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Rhizzlebop 05-15-2009 08:42 AM

Building a new deck......suggestions? thoughts?
So, I'm building a new deck at my house and wanted to share my plan and get suggestions, ideas, and comments. I posted over at gardenweb, but it seems like the whole forum there (while FULL of great posts) isn't getting hardly any new posts or replies AT ALL.

Per a couple suggestions, I'm breaking this into a few threads regarding the deck and the granite ideas so please see the other threads about the granite.

Additionally, I've gained access to scrap granite from a countertop installer and I have a few ideas. I'll share those ideas in a separate thread so please look for it and give all suggestions and comments you can.

Ok, so the deck. Due to my door elevation, and the grade behind the house, here is the plan:
At a sliding glass door off my sunroom, I've already built a 15'x10'ft section that runs the length of the sunroom that you see in the picture. The two corners away from the house, near those trees are "chamfered off" 3ft back from the corner both ways. That gives the angled sides to be 4'3" long.

From that, I'm stepping up (and continuing down beside the house, towards the fireplace 18ft, and out into the yard 18ft. It'll actually be 22ft long at 10 ft away from the house, since the raised section follows the contour of the "chamfer" on the smaller 15'x10' section. Make sense?

I'll try to attach a sketch if I can figure out how.

The section at the door only has a 4"x4" "joist" at the shallow end for a face board and that 4"x4" clears the ground by only 1.5". It gradually gets higher at the other end so that down there a 2x6 clears the ground by about 8".
The step up, larger section, will obviously be 7.5" higher, at its shallow end and gets some higher from there. Never high enough to need a hand rail so I'm only doing benches on the perimeter.

Off of the large section, on the far opposite corner from where the door is, I'm "chamfering" that off as well and there will be a gazebo pushed up against that corner such that you walk right into it off the deck there. It's the nice composite material and fully screened. It came with this house. The smaller section is sitting on about 20 concrete blocks with 4"x4" "posts". The tallest post there is only about 8inches tall or less. The large section will also use blocks and posts but additionally will have about 6 posts will be dug down and have concrete poured around em for extra stability. its a freestanding deck, not attached to the house.

I'm building the whole thing out of standard pressure treated pine lumber as this is not my dream house, and I'll prob be here less than 7 years.

I will be stain/sealing it so I'd love suggestions there. I've read LOTS of opinons on what to use. One Time Wood, TWP, Cabot, Sikken, Olympic Max, and others. I'm def leaning toward something semi transparent, or even less.."toned" as its called and something oil based that soaks in. Not a top coater. I'll buy at the big box store, or order online, if I just knew what to get. I need to decide because I hope to be ready to seal it by next week.

I love a rich light red/cedar color, but I've read to go as light as I can stand it, because it'll get darker over the years as more layers are added.
Also, the gazebo has a grey deck, and a light creme colored framing so it sort of needs to match it, but I do NOT want a grey deck.

UPDATE on Sealer: I'm leaning toward "One Time Wood" at this point because I'm finding positive comments from anyone who has used it and had it fr several years.

Suggestions, ideas, and thoughts welcome!!

Deck Site:

Sunroom is from the middle to the right in this pic.
Deck will go all the way across the back of that fireplace.

Gazebe I'm tying into the deck:

Deck Plan:

Rhizzlebop 05-15-2009 10:00 AM

Willie T didn't like my black background screen. this is what I use every day. Much easier on the eyes. Sorry if others don't like it.

Stillwerkin 05-15-2009 12:25 PM

That looks like a great conventional layout, and would likely add value to the property with the added outdoor living space for families and/or parties.
Nice idea. There's good "flow" through the living room/sunroom/deck/gazebo.

-Hopefully the yard extends far enough back on the left that it wouldn't cramp it. Might be zoning issue as well.
That looks like a big deck. Too big? Perhaps draw the outlines in marking paint and walk around the yard first. It shouldn't overpower.
Drainage first before any construction.

