Author Topic: Building a deck  (Read 467 times)

Jack

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Building a deck
« on: July 01, 2018, 06:56:02 PM »
I plan on building a deck over the 4th weekend (taking few days off after the 4th) and will post my progress.
I can build a house from ground up but never build a deck, easy enough but I have few questions (Kerry feel free to jump in here :D).

The plan is to build a 19' by 16' deck next to one section of the house but I will not attach the deck to the house for the following reasons.
It will only be 14" off the ground (want to build 2 levels each being 7" high - height of one step)
I live in the northeast with the frost line being 4' below - I don't want to go that deep.

1st question - I have a pole digger and can go down maybe 30" to 36" below grade, I plan on filling the bottom 6" of the hole with concrete and utilizing poles for the main support. Am I okay with posts in dirt in the northeast? The way it's done here is by using sonotubes and coming up above grade (no wood in contact with earth).

2nd question - do you all recommend pressure treated wood or should I go with composite? I like that composite is maintenance free but it is a lot more expensive and I'm not sure how it will be under the sun.





Regards, Jack

roadking77

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Re: Building a deck
« Reply #1 on: July 01, 2018, 07:14:28 PM »
Treated post in the dirt is fine. There is a higher grade of treatment for below grade (don't know the spec off hand) that a good lumber yard may have in stock. The regular treated stuff is good though. You will probably get a lot of conflicting answers but the post in the ground will last quite a while.

As far as composites, they are nice and yes they are expensive. There are many brands so its hard to be specific but they will fade in the sun over time. They also tend to get very hot to walk on in the summer sun. Treated wood will have a high moisture content new from the store so it will never look any better than the day you install it. When we use it we put the boards almost tight, they will shrink leaving a gap. One advantage of using wood is when it starts to look old in a couple of years you can put a deck coating on it. One of the bad things about wood, is that you need to put a deck coating on it after a couple of years!!

With composite there are options for hidden fasteners as well which make it nice. I don't have a deck at my house but if I did it would probably be composite.

Good Luck.
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firebirdparts

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Re: Building a deck
« Reply #2 on: July 02, 2018, 11:07:51 AM »
I really don't like Trex myself.  It's too weak.  It might do better supported on 12 inch centers.
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nas t eh

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Re: Building a deck
« Reply #3 on: July 02, 2018, 01:20:59 PM »
If you put the deck on posts but don’t go deep enough,(below the frost line and if your house has a basement or crawl space under it that has a foundation that was back filled and will still be settling reven 10+ years later) Then the deck will heave in the winter. Not attaching it to the house will solve one of the issues of the movement but not the other. The winter frost heaving won’t be even and some of the top boards will be loosened or split or if composite that is screwed in place tear loose.

Since your deck is low to the ground I would either put it on proper deep enough pilings/posts or put it on those concrete deck base type of pads that sit on the surface. Then just build the framing and joists well enough that the whole thing stays together when it moves a little during the winter.
With composite boards 12” on center joists is the maximum spacing unless you like a wavy looking and spongey feeling walking surface.
« Last Edit: July 02, 2018, 01:25:36 PM by nas t eh »
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Jack

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Re: Building a deck
« Reply #4 on: July 02, 2018, 03:13:07 PM »
Thanks for the comments. The biggest issue for me is digging many deep holes by a hand post digger without making a big mess (and that's why I did not want to attach it to the house).

Not comfortable using these...

https://www.homedepot.com/p/Headwaters-12-in-x-8-in-x-12-in-Concrete-Patio-Pier-Block-PIERBLOCK/204230166




Regards, Jack

Re: Building a deck
« Reply #4 on: July 02, 2018, 03:13:07 PM »

roadking77

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Re: Building a deck
« Reply #5 on: July 02, 2018, 04:33:50 PM »
I would not use those type of setting blocks on grade for a permanent deck. Have you checked out a one man power auger? My local rental yard has one that is pretty cheap for the day. Its not as easy as one mounted to a skid loader, but it sure beats doing it the old fashioned way. Of course it all depends on your soil conditions. We have a clay soil in MD and its not too bad digging a hole. My brother in Canada put a deck on his house last summer and spent a couple of months just digging through the ledge to get to depth.
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79GoldnTan

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Re: Building a deck
« Reply #6 on: July 02, 2018, 06:36:39 PM »
Yes I would attach to house, flashed properly, and post in the ground below frost, if useing composite decking 12 inch centers. Certenteed makes a nice deck. Augers here are useless unless on a big machine. I have a 32 hp tractor with a backhoe I use, have broken teeth off bucket.
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nas t eh

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Re: Building a deck
« Reply #7 on: July 02, 2018, 10:15:28 PM »

Not comfortable using these...

https://www.homedepot.com/p/Headwaters-12-in-x-8-in-x-12-in-Concrete-Patio-Pier-Block-PIERBLOCK/204230166

Then rent the power auger, get a buddy to help for a morning and rent the two man one, they are pretty cheap to rent and will make short work of the job. Just need an extension so you can go 6-7 ft down and get below the 4' frost line.
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Jack

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Re: Building a deck
« Reply #8 on: July 04, 2018, 03:43:48 PM »
Here is the plan for the deck, I think it should work nicely.



