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Old 04-27-2014, 06:16 AM   #16
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Remember this, too... if you tear it all out and put a new deck in place, and do it correctly.... then adding levels, etc. to your new deck will be easier... as a matter of fact, if you build it with the intention of adding on to it later you will make life easier now (less $$$ up front) and you will have a future addition to look forward to... now, you will have to put some thought into it, but I think you might want to consider this approach as a money saver... Good luck!


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Old 04-27-2014, 06:27 PM   #17
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When you build that lower-level, you are going to have to sure that you have adequate ventilation underneath the deck. Setting it directly on a concrete slab is not an acceptable practice.
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Old 04-28-2014, 02:17 PM   #18
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FYI, the "split" 4x4s aren't split. Generally this sort of cracking/splitting is called "checking" and does not affect structural integrity. Wood is prone to checking when the moisture content at the center of the board differs from the moisture content at the edges of the board. The closer to square a board's cross section is, the more it is prone to checking. For this reason a 1x8 will check less than a 2x4, and a 4x4 will check the most. Huge boards like 8x8s can check even more, but 4x4s are typically the largest square cross sections boards commonly encountered.

Checking looks ugly and it should be a consideration when deciding how to frame deck railings. 4x4s are generally necessary as structural support, but can be avoided above the plane of the decking surface with the correct choice of railing system.
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Old 04-29-2014, 06:18 PM   #19
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I am starting to piece together everything and I have been studying the Prescriptive Residential Wood Deck Construction Guide* ( - forgot what home work felt like! Obviously I want to do this to code (or better) so I guess I just need to piece it together phase by phase. I also had a shocking realization that building a deck could take 3-4 weeks depending on how the inspection schedule and work goes.

I am considering building a free standing deck that is attached to the house rather than relying on the house to provide a point of vertical load transference via a ledger board. I cannot see what the old deck is bolted to, and if it is like anything else in this house, it is probably wrong. I almost just want to remove it, seal any holes and build a free standing southern pine, pressure treated deck that I attach to the house.

I want to dive into the footings, but first I could use some help setting up the math and design. The "upper" deck will be 20' long by 13' wide and stand approximately 14"-22" off the ground (there is a slope to the yard. ) Then there will be a step down to the lower deck, and then a lower deck with a step down to the yard. In this post, I am only really asking about the "upper deck." I will deal with the lower deck once I have some more information and/or next year.

I also have to take into account how close my footings are to the house. There is a line in the book that states "Deck footings closer than 5'-0" to an existing exterior house wall must bear at the same elevation as the footing of the existing house foundation. For houses with basements, a cylindrical footing (caisson) is recommended to minimize required excavation at the basement wall. " I have a basement, so where do I put the footings closest to the house? Is this why I should attach it to the house instead of doing freestanding? The rest of my footings will need to go below the frost line, which in my area is 36". My deck will be 13 feet wide and 20.5 feet long along the house. What is different between a footing with a post and a caisson? I am having trouble piecing it all together. Is there a more modern solution I could use to assist with the footings/post?

Could someone help me with figuring out the math here? I could use help with joist spacing, joist span between beams if I use 2x10s (or 8s?) , beam span between notched posts , and footing placement. Only slightly overwhelming, but I guess that's what it is like learning a new skill.
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Old 04-30-2014, 08:51 AM   #20
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Here is what the township inspector said I need:

We need a site plan which you can prepare. This needs to be done so we can perform a zoning check for setbacks. Building coverage, etc. 2 copies of the construction plans showing footing size, beam size, spacing, joist size, handrails, etc. Ledger attachment detail, stair detail, etc.
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Old 05-04-2014, 08:22 PM   #21
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I drafted up the following plan based on the code book linked above. Overall, anyone see anything majorly wrong with this design, think I am within code? I am in Philadelphia so I can have 3" of snow sitting on my deck.

According to the code, if I am using 2x10 joists (16 o.c), they can span 14'-0" and have a 3'-6" overhang. Mine are spanning 11' from the ledger board to the center of my 2x8 beam and then they over hang another 2'-6". This totals 13'-6" which is less than the 14' maximum joist span so I think I am ok. Because of the way my fence is set up, I cannot connect the joists to the beam at their ends. Instead, the joists will all rest on the beams.

My deck is going to only be about 20" of the ground, so I am going to use a double 2x8 beam sitting on and bolted to notched 6x6 posts. It will overhang the posts by 9" and 12". I figured I would rather add another post and save the space by using a 2x8 instead of a 2x10 beam. Question: Do I need another beam somewhere in the middle of that 11' span? I don't believe I do, but could someone confirm that I don't need a second beam running down the middle of the deck?

Footing will be dug 36" or more, concrete with 6x6 posts on top and back filled.

Railings/steps, etc to come later. Thank you so much!

Thank you!

Last edited by OhmZoned; 05-04-2014 at 08:37 PM.
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Old 05-04-2014, 09:32 PM   #22
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My personal rule is to put the second beam in if the span is over 10', But most people won't, due to cost.

I do because I build to support my big personage (6'3", 320 lb. ). And I have seen too many fallen old decks.



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