-Use natural or other stain(not red) with that cool yellow siding. Tough call on what color would blend with granite.
Mabye some yellow/white plants might blend it in? Purple or red to offset? This is where I start getting headaches lol.

-You could add a roof over the cook area, and add some small steps on the right(unless that space is better closed off). Can't see the yard/neighbors.

-With the gazebo, the florida room may be redundant.

When it's done, throw a steak on and some cold ones for me, eh:thumbup:

Rhizzlebop 05-15-2009 12:53 PM

Thanks man!! I appreciate the nice comments.
Question though, whatt do you mean "great conventional layout"? As opposed to great dynamic layout? Could it be better done a different way?

Ok, so, to your comments, my house sits directly in the back of a culdasac. So, its about 50 feet from the back face of my house to the rear fence. At the back of the property line, Its about 120 I'd say from the far back left corner to the far back right corner.
In summary, it's a good size back yard for a small neighborhood type lot, so I think its plenty big to handle this deck.

For drainage, I've already run 140 feet of french drain line from under both ends of this deck area and taken them away to a slope. Water was holding after a rain, for days, but its been much better since I did those.

As for stain, I'm leaning toward the One Time Wood stuff at $90.00 a gallon annd probably the natural tone. I like cedar, but I think it'll look too red as you said. I call that vinyl almond myself, maybe its in the yellow family?

Rhizzlebop 05-15-2009 12:54 PM

The right end is VERY shallow. As in, the face board at that end is a 4"x4" and its only 1.5" above the ground there. That is where I thought of doing some granite stepping stones as a pad or path from there. That end goes around toward the side, and you can go through a double gate to the front yard. If you walked directly off the deck to the right there, its probably about 35 feet to the fence that divides from the next neighbors yard.

Maybe tomoorow I can add a couple photos of the granite I have for the grill area counters.

Any opinion on whether you'd build it in like a cabinet with deck board faces, or make it like an overhanging counter that you could pull a bar stool up to??

Also, any opinion on whether you'd try to square the granite up like a counter, or install it with a rough "rock face"?

Lastly, yes, the florida room is redundant. Its well built, and currently has this nice blue carpet in it. I'm being sarcastic about the carpet. I'm gonna remove the carpet, put down some "nice" lenolium that actually looks like real tile with grout, and open up a huge wall section 9ftx6ft between the livingroom and the sunroom. Then I'm putting in 3 full doors but with folding hardware so they behave like a set of closet bi-fold doors, except with three instead of 2 doors, so tri-fold i guess it is. lol

I'm putting a pool table in that "florida" room, and full plantation blinds up to match the rest of the house. Tthis way it'll become more a part of the house instead of a sunroom.

Lastly, please look at my two creative granite use threads in the general discussion forum (they got moved) for details of that deck fireplace I want to build. Does that sound dangerous or just dumb?

thanks a bunch. Love the comments, and hopefully others will join in!!

Stillwerkin 05-15-2009 01:32 PM

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You have a good property layout to start out with, I'd kill for another 20 feet of yard and a 2 car.

When we bought our place, there were a couple huge (dirty)siberian elms growing up through the deck, no steps, just the left garden bed, and the yard was grass.
The concrete edgers are from a couple steps and a slab left by the seller. When there's lemons make lemonade.
This is our second spring in the new house, and are loving it! The arbor will have climing roses over it and will help divide the yard but here's plenty more planting/landscaping to do.
In retrospect though, the pavers are wrong and the layout too boxy/inefficient with three straight paths. Beginners mistakes. Might have done it differently if there was more time. We certainly won't be able to resell it to a big sports family with a large dog.

Rhizzlebop 05-15-2009 04:23 PM

Hey, thanks for the pic and the kind words. Your yard looks pretty deep. You've put quite a bit of effort into those beds and paths. I'll save that for a woman to plan out. If I get my deck and things going, i'll be happy for now. Well, technically the deck is going. The 15x10 section is basically finished and I'm getting to framing tomorrow on the large section. I'm laying all my decking such that the first two deck boards will go all the way around the contour of the deck, and tthen the whole middle left will just fill in. The fill in on the small section runs parallel to the house and the fillin on the larger section will run perpendicular to the house.

