. Then secure the joist-to-beam bracket to the end of the joist through the pre-drilled openings.

How do joist hangers work?

Joist hangers create a connection spot between the joist lumber and ledger board, beam, or rim joist to create a roof or floor surface for the outdoor structure. Molded from strong steel, joist hangers will keep your deck floor or pergola ceiling from twisting or shrinking as it dries.

When installed correctly, deck joist hangers will ensure that your deck floor or roof remains squared and strong. They can also, however, act as decorative detail pieces that showcase your DIY structural build and enhance the appearance of the entire outdoor space.

How much can a joist hanger support?

Manufactured joist hangers are all rigorously tested for building code compliance to ensure a piece of structural hardware that meets load-bearing and shear strength minimums. The International Building Code (IBC) and International Residential Code (IRC) set different weight load capacities depending on the size of your joist and the type of fastening hardware being used, 

Joist Size

Weight Capacity


400 lbs


500 lbs


600 lbs


700 lbs

Learn the basic building information of joist hangers and structural hardware to create the DIY pergola or pavilion you've always hoped for

How to install a joist hanger on a deck

Joist hangers are manufactured as either one-piece or two-piece components and will vary slightly in their installation instructions. Be sure to read through your specific instructions before attaching.

To attach a joist hanger, clamp or have friends hold the wood joist in place against the beam. Secure the joist hanger in place against the beam with galvanized steel screws, stainless steel screws, or coated steel screws for a long-lasting hold through the openings in the hardware. Then drive fasteners through the openings to connect the joist to the hanger itself.

Popular Joist Hanger Brands

Top deck brands like Simpson Strong-Tie and Wild Hog Railing offer top-of-the-line structural hardware to complete your DIY backyard build.

With hardware crafted from strong, galvanized steel, these customer-favorite deck brands can help you perfect your DIY shade structure! Joist hangers are the ideal choice for building a pergola, pavilion, arbor, or patio cover. These handy pieces of hardware will help you create the outdoor living space you've always wanted  - and you can rest easy knowing that your outdoor living space will remain strong for years into the future.

Learn more about the basics of deck framing and building in our Deck Framing Guide and learn deck parts and terminology in the DecksDirect Glossary of Deck Terms and Lingo.

Browse more deck design and railing style notes to upgrade your backyard space and deck in the DecksDirect Railing Style Guide: the quickest way to learn if your home is more suited for a classic aluminum deck railing or a strong, composite railing line.

More Deck Project Resources