The plan is to build 2 separate sections/frames and bolt them together.

The thing that I don't like is that I currently have the decking to be perpendicular to the house (utilizing standard 16' decking) as the deck needs to be 16' by 19'.

I'm planning on building the two frames separately then bolting and resting on the 4" by 6" PT lumber.




Regards, Jack

Jack

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Re: Building a deck
« Reply #9 on: July 04, 2018, 03:46:49 PM »
And here is a section and parts list.



I looked into renting a single person augur from Home Depot it goes down 4' (with the extension) and does 8" hole.




Regards, Jack

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Re: Building a deck
« Reply #10 on: July 05, 2018, 06:25:54 AM »
I can't comment on the footings, but I can on the decking boards.  Definitely go 12" centers regardless of the type you use.  I have composite boards on my 8'x36' front porch with hidden fastners. 

Pros - The looked real nice when installed. 
Cons - the first time we pressure washed it the faux wood grain look was gone and left a brushed concrete feel on the boards.  After a few years the boards became very brittle.  When the footing on the porch settled, some of the boards cracked. 

I don't plan on using them in the future.

roadking77

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Re: Building a deck
« Reply #11 on: July 05, 2018, 07:23:08 AM »
The problem with composite decking is that there are so many different manufacturers and types of products. I think one of the originals was Trex, which was basically sawdust and glue. I had the chance recently to look at a deck I did with those about 20 years ago. They were pretty bad looking but still there. Not sure you could do anything to spruce them up other than replacement. By contrast I put treated on my front porch during the same time frame, and a good pressure washing and they look fine. Some of them are completely plastic, which I have used also. I have done these in a darker colour that fades pretty quick in the sun, they also get really hot. They all look great when new though. Heres one we did with the "plastic synthetic".

2018-07-05_09-19-40 by Kerry Grubb, on Flick
2018-07-05_09-19-28 by Kerry Grubb, on Flickr
2018-07-05_09-20-18 by Kerry Grubb, on Flickr
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roadking77

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Re: Building a deck
« Reply #12 on: July 05, 2018, 07:25:27 AM »
Referring to the second pic above, if you look closely at the side of the house where the grill is, you can see the deck is quite a bit lighter in colour. This section was done a couple of years ago, we did the large deck last summer.
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Mac

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Re: Building a deck
« Reply #13 on: July 06, 2018, 05:33:23 PM »
Jack I've built a few decks in my time. First if you don't have to don't attach to the house. If you do it restricts the movement the deck has to have in the northeast. Also it can cause rotting issues if not properly flashed, and even if you use pressure treated lumber. I always like useing sonotubes depending on the size of the deck will depend on the size of the sonotubes. I think from what I see from you plans your using 2x6 for the floor joists if you go 16" on center there will be flexing and bounce to the deck but you should be fine.
I always like building a deck that floats (not attached to house) joists sitting on two girts made from two 2x8 that are attached to the concrete sonotubes.
Composite is nice but $$$, preashure treated is nice and will last for years just seal it at least every two years.
I just pressure washed my 18 year old deck and plan on sealing it tomorrow it looks almost as good as the day I built it.
Good luck Jack, put on some good music and enjoy building the deck, it's rewarding. Don't forget to drink plenty of water these temperatures and humidity we're having you can dehydrated quick.
« Last Edit: July 06, 2018, 05:36:55 PM by Mac »
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Jack

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Re: Building a deck
« Reply #14 on: July 06, 2018, 09:11:13 PM »
Thanks for the recommendations. I see we have a lot in common as it seems many enjoy building. The plan was to have it done by Sunday but it's been very hot the past few days and today we had thunderstorms but it finally cooled down some. The plan was to rent a auger and do the footings today but this was the result of the thunderstorms.



Yesterday I had cleared the area and marked the location of the footings but now have to dig up my chainsaw and clear this first.




Regards, Jack

Re: Building a deck
« Reply #14 on: July 06, 2018, 09:11:13 PM »



Jack

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Re: Building a deck
« Reply #15 on: July 06, 2018, 09:20:06 PM »
I also made a trip to tax free Nashua NH and got all supplies (about $1500 so the tax savings makes a difference)

The footings will be 4' deep exactly (already got 8" by 4' sanatubes and the auger Home Depot has only goes down 45").

All pressure treated wood (cheaper and better)

Going with 2x6 on 16" centers as I'm only spanning 6'.

I will not attach to the house but the reason that I've beefed up the foundation is that I might build a pergola in the future.




Regards, Jack

Mac

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Re: Building a deck
« Reply #16 on: July 07, 2018, 04:50:03 PM »
Sounds like a good plan Jack. Not surprised about the tree, there are so many weak trees and limbs waiting to come down all due from the winter storms we had. Looks like good weather this week low humidity. Get out the tools, turn on some good music and go for it.