Another decision to be made is what to do about lighting, and do I want my benches to just be cool looking, or be able to raise the top for storage underneath. I saw one where they lit under the benches. Also could do some kind of fixtures sticking up from the ground. There is power at the gazebo now, which i'll dig and reroute to the new location, so it would be no big deal to add a couple branches to fixtures there.

Check out this guys work. Amazing!

Look at the bench in the picture, 3 up from the bottom right. Very cool design. He explained that its just a frame of pine, with a 2x4 ledge inside it, and then the decking filling in the middle. Seems doable and nice.

Tthe benches on row 6 from the top are amazing but look far too complicated.

Also, the tables, on the second column from the left, 9 rows down are pretty sweet, but that design would never support a slab of granite.

Maybe I should get a little rought iron table like you have and use one of my free granite slabs on it.

Hey, what state are you in?

Stillwerkin 05-15-2009 08:34 PM

That site has some beautiful work. Very inspirational, thx. Amazing what can be done with a little extra planning and work.
-The father has a craftsman-style home, and just putting a small block of wood inbetween every other square spindle on the stairs added an elegant touch.
-A neighbor with a modern house has a raised planter bed along the sidewalk of alternating 4x4s and 2x6s capped off with a 2x8, all stained. Grabs the eye immediately and pushes out the horizontal.

I'm guessing that company has some sort of high pressure steam press for those curved 2x sections, or an extensive clamping/bending system of steel pegs and pulleys.

I'm located in Mich.
We were also thinking at first of building some built-in raised planters, bench seats, with a screen and/or trellis system. However, the existing deck boards are ratty and the whole thing is supported, somehow, by four support posts scattered in the center.
The deck is only 12x13, and the yard extends 40feet beyond that, so whatever we build will have to be small to avoid the claustophobia effect.
Decisions, decisions. In the meantime it's functional and there are other projects.

Keep us updated. (sorry about the off-topic landscpaing)

Rhizzlebop 05-17-2009 02:57 PM

Here are a couple pictures of what we got done this weekend.

Note, the fully decked small platform was done over the previous two weekends.

This weekend was only for framing up the big 18x18 platform
Note, the area in the center of the pic above will be framed in. Tthe large deck will follow the contour of the smaller deck, back to the corner where the screw box is sitting, then go out towards the tree, and then 45 back into the 18' 2x board you see here.

...and here are those pieces of scrap granite I'm gonna use for a counter around my grill.

Namely, the grill will be flanked by the piece nearest in the picture and the piece to the far right.

Gary in WA 05-17-2009 05:04 PM

Wow. I'd stop there and get some help. You need proper piers, proper beams, post to beam connections, hangers on all joists, eliminate the flat ledger 2x4 under the center joists (collects water), proper soil drainage, remove vegetation, extend the downspout water, possibly safety glass issues, over-spanning of beam joists between bearing posts.

It looks like 2x8 and 2x10 joists. Did you notch the bottom of the 2x10's and rip them over the cantilever?
Be safe, G

Rhizzlebop 05-17-2009 05:40 PM

Thank you for your post but that wont be necessary. My father is helping, and esecially with all the bracing and wood sizes. There willl be more legs dropping to the ground, and several legs are down in concrete and I don't need any of those piers, or hangers and all that jazz. There will also be blocking between each joist. This thing will be rock solid until lonng after I'm gone from this house. An elephant could jump rope on this thing while a baby slept on the other side.

Willie T 05-17-2009 05:52 PM


Originally Posted by GBAR in WA (Post 274850)
Wow. I'd stop there and get some help. You need proper piers, proper beams, post to beam connections, hangers on all joists, eliminate the flat ledger 2x4 under the center joists (collects water), proper soil drainage, remove vegetation, extend the downspout water, possibly safety glass issues, over-spanning of beam joists between bearing posts.

