What Are the Kinds of Structural Hardware

What is Structural Hardware?

Structural hardware is the connective tissue holding your big deck projects together. 

A deck, pergola, pavilion or arbor is typically made up of big, heavy pieces: joists, beams, posts, rafters and more. They’re often solid wood, though they can also be metal.

Structural hardware holds those big pieces together: think joist holders, post bases, beam connectors and more.

Usually crafted from thick, galvanized steel, structural hardware pieces are built to have incredible strength and durability. They can bear heavy weight loads and feature shear strength levels above building industry standards. You’ll typically attach them with heavy-duty fasteners like thick, steel timber screws and bolts that create a tight hold on wood-to-wood attachments and also accommodate nearly any lumber size.

They’re the unsung heroes of outdoor projects - great structural hardware creates a safe structure that will stand the test of time. But lately, even the unsung heroes sing. Structural hardware can be a beautiful design choice in addition to its structural strength. At DecksDirect, we love helping customers find structural hardware that is strong but also stylish. You can call us anytime for recommendations on the best options for your project. In the meantime, let us break down the different kinds of structural hardware so you can start planning your next outdoor project.

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If you’re unfamiliar with any of the terminology, this diagram (from our informative Deck Framing Guide) may help you get a clearer picture of where these structural and beam hardware pieces attach to your structure:

The basic structure of your deck frame is held together by strong structural hardware.

Joist Hangers

Joist hangers are used to hold and attach your lumber joists in place against your structure's beams. Joists are typically 2x6 (in inches), 2x8, or 2x10, depending upon the size and design of your backyard pergola, pavilion or deck. Joist hangers are usually three-sided components that wrap around the bottom, left, and right sides of the roof joist.

Available in either a flush or tab installation design, Joist Hangers fasten to the ceiling joists and beams with tough Simpson Strong-Tie Connector Screws.

Beam Hangers

Beam hangers are similar to joist hangers in that they are used to fasten together joists, beams, and rafters in construction projects. Attached at a 90° angle, beam hangers are installed by structural fasteners or bolts through the pilot holes in the hanger.

Beam hangers are generally larger than joist hangers to accommodate the larger lumber size of beams for backyard decks or porches. Typical beam sizes include 2x6 (in inches), 2x8, 2x10, and 2x12 boards.

Truss Base Fans

Truss base fans, or Gable Plates, connect your wood beams together while also adding a decorative flourish.

Also commonly referred to as Gable Plates, truss base fans provide strong reinforcement for wood beam to wood brace pieces. These connection points generally take place at the front of the pergola or pavilion and also provide stunning architectural detail to the DIY structure.

Gable Plates are offered in several different angles and designs to fit any structure while adding a decorative piece to the space. Depending on the angle of your frame, choose from a 3 Point design, T-Strap design, an 8:12 angle, a 10:12 angle, or a 12:12 angle to perfect your pavilion, arbor, or pergola. Truss Accents are available to mount on your Truss roof plate and enhance the style of your shade structure.

Post Base Kits

Also referred to as Post Anchors, post bases attach posts to their foundation. These pieces of hardware can be used to mount wood deck posts to your deck surface, to anchor deck support posts to a concrete footing, or to create support posts for pavilions, pergolas, and arbors.

Post Base Kits are generally offered to fit either 4x4 (in inches) or 6x6 wood posts and feature an adjustable range of up to a half inch. All hardware for attachment of the Post Anchor or Post Base Kit to the wood deck post will usually be included with the piece itself.

When mounting a deck post on a wood or composite decking surface, DecksDirect recommends using a standard structural screw such as the GRK RSS. For post installation on concrete, brick or stone, we recommend using a specialty screw such as the Caliburn XL Concrete Screw. Choose a screw length of 4 inches or longer to properly anchor into the blocking or material below.

Rafter Clips

Also known as 90 Degree Angle Brackets, rafter clips are a highly versatile piece of structural hardware that can be used for essentially any construction project. Ideal for fastening rafter boards perpendicularly to ceiling beams and ridge boards, rafter clips can be used anywhere, vertically or horizontally.

These 90 Degree Brackets feature pre-drilled pilot holes, generally include structural screws for installation. They’re the perfect fastening choice for nearly any wood-to-wood connection. High Velocity Rafter Clips are also available for buildings and structures in highly windy climate regions. High Velocity Rafter Clips are hurricane zone tested and are approved for up to 120 mph.

Rafter Seams

Rafter seams are used to create seam connections for long rafter arcs in larger structures such as pergolas, gazebos, and pavilions. Rafter Seams allow the builder to create joints within curved or bowed rafters to dramatically increase the arc of your entire rafter piece. Build a one-of-a-kind unique arbor or greenhouse design right in your backyard with the innovative profile of Rafter Seams.

Post to Beam Brackets

Create a solid attachment between support posts and ceiling beams in your backyard structure with Post to Beam Connectors. Offered in several different profiles, Post to Beam Brackets can resemble either a straight-sided "S" design or a 3-sided post top with uprights for beam attachment.

Post to Beam Couplers are also available for attaching two beams to a single deck or pergola post. Post to Beam Couplers can accommodate both rough cut or smooth cut lumber to allow you to build your dream backyard design with whatever materials you have on hand.

A gorgeous outdoor pergola structure using several different types of hardware brackets to attach wood connections

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