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Old 07-12-2012, 09:04 AM   #1
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Miscellaneous deck questions


Ok, so finally getting around to having my deck built, but had a few questions for you guys. For an overview, I'm building a 16' deep (away from the house) x 19' wide (width of the house) x ~8' high deck, with stairs at the end of it. All PT wood.

#1- Is there a difference between solid vs. sawn (sp?) stringers in terms of one being "better" than the other? I've been reading and re-reading my local code for stairs, and I understand why sawn stringers can only span 7' horizontally (obviously they're cut) vs. solid being around 16', but is it just a cosmetic choice in terms of which to go with? It seems like solid stringers would be the obvious choice for strength and simplicity, as I'm looking to have one staircase come down ~8' veritcally to the ground.

#2- I understand that deck footings that bear the weight of the deck need to be under the frost level (to prevent heaving), but why is it that stair footings don't require the same depth? The code says that only 12" below grade is required? Would it be overkill to put these footings below the frost line?

#3- I currently have aluminum siding and will be installing a ledger board. I understand PT wood and aluminum is a big no-no. As long as I remove enough of the siding so that it doesn't contact the aluminum siding I should be a-ok, correct? Any precautions I should take? Also, is it best to use all stainless hardware for deck fasteners/etc vs. galvanized?

#4- For deck lighting, such as stairways, is there any brand/kind of lighting that people would recommend? It seems like there are so many options/types, and I'm not sure which are better than others.

#5- Originally the plan was to build the deck with just 3 footings (and a ledger board attached to the house), but I've opted to go w/ 6 total (3 away from the house and 3 close to the house), and still use a ledgerboard, as the deck is ~8' off the ground. I've just thought of a new wrinkle though, and perhaps it's worth trying to make the deck freestanding? If the 3 new posts are going to be within ~2' from the existing house, should I strongly consider not even using a ledgerboard and attaching the deck to the house (making it completely free standing)? Code says the overhang on the deck can be upto 1/4 of the joist span, and the joist will be at least 12', which means an overhang of 3' or less would be a-ok. My only concern is the racking of the deck being ~8' high. Is this not really a concern w/ proper bracing? Perhaps I should stop in the county office and run this by the building folks, but when I mentioned the word "free standing," the zoning guy said that's a dangerous word around here, and thought the ledger board would be a good idea..?

Finally, any tips/suggestions of course are always recommended. I plan on having the deck about 5" below the door opening for any possible ice or snow buildup (as I was recommended before). Thanks as always for all the help!

-Mike

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Old 07-12-2012, 09:32 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by NewHomeDIYGuy View Post
I'm building a 16' deep (away from the house) x 19' wide (width of the house) x ~8' high deck, with stairs at the end of it. All PT wood.



#2- I understand that deck footings that bear the weight of the deck need to be under the frost level (to prevent heaving), but why is it that stair footings don't require the same depth? The code says that only 12" below grade is required? Would it be overkill to put these footings below the frost line?
I always design my pier footings to extend below the frost line, even for the stairs.

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Originally Posted by NewHomeDIYGuy View Post
#3- I currently have aluminum siding and will be installing a ledger board. I understand PT wood and aluminum is a big no-no. As long as I remove enough of the siding so that it doesn't contact the aluminum siding I should be a-ok, correct? Any precautions I should take? Also, is it best to use all stainless hardware for deck fasteners/etc vs. galvanized?
When installing a ledger board, I usually remove all siding to the housewrap sheathing, through bolt the ledger board, install new stainless steel flashing above the ledger and then wrapping down over the top and on the outside of the ledger to protect the bolt penetrations, and then install the siding back down to the top of the ledger and call it a day.

Stainless steel is better, but more expensive. Galvanized will work as well.

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Originally Posted by NewHomeDIYGuy View Post
#4- For deck lighting, such as stairways, is there any brand/kind of lighting that people would recommend? It seems like there are so many options/types, and I'm not sure which are better than others.
I prefer the lighting that installs in the risers. They look like small vents which illuminate the stairs, but are protected from the elements and discreet.



