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Old 01-03-2012, 02:42 PM   #1
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Building a deck, attached or freestanding?


I'm looking to build a deck ~9' off the ground, that's roughly 19'wide and 16' deep/long. Would you choose a freestanding deck or an attached deck (with a ledgerboard)? This is for a townhouse. The reasoning for not using a ledgerboard is really just a concern over time that the flashing might leak and water could get into the exterior wall. Is this not really a huge concern as long as it's flashed properly and I keep up with any regular maintenance?

My concern over many years is if the wood degrads/flashing wears and I develop a leak. Am I simply overworrying (and I should just go w/ an attached design) or is a freestanding deck really the best way to do it? I'm located in Virginia, where we get all 4 seasons. Thanks!

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Old 01-03-2012, 02:46 PM   #2
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Building a deck, attached or freestanding?


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Originally Posted by NewHomeDIYGuy View Post
I'm looking to build a deck ~9' off the ground... 19'wide and 16' deep/long.
Would you choose a freestanding deck or an attached deck?
Is this a trick question?

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The reasoning for not using a ledgerboard...
Your reasons aside... the local inspector is the one to ask if it would be allowed.

hth

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Old 01-03-2012, 02:50 PM   #3
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Building a deck, attached or freestanding?


A free standing deck will need diagonal braces on all four sides to keep it from racking, and you won't be able to access it from your house without a gang-planck. Usually the point of building a deck at that height is so you can walk to it from the second floor of your house. That's usually done by turning a window into a door. If the ledger is installed properly with flashing, it shouldn't be a problem.
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Old 01-03-2012, 02:52 PM   #4
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Building a deck, attached or freestanding?


Free standing when ever possible. Use 6 X 6's not 4 X 4's.
You do have a permit and any associations involved permission?
make sure the deck comes out at least 4" below any door openings.
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Old 01-03-2012, 02:54 PM   #5
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Building a deck, attached or freestanding?


Tarheelterp,

Nope, wasn't a trick question.. I'm weighing all the different factors (cost, longevity, etc), and trying to decide what's worth it. One contractor I got for an estimate gave me an estimate for a freestanding, and said he much preferred that, but I have limited first hand knowledge with decks (minus all the reading I've been doing recently ).

It is "legal" for me to use a ledgerboard for my county, and all/the majority of my neighbors use ledgerboards, but I'm considering the extra cost/space for the posts if it's really "worth it." Thanks for your input!
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Old 01-03-2012, 02:59 PM   #6
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Building a deck, attached or freestanding?


abracaboom,

I have an existing sliding glass door that is blocked off on the outside that goes out to the second level. It's a townhouse, and many neighbors have decks attached via ledger boards (I don't have any deck currently). So with a freestanding deck you can't build it right next to the house and walk out to it..?

joecaption,

I'm doing everything "properly" which is why I'm asking here. I got approval for the size/dimensions/etc. of the deck from the HOA, and I've already read about all the specs/requirements for building the deck in my county, like pulling the permit, and inspections. I really just wanted opinions from folks on the ledgerboard vs. freestanding option. I'm just unsure on which is the way to go as some people say ledgerboard is good, and some say to do freestanding.. The vast majority of townhouses in my neighborhood are all attached (in fact I don't think I've seen a freestanding one), but if they're really not the best choice, why are they so prevalent?

Last edited by NewHomeDIYGuy; 01-03-2012 at 03:02 PM.
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Old 01-03-2012, 03:03 PM   #7
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Building a deck, attached or freestanding?


I've made a ton of money having to go back and redo walls, bottom plates, siding, mud sills from decks attached to the side of houses done wrong.
To the post that claims you would need a gang plank my guess is he's never seen a free standing deck.
Looks the same as any other deck except there's just another set of post set near the foundation and the framing is cantileavered near but not touching the house. The deck boards need to be held back about 1/2 from the siding for drainage.
http://www.decks.com/deckbuilding/Free_Standing_Decks

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Old 01-03-2012, 03:18 PM   #8
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Building a deck, attached or freestanding?


attached to the house with proper flashing will be your best bet looks better and like you said I have been doing contracting 30 yrs from pa to nc ..never seen any freestanding....all attached to ledgerboard...just my thougth for what its worth....ben
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Old 01-03-2012, 03:21 PM   #9
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Building a deck, attached or freestanding?


Quote:
Originally Posted by joecaption View Post
To the post that claims you would need a gang plank my guess is he's never seen a free standing deck.
I just liked the idea of a gang plank. I have built two of those myself. Not worth it, in my opinion, if the ledger is installed properly.
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Old 01-03-2012, 03:33 PM   #10
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Building a deck, attached or freestanding?


At least 50% of my work has been remodeling and repair work.
At least twice a year were having to go behind a builder that did an attached deck years ago and there was massive damage to the home.
Done right there fine, done wrong and it's going to not be pretty.
Never once have we had to work on a home with a free standing one.
If for some reason I have to do an attached deck I use PVC lumber as a spacer so the ledger is not tight up againt the house to allow water to drain, not just lay there rotting out the top of the ledger and the side of the house.
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Old 01-03-2012, 03:36 PM   #11
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Building a deck, attached or freestanding?


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Originally Posted by joecaption View Post
At least 50% of my work has been remodeling and repair work.
At least twice a year were having to go behind a builder that did an attached deck years ago and there was massive damage to the home.
Done right there fine, done wrong and it's going to not be pretty.
Never once have we had to work on a home with a free standing one.
If for some reason I have to do an attached deck I use PVC lumber as a spacer so the ledger is not tight up againt the house to allow water to drain, not just lay there rotting out the top of the ledger and the side of the house.
thats what I am saying done right...oh I get it done right there fine....yes fine for a long time....
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Old 01-03-2012, 04:26 PM   #12
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Building a deck, attached or freestanding?


I built mine free standing and I love the way it came out. It sits about 6" below the door because of snow buildup etc. Of course my deck is 30" off the ground so no cross bracing needed for me.

No need for a gang plank - whatever the heck that is. Is that like in the pirate days when they used to "walk the plank"?
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Old 01-04-2012, 08:24 AM   #13
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Building a deck, attached or freestanding?


If a deck isn't attached to the house, you may not need a permit for it. Just a thought.
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Old 01-04-2012, 09:13 AM   #14
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Building a deck, attached or freestanding?


As mentioned by others, check the local codes. In the town I live in, you're not allowed to attach the deck to the house.
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Old 01-05-2012, 09:21 PM   #15
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Building a deck, attached or freestanding?


I'll chime in with DONE PROPERLY there is nothing wrong with a ledger attachment. Windows can leak if not installed properly but people continue to put them in... Lets think a little bit about what we are saying instead of just parroting what we've heard in the past.

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