Stained my deck today looks awesome. I was lucky Lowes was having a sale on Olympic stain, I got a $40 gallon for only $16 I bought three gallons. Had the stain tinted a light brown. This stain was amazing sealed the deck and made the deck a uniform color.
« Last Edit: July 07, 2018, 04:59:01 PM by Mac »
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roadking77

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Re: Building a deck
« Reply #17 on: July 09, 2018, 07:14:42 AM »
That sounds pretty typical for me Jack. When I have a well thought out plan to get things done around the house something always derails it. Hope you got to work on the deck this weekend, if your weather was like ours you should've been able to get the thing finished! LOL.
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79nocturne

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Re: Building a deck
« Reply #18 on: July 11, 2018, 09:31:57 PM »
Not sure if you started yet, but I would recommend footings with sono tubes.  The footer should be wider in diameter than the sono tube, and the footing should sit below the frost line.  Here in Minnesota it's 5ft. This design will prevent heaving, because the wider footing is essentially locked in place by the weight of the soil pushing down on the footer.

Here is a personal example:
I built my deck...10ft high with a walkout lower level.  I added a stamped concrete patio below.  The patio was poured around the footings since it extends past the size of the deck.  The patio floats, and in the winter will heave up about 2 to 3 inches.  The footings never move.  In the spring, the patio settles down back level with the footings.   Been this way since 2009.

It's up to you, but my opinion is that if you get the foundation right, you'll have little worry about.  The time invested in a project like this and the expense makes it worth not doing it twice.
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roadking77

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Re: Building a deck
« Reply #19 on: July 12, 2018, 07:12:23 AM »
5' sounds crazy to me for a frost line. Its 32" where I am on the east coast. My neighbor that just moved here from Michigan is putting in a deck and I told him the depth and he thought I was crazy! His was deeper in MI also, but I dont think he said 5'.
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Ford5of5

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Re: Building a deck
« Reply #20 on: July 18, 2018, 01:31:14 PM »
Maybe a little late but here's my 2 cents. MA building codes can be a bit stringent and can change from town to town. Decks in MA don't need a permit if under a certain height, I think 30" but check that to be sure. My code book is 10 years old and I'm not buying another! In Boston especially you need a ledger lagged into the house's sill plate and/or non-cantilevered wall unless you go way overkill on the supports and even then it's up to the inspector/variance board. There are other special rules about doors and stairs. Considering the height you're planning I think you can do whatever you want.

IMO, those concrete pier blocks should not be used for your application. I personally don't believe they're strong enough or that they disperse load to a large enough area. I use them when building temporary structures for customers. They actually work out well but not for a large deck. I used them for at least 2 temporary wheel chair ramps we've built. They did stay in place and never sank into the dirt but we also had favorable ground conditions and 2 blocks every 4'. On a 3rd permanent ramp we sunk sono tubes and used big feet footing bases; this is also standard procedure when we got a deck that's gonna be inspected. To throw a huge wrench into the gears, the deck, which I didn't build, this ramp attached to is approximately 16 x 20 and is mounted on a combination of sono tubes and those concrete pier blocks, it's quite stable and over 25 years old. Otherwise, we dig down 4' throw in some stone and fill the tube; the exception to this is very large decks and porches. I've seen old decks built on concrete blocks and also large stones, they seem to work just fine but it's not something that I would do.

We've been recommending to our customers to use vinyl trim and rails with PT 5/4 x 6 wood decking. I love the the composit decking but the heat in the sun and slipperiness in the rain I don't like. Like other's have said, it needs to be mounted 12" on center and does fade after a few years. Hidden fasteners are your friend when it comes to composit decking.

How did you make out with the auger? We've tried a few and they always seemed to be more work than a post-hole digger. The south shore's soil by itself is great for the auger but all the stones in the soil make an auger all but useless.

roadking77

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Re: Building a deck
« Reply #21 on: July 19, 2018, 07:08:02 AM »
Ford, we even have a town in our county that has its own deck code. We have to use through bolts for the ledger tied to the house. Lags are not acceptable. Inspector has to be able to see both ends to verify. Also, no longer allowed to notch a 4 x 4 post at the bottom where it bolts to the deck structure. Their reason it weakens the board and if someone leans on the rail it will snap off. I have never put that much of a notch in one, but I guess there are some idiots that would. I have seen some pretty bad deck jobs!
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Jack

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Re: Building a deck
« Reply #22 on: July 19, 2018, 07:26:03 AM »
Massachusetts and especially my town is very stringent when it comes to codes and permits. MA Building Code requires 48" footing whereas I looked up the frostline to only be 35". Most towns don't require a permit for a floating deck that is under 30". Regardless I will install 4' footing (got 4' 8" sonotubes) and not attach to the house (attaching to the house would save me few footings but not a big deal). I've already wasted $85 renting an auger so decided that I should buy one instead, now waiting for it to be delivered. I figured for the price of renting it twice I would own it and don't have to run to HD. Anyone local is welcome to borrow it once I done with this project. 




Regards, Jack

roadking77

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Re: Building a deck
« Reply #23 on: July 19, 2018, 07:32:13 AM »
I have always used that same equation with tools large or small. A lot of times its cheaper to buy than rent.  Everything from tampers to skid loaders, material handlers, and boom lifts.
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Re: Building a deck
« Reply #23 on: July 19, 2018, 07:32:13 AM »
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