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                               Neal Franson Los Angeles Builder, Specializing in Custom Decks, Wood Patio Covers,  Hill-side decks, Trellises, Gazeboes, Pavilions, Solar Patio Covers, wooden gates and fences...

How to Build an attached Patio Cover:

For a rectangular patio structure attached to the house.

0)      PERMITS: Ensure all required permits are obtained and in hand.

1)      LOGISTICS: Find the location of the project and determine the logistics of the area. Is there sufficient work space and access? Where are you going to store the lumber and your tools? Where are you going to cut and prepare the lumber? When is trash day? When do the gardeners come? Etc. Move any furniture or potted plants out of the working area so that it can be easily cleaned as needed.


a.       Determine the physical area of the structure, where it attaches to the house and ensure there are no problems with windows, light fixtures, trees or other features that may interfere with the construction, or work out a handling. First figure out what is there, then determine how you are going to handle it. Take up any problems with anyone concerned once you have figured the best solution.

b.      Determine the finish elevation of the footings, if there is a concrete pad, or if they are going to be surrounded by soil they should be raised usually 8". If there are any problwms, get this sorted out right away.

c.       Check the elevation of any significant features, like steps, retaining walls, etc.

d.      If there is an existing structure to be demolished, take any significant measurements, like the height of each post, any angles that may be hard to duplicate or any elevations that may be lost when the structure is gone.

3)      SKETCH:

a.    Make a working sketch with a plan view, preferably to scale showing the structure all joists and beams, if one is not provided.

b.      Draw a cross section of the structure - not to scale.

5)      MATERIALS: Make a new materials list to ensure sufficient amounts and lengths of the needed lumber. Order the materials that are to be delivered. Pick up others as needed and deliver to the job site.

6)      DEMOLITION: Clear out the work area and do any demolition needed of any old structures or any plants that need to be cut back, taken out or relocated.

7)      FOOTINGS: If a rebuild, check the condition of the existing footings or the placement of the new footings. Does the concrete have to be cut? Re-furbish the existing footings or dig and pour new footings (12”x12”x18” for a 4x4 post, or 16’x16”x24” for a 6x6) ensuring the column bases (CB 44, CB 46 or CB 66) are 1” above the existing slab, or 8” above the soil. NOTE: If permitted, once the holes are dug, call for a footing inspection and show the inspector the holes before you pour the concrete.

9)      LEDGER BOARD: A ledger board is a pressure treated board attaching a new structure to an existing structure. The ledger board is usually attached to an existing structure two 3/8” x 6”lag bolts 16” on center (o. c.) into each stud. Usually the back of the ledger board is water-sealed with ASPHALT EMULSION (Henry’s 107 water sealer). From this elevation shoot a level with a laser level to each footing to determine the length of each post at each footing, which would be that length minus the width of the beam and joist (for a laser level also minus the usually ¾” that the laser beam is above the structural elevation). This can be done by setting the post in place, (also doing marking the bracket holes for step 11c) or by holding up a tape to meet the bead of the laser beam.

10)  LUMBER DELIVERY: When the lumber is delivered, ensure everything is there, or work out any problems. Move the lumber from the street sorting it as you go so that the pieces are available in the order that they are available. Large lumber may be cut to approximate size for ease of moving. A hand truck is used to move large beams, and they should be evaluated as to which side is the top by looking down it to see which way it is bent, or which side has a tendency to warp. It should be placed so that gravity and the weight of the deck would tend to straighten it out, making it “pre-stressed”. This top should be clearly labeled “TOP”. On the top should also be labeled where the middle of the board is with an “M” so it is known where the center of gravity is for purposes of balancing it. The lumber should be moved back as soon as possible for safety and so as to minimize the inconvenience. The Lumber should be laid out so that it can dry as much as possible in the sun, especially if it is to be stained, and it should also be easily covered with a tarp in case of rain. Once the rain has stopped the tarp should be removed as soon as possible.

11)  POSTS:   Posts are the primary vertical structural component holding the structure at the desired elevation.

a.       Cut each post, treat the ends with JASCO TERMIN-8 (NOTE: all cuts in pressure treated lumber and all butted ends of any large lumber are treated with Jasco Termin-8, which is a highly toxic wood preservative, and we referred to it as “the nasty stuff”) and/or asphalt emulsion on the bottom.

b.      Stain or prime the post if it is required, before installation. It can be stained on the ends and where it will be covered up by brackets, and the stained or primed and painted in place, but the stain may be uneven where you lap over the dried stain. It is not a problem with primer and it is best to prime and paint all the ends, but at least prime them or use a wood preservative.

c.       To install, set the post in the metal bracket and with it fairly well leveled up, mark where the holes are to be drilled. Take the post out and drill all the holes half way from both sides, including the holes needed for the beam attachment, which can be put on and then install the post with the bolts and level it up. The holes should be 1/8" larger in diameter than the bolts being used.

d.      Do this with all the posts and then look across the tops of them to ensure there is a straight line for the beams to sit on. Make any corrections needed by re-cutting or fit a treated block on the top so that it is straight or very slightly crowned.

