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Old 07-13-2012, 11:41 AM   #1
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Please help me fix my deck builders mistakes


Hi all,

Hired a guy off of Kijiji because his price was right. Well now I know why.

I digress.

I have a 13x20 free standing deck. Or at least I will when it is done - had to basically take apart most of the work done (and still have more to do), won't get into all the details as to why here.

First off, he ended up laying the beams the opposite direction I would have expected (see picture below). And then he started hanging the joists parallel with the beams instead putting the hangers on the beams. I had actually asked that he build a frame on top of the beams.

So now, once the joists are hung correctly, I am going to have my decking running the width of the deck instead of the length. <sigh>

Also the deck is not square in its current build - it is not too bad, but could be better. I am not able to square 3 beams with each other due to the footings on the far left beam not being inline enough with each other.

This leads to my questions:

1. At this point I feel I have to build a frame on top of the beams with joists running perpendicular to the beams. I can make sure the frame is square and it will just have to sit a little unevenly on the non-square beams. Sound okay?

2. My 2x8s will not span the entire 20' length. So, how do I handle this? My beams are three 2x8s wide. Should I have each joist lay over 1.5 of the three 2x8s on the middle beam? Or should I run (as part of the frame) a single 2x8 down the length of the middle beams 2x8 and then use joist hangers to attach the joists? I am thinking the latter is probably the way to go.

3. Even though he said he would, he did not actually fasten the beams to the post anchors. I am using 6x6 anchors so the three 2x8s do not completely fill them. I am thinking I will shim and use 3 inch lag bolts to connect. Sound okay? Or do I even really need to worry about connecting? I would imagine the weight of the deck will keep them from shifting?

4. The deck is pretty level. However the back section from middle beam to the the right beam is a little out. Opinions on whether this is even worth worrying about? On a level, the bubble is a 1/4 to 1/2 outside the 'level' indicators when levelling between the middle and right beam.

Whew. Thanks a lot.


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Last edited by pheare; 07-13-2012 at 03:56 PM.
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Old 07-13-2012, 11:50 AM   #2
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Please help me fix my deck builders mistakes


You did not indicate where you are located, what code you are designing to (if you are designing the deck versus building it as you go), and what plans if any you have for the deck. I recommend you acquire a copy of the Prescriptive Deck Building Guide, your local building inspector may have a copy of the appropriate deck guide, which varies depending on which deck code you need to design to. If you are in a location that does not require a permit, or which does not have a code, I suggest you design to the 2009 International Residential Code, which is available on line. The code includes detailed diagrams and charts that pretty much explain everything you need to know about building a standard deck, including sizing of joists and beams, connection details, rail details, stair details, types of lumber allowed, installation of footings, and other critical details. You are way ahead of yourself thinking about how to repair the deck piecemeal, you need to develop a plan based on the appropriate code, take it to your building inspector for approval, then basically start over.

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Old 07-13-2012, 12:02 PM   #3
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It absolutely amazes me the things I see on this site... .. I sure hope you didn't pay him a dime.. PS. They look like 2x10's, possibly 2x12's to me.
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Old 07-13-2012, 12:26 PM   #4
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Guess I'm missing something.
Why where the ends of the rim joist not cut to length before installing?
Joist should have been run between the beams not parallel to them.
Why 13' and not 14' you should be able to buy 14' long decking boards and not have any waste if you ran them the short direction.

By building that deck so close to the ground there's not going to be any air flow under it, A sure way to have an on going mold issure and a shorter decking board life because it can not dry out.
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Old 07-13-2012, 12:36 PM   #5
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I am in Canada, Calgary, Alberta. Permit not required if deck is under 2 feet in height. I know the pilings are ~4 feet deep, at least. Definitely 2x8s. At this point I think I am stuck with the 3 beams the way the are. If by plans you mean drawings, I have none. If you mean what do I plan to use the deck for or add on afterwards: Will be used for hanging out on . No railings, might add some sort of pergola at some point.

CopperClad, other than the joists being hung the wrong way and what I mentioned (which cannot really be seen from the picture), what else amazes you about the site? I know there should be blocks between the joists as well - just as well he didn't do that as I would have had more to disassemble. And yes, unfortunately I paid him a good part of his labor cost. At the time I told him I'd 'finish it myself' he had already starting laying the decking (he wasn't staggering or spacing the boards). I figured laying the decking is no problem, so I paid him. I wasn't untill I started taking the decking off did I see and/or realize how badly it was constructed underneath.