Quote:
Originally Posted by NewHomeDIYGuy View Post
#5- Originally the plan was to build the deck with just 3 footings (and a ledger board attached to the house), but I've opted to go w/ 6 total (3 away from the house and 3 close to the house), and still use a ledgerboard, as the deck is ~8' off the ground. I've just thought of a new wrinkle though, and perhaps it's worth trying to make the deck freestanding? If the 3 new posts are going to be within ~2' from the existing house, should I strongly consider not even using a ledgerboard and attaching the deck to the house (making it completely free standing)? Code says the overhang on the deck can be upto 1/4 of the joist span, and the joist will be at least 12', which means an overhang of 3' or less would be a-ok. My only concern is the racking of the deck being ~8' high. Is this not really a concern w/ proper bracing? Perhaps I should stop in the county office and run this by the building folks, but when I mentioned the word "free standing," the zoning guy said that's a dangerous word around here, and thought the ledger board would be a good idea..?
Since the deck is 16' away from the house, I would plan on 8' joists. Set two rows of columns one mid span (about 8') and one full span (about 16') away from the house.

If you set them at the right distance and get your measurements right... no cutting with standard 8 joist lengths.

Use a ledger. It really helps to stiffen the deck up.

In order to prevent racking, make sure your connections at the foundation are solid and laterally brace between columns. An X bracing between columns will remove all racking.

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Old 07-12-2012, 09:46 AM   #3
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The only galvinized fastners you should be using is the bolts, never galvinized on a new pressure treated deck.
All fastners need to say ACQ apprived right on the box, if not there going to rust off.
I use ceramic coated deck screws, as mentioned SS is just to expencive, it's also soft so you get a lot of cam out on the screw heads.
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Old 07-12-2012, 09:57 AM   #4
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LED deck lighting is for some reason marked up 12342312231% it seems. Hit up a marine supply place and you can pick up the countersunk LED lights for a few bucks a piece. If you have a 12V transformer lying around you are golden.

I built mine free standing and the inspector LOVED it - he breathed a sigh of relief when he saw the missing ledger and my 6 massive piers.

You could always use the Maine Deck Bracket if you wanted some attachment to the house to avoid sway since you are 8' up.

Last edited by CoconutPete; 07-12-2012 at 09:59 AM.
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Old 07-12-2012, 10:00 AM   #5
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I would only ever recommend hot dipped galvanized components as acceptable in any project.

Galvanizing with electro platting and other methods does not provide a thick enough coating to protect the steel in my opinion.

So long as the connections are appropriately galvanized, which hot dipping almost always is ACQ approved, there shouldn't be any issues.
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Old 07-14-2012, 08:32 AM   #6
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Ok, thanks a lot for the recommendations guys! I guess ill stick with the ledger board as planned and ill see what to do about the lights.. Thx!
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Old 07-14-2012, 10:06 AM   #7
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something to remember, if 3 footing are going in about 2' off the house then the fooings need to be at the same depth as the existing house. typical excavation is about 5' more than the building, so chances are good the soil has been disturbed so you have to go down to the undisturbed depth.

Good luck!
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Old 07-25-2012, 05:12 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by GBrackins View Post
something to remember, if 3 footing are going in about 2' off the house then the fooings need to be at the same depth as the existing house. typical excavation is about 5' more than the building, so chances are good the soil has been disturbed so you have to go down to the undisturbed depth.

Good luck!
Interesting.. footings need to be at the same depth of the foundation? I was looking at the building code and it didn't mention this, all it says is that it must bear the same elevation as the house footing. Also, would there be any reason why footings wouldn't need to go down to the full frost line (it's 24" here)? The contractor is saying for some near the house it doesn't have to go the full 24" because it's hitting the house foundation (looks like gravel)..? Doesn't make sense to me, as I'd think they always would need to goto the frost depth to avoid heaving..?

Either way, county's coming out to inspect the holes tomorrow, if it needs to go deeper, they'll tell me.
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Old 07-25-2012, 05:54 PM   #9
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not seeing your home and how it was built my information may be off. Typically if you have a full foundation (about 6'-7') underground they will over dig the ground about 5' all around so that the foundation contractor will have room to set up their forms and place the concrete foundation walls. They then backfill with soil around the foundation. Typically they do not use structural backfill (compacted crushed stones) when backfilling, they use your typical soil.

Since the area around the foundation is not virgin undisturbed material it can be compressed when adding load to it as in the case of your deck. Please check out Figure 21 on page 14 on the "Prescriptive Residential Wooden Deck Construction Guide based upon the 2009 International Residential Code." http://www.awc.org/publications/DCA/DCA6/DCA6-09.pdf

The 3 footings you are planning on near the existing foundation should go to the same depth as the footing of your foundation as shown in Figure 21 so they are set on undisturbed soil and not merely backfilled soil. This has nothing to do with frost depth, this has to do with soil bearing capacity. Hope that makes sense.