It looks like 2x8 and 2x10 joists. Did you notch the bottom of the 2x10's and rip them over the cantilever?
Be safe, G

GBAR has a good eye, and caught a number of issues that need to be addressed. Overall, I like the design, but it DOES seem like you may have started a little too eagerly.

Several more from both a structural and design perspective could have been considered and incorporated (and still can) if you grab yourself one of the many deck building books (or timber/framing books) available.

Since GBAR brought most of this up, do yourself a favor and pick his brain on the structural and safety issues. I'm not primarily a deck contractor, so his words would be better heeded than mine. But I would suggest some construction design additions.

Rails, steps, lamp posts, fire pits and benches are a bummer to try and add on later or safely work into the overall plan. Considering their need and placement while still way down at the ground-level foundational stage is key. None of these things should be "add-ons", but rather incorporated into the actual foundational and structural framework.

A 6 x 6 base support narrowed to a 4 x 4, projecting on up through the deck level to post or railing height provides solid continuity that is tough to match with nailed or screwed on after thoughts. Bench backs work the same way. Make them part of the structure.

"Half lap" joints lock things together fantastically. And if you take the time to learn a handful of other timber joints, you can do some amazing construction that results in not only an attractive and sturdy deck, but a unique one too.

Rhizzlebop 05-17-2009 06:03 PM

Tthanks Willi for your kind thoughts. In some regards hes right about joist spacing, BECAUSE we are not finished yet. As far as hangers vs ledgers, nah, not buyin. I feel confident that my father has built more outdoor wood projects than most here have read or thought about and if he says its structurally sound, it's structuraly sound. Between his know-how, and my mechanical engineering background, strength, support, and such are not of concern.

gbar may be a greatt builder, and obviously saw things that we also saw, because we aren't done blocking and bracing yet. But it does make it a little more difficult to think I'm doing something wrong when he mentions drainage as an issue since he did not bother to read in another post here that I've already installed 140 feet of french drain line going out from under the deck towards both ends.

There are no railing posts because there wont be any railings, only perimeter benches.

As for "add-ons" I feel like I've thought it out fairly well and I don't want any fixed permanent heavy thing in the middle. Adding it off the back side near my fireplace made more sense to me.

That small covered section in the pic has about 40 support pts touching the ground. Its very sturdy with minimal spans. This will be the same when we finish.

Willie T 05-17-2009 07:10 PM

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Well, it is your deck. But I would feel as though I weren't doing you (and especially others reading this) right if I didn't back GBAR's warnings on exterior ledgers exposed to rain water. Yes, they WILL eventually rot if not either installed with a "standoff" gap for drainage, or built into a flashing made for the purpose (as shown in the picture).

EDIT: Some questions have been raised about this picture. Well, there are a couple of things wrong with this picture. I stole it from the University of California's website to show what a flashed ledger board would look like. My bad for not looking more carefully at the photo.

One, lagging a ledger is not bad IF (and this is a big IF) the ledger board is fully flashed down its face with long flashing that covers all the bolt heads. The flashing in the photo does not. And that is bad because water can get to the bolt heads, seeping into the wood. There are ways around this, but most people don't bother to employ those safeguards. Not cool.

Secondly, this ledger board is not high enough. A ledger like this should run upward much more than shown, high enough to be exactly flush with (or even an eighth of an inch above) the top surfaces of the deck boards, themselves. The reason for this is that leaves and junk will settle in behind the edges of the deck boards, being held and trapped there by the low ledger board. This is a moisture trap, and a breeding ground for mold which creates rot. It looks a little phony to leave that edge of flashing showing, but it's safer than hoping tightly fitted boards won't shrink enough over time to eventually provide that trench in which to trap debris.

I apologize for posting a photo with questionable construction practices displayed. But perhaps this can serve as a lesson on some of the things NOT to do. :thumbsup:

Aggie67 05-17-2009 07:25 PM

Let me guess. No permit pulled, no zoning application filled out.

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