12)  BEAMS: Beams are the main horizontal structural component carrying the weight of everything above it.

a.       Cut the beams to fit with the posts level, cutting any end corbels as needed, sealing the butt ends with Jasco Termin-8 and stain or prime and paint the rest if needed before installation.

b.      Install the beam with the arched side up, which should be noted as “TOP” from step 11, and is referred to as pre-stressing. Install by the stepped brace method, by a “High Lift” device or if it is not very far, just lifting it into place. Shoot it in place temporarily with a nail gun.

c.       When the beam is in place, firm them up with bolts and connectors, usually Simpson HL 33s, HL 35s or a column cap (ie CC44). Also put a top strap across any connections and caulk the connections on the top and sides, but not the bottom.

13)  KNEE BRACES are usually the same post material, 4x4 or 6x6 lumber and cut at a 45 degree angle on each end and is used for lateral stability, but can be custom cut to produce an aesthetic effect of wider material, like cutting 4x10s and leaving the required 4x4 width. Cross bracing is needed for lateral stability – primarily in the event of an earthquake or other catastrophic event. They are bolted on the bottom though the post with “through bolts” and lagged into the beam at the top. The drawing below shows a lag bolt, which isn't as good. The holes are usually countersunk with a 1 3/8” bit and filled with a plug of 1 3/8” dowel material.

14)  JOISTS:  Joists are the top structural level of the structure and are what the lattice is attached to. They are on top of and perpendicular to the beams. NOTE: Each layer of the structure is perpendicular to the last.

a.    JOIST HANGERS are metal brackets usually used to attach the joists to the ledger board at 16” o. c. (on center) and are shot on with galvanized nails by an air gun, always using safety glasses. The joist hangers are best held in place by using a small section of the joist board resting inside the joist hanger so the exact placement can be perceived and then nailed.

b.      The joists are selected to be pre-stressed so that they are installed with the arched side is up. Cut the any corbelled ends, cut the beam to length and treat the butt ends with Jasco Termin-8.

c.    Fit the joist so that the top is flush to the ledger board. If it isn’t flush, shim it up with a wedge or scrap piece of pressure treated board, or notch the bottom if too high and then nail into place. The end joist should be exactly 90 degrees square by checking with a framing square or a laser square and nailed to the beam. 

d.      Space the joists along the beam with the same spacing as the ledger board and toe-nail (nail at an angle from the side of the board) into the beam with two nails on each side or with L brackets or hurricane clips, Simpson H1 or H2.5. Square up the last joist - the square-ness of the structure can be cross checked by measuring the distance between the two opposite corners, which should be equal.

e. If  it is to have a fascia, which is a board across the front of the joists, cutoff the ends of the joists by first measuring the same length on both end joists, snapping a chalk line and drawing a square cut line with a speed square, cutting with a skill saw and treating the cut ends with Jasco Termin-8. A custom scroll cut called a corbel cut can be done on the ends if there is no fascia board in the design,

f.  If using a fascia, nail on end joist or fascia board ensuring corners are square. If the edge of the structure is too high to hold the fascia in place, a block can be screwed to the bottom of one of the middle joists to balance it until the first nails are in.

15)  LATTICE is the primary shade producing component of the structure usually using, 2x2s in a parallel pattern or a cris-cross pattern and the amount of shade is regulated by the spacing of the lattice. NOTE: The most important part of the spacing is that it is exactly parallel above the beam, as it will leave a crooked shadow if not parallel at this point. For parallel lattice, make a couple of spacers out of 2x2 and start from the wall and line edge where you want it, space it evenly and nail it in. Temporarily nail in another on the outside and put a string between them that you line up the ends to. Use your spacer and the string to line up your next lattice piece and nail it in. Continue on checking the straightness every few boards and once you starting to approach the beam, measure to the beam to ensure you are going to be parallel to the beam. Do this by sighting down from the lattice to the edge of the beam. This is more important than going by your spacer, as the shadows will show any mistakes. If you are a bit off, make corrections a few boards back and sight down from the lattice to the beam to ensure the lattice closest to the beam are parallel. When all are nailed, caulk all the nail holes. Also caulk gap between the top of the ledger beam and the wall.

16)  TOUCH UP: Do any touch up painting and caulking so there is a uniform finish.  

17)  CLEAN-UP: The area should be totally cleaned up, hosed down, all refuse removed and any messes or mistakes corrected.

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