Good luck!
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Old 07-25-2012, 06:00 PM   #10
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typically a free standing deck (such as you are are building) is not required to have footings down to the frost line. See the following from the International Residential Code (your building code may differ) Exception #3:

R403.1.4.1 Frost protection.
Except where otherwise protected from frost, foundation walls, piers and other permanent supports of buildings and structures shall be protected from frost by one or more of the following methods:

1. Extended below the frost line specified in Table R301.2.(1);

2. Constructing in accordance with Section R403.3;

3. Constructing in accordance with ASCE 32; or

4. Erected on solid rock.

Exceptions:

1. Protection of freestanding accessory structures with an area of 600 square feet (56 m2) or less, of light-frame construction, with an eave height of 10 feet (3048 mm) or less shall not be required.

2. Protection of freestanding accessory structures with an area of 400 square feet (37 m2) or less, of other than light-frame construction, with an eave height of 10 feet (3048 mm) or less shall not be required.

3. Decks not supported by a dwelling need not be provided with footings that extend below the frost line.

Footings shall not bear on frozen soil unless the frozen condition is permanent.

You would however want them down to soil that can properly bear the load of the deck.
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Old 07-25-2012, 06:01 PM   #11
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not seeing your home and how it was built my information may be off. Typically is you have a full foundation (about 6'-7') underground they will over dig the ground about 5' all around so that the foundation contractor will have room to set up their forms and place the concrete foundation walls. They then backfill with soil around the foundation. Typically they do not use structural backfill (compacted crushed stones) when backfilling, they use your typical soil.

Since the area around the foundation is not virgin undisturbed material it can be compressed when adding load to it as in the case of your deck. Please check out Figure 21 on page 14 on the "Prescriptive Residential Wooden Deck Construction Guide based upon the 2009 International Residential Code." http://www.awc.org/publications/DCA/DCA6/DCA6-09.pdf

The 3 footings you are planning on near the existing foundation should go to the same depth as the footing of your foundation as shown in Figure 21 so they are set on undisturbed soil and not merely backfilled soil. This has nothing to do with frost depth, this has to do with soil bearing capacity. Hope that makes sense.

Good luck!
Thanks a lot for that info.. ****.. I was afraid you were going to say that. The house is a townhouse, and I have limited space in the back. It looks like there might be a drainage system near the foundation under one of the holes as well (which poses a whole slew of other problems I'd guess. *sigh* I'll try and snap a cpl pictures and post them up. I wanted to put an extra set of footings close to the house so the deck is practically a free standing deck (ledger board just to prevent racking), but that might not be practical/doable at this point.
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Old 07-25-2012, 06:22 PM   #12
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Figure 2 on Page 4 gives you the cantilever allowed under the Guide for setting your posts near the existing dwelling.
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Old 07-25-2012, 06:23 PM   #13
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Sorry for the information, I did not write it .....

how deep is your basement (below the adjacent ground)?
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Old 07-25-2012, 06:30 PM   #14
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I missed reading the first time, if your deck is elevated please note Figure 22 on Page 14 for the requirement for lateral bracing. This would apply on all corners for a free standing deck.

Sorry ....
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Old 07-25-2012, 08:01 PM   #15
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Thanks for the info GBrackins. I got the joist/beam sizing all figured out, but seeing as how putting these posts may be a huge headache, I might just consider going back to the original design of only using 3 footings ~16' out from the house, and nix the posts by the house. We'll see, I'd love to put footings close to the house, but I'm not sure it's doable at this point.

Basically, the townhouse is 3 story townhouse, with the bottom level being a walk out in the back. So, the deck is on the "middle" level, which walks out to the back on the second story. Here are some pictures I snapped of two holes closest to the house. At first I couldn't understand why there was so much gravel, until I spotted the corrogated black pipe (which also explain the fabric to keep some of the dirt out). So, looks like a drainage system for the foundation, correct? *sigh* I imagine I don't wanna mess with that.. These holes are only about 16" deep, but seems like footings can't go here after making this find after the dig..

Ok, so I added a picture of the back so you see what I'm working with. Problem with just putting the footings further from the house is that you see I have a bumpout for the fireplace chimney. It's ~2' deep, so plan was to put the footings parallel to the house right next to the bumpout. Picture #2 shows the hole right next to the fireplace bumpout, and #1 is by the sliding glass door.

Any more thoughts/advice is greatly appreciated.
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