Would just appreciate any thoughts/opinions on my questions. Not sure that looking a deck building book will help with all my questions. At least the Black and Decker one I got from Home Depot does not.
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Old 07-13-2012, 12:51 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joecaption View Post
Guess I'm missing something.
Why where the ends of the rim joist not cut to length before installing?
Joist should have been run between the beams not parallel to them.
Why 13' and not 14' you should be able to buy 14' long decking boards and not have any waste if you ran them the short direction.

By building that deck so close to the ground there's not going to be any air flow under it, A sure way to have an on going mold issure and a shorter decking board life because it can not dry out.
I can't comment on why he did what he did. I am trying to fix. I know the joists have been run incorrectly.

There is some height at the back of the deck and pretty much all along the sides. It is only the front board that is touch the ground and really underneath it is a bunch of the dirt that was dug up from holes. I can clear that out a bit. I am not very concerned about mould. I have a deck of similar height next to my house, there have been no issues after 9 years.

At time of me specifying 13x20 I figured he would build correctly and then the decking would have been running the length of the deck. Which actually is how he had it running due to running the joist incorrectly.

I think I am going to build the frame on top of the joists. I am going to use 2x6x12s for decking with a single 2x6 running the length of the deck (at front) to serve as a 'cap'. I am going to then use the rest of the existing width to incorporate a step up the frame I will be building.

I may replace the 2x8 at the front with 2x6 to keep it from touching the ground and give a bit of space for extra air flow.

Last edited by pheare; 07-13-2012 at 12:54 PM.
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Old 07-13-2012, 12:52 PM   #7
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When I said " things I see on this site" I meant this DIY site as a whole. As far as your construction site, the wood is pressure treated which is a plus. Every thing else is pretty much wrong. You're saying it's 13'x20'. It looks to me as the joist are 24'' OC, and by your photo that would make it atleast 24' wide.. And I know it's just a photo, and maybe I am crazy, they don't look like 2x8's to me.. How ANYONE can build anything without some kind of drawing is beyond me.. A sketch on a napkin would be better then digging some holes and start building a deck.. You say 1/4 to 1/2 out of the bubble?? That means your deck is INCHES out of level unless you have a 20' level you're using.. Wrong , wrong , wrong.. Take a break. Draw a picture. It's not that it can't be fixed. Anything can be fixed.
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Old 07-13-2012, 01:37 PM   #8
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Hey Pheare,

Definitely take a few moments to get a game plan in place now. The guys around here will be able to help.

Personallly I wouldn't put the joists on top of the beams in this situation because that is going to raise the level of the deck by at least 7.5 or 9.5 inches (depending on the joists you need to have 2X8 or 2X10 given the distance they need to span.) Because this may take part of your deck above the 2 foot tall where permits and railings may be required.

1) I would use the joist hangers and hang the joist between the beams. There will be some challenges due to your square issue.

2) So make sure the 2X's you are using are the correct size for the span, for the beam and the joists. You may not need a triple beam.

3) Are there posts sitting on the footings or is the beam sitting directly on the footing?
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Old 07-13-2012, 02:02 PM   #9
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It sounds like a classic condition of no code, permits or inspections required to protect you from yourself and from contractors once the problems become obvious, but too late.

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Old 07-13-2012, 02:11 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CopperClad View Post
When I said " things I see on this site" I meant this DIY site as a whole. As far as your construction site, the wood is pressure treated which is a plus. Every thing else is pretty much wrong. You're saying it's 13'x20'. It looks to me as the joist are 24'' OC, and by your photo that would make it atleast 24' wide.. And I know it's just a photo, and maybe I am crazy, they don't look like 2x8's to me.. How ANYONE can build anything without some kind of drawing is beyond me.. A sketch on a napkin would be better then digging some holes and start building a deck.. You say 1/4 to 1/2 out of the bubble?? That means your deck is INCHES out of level unless you have a 20' level you're using.. Wrong , wrong , wrong.. Take a break. Draw a picture. It's not that it can't be fixed. Anything can be fixed.
Ahh. By site, I thought you meant the picture of my 'work site'.

It is only out of level between the middle beam and right beam and only towards the back. Middle to left back is level. and entire front is pretty much level. Front to back level too.

That is a another thing, joist spacing ranges for 16" to about 19". Maybe more, I didn't measure every single one. Deck is 20 feet long.

I am not much of a drawer, below is my rough vision. Joists 16" on center. step would actually to entire length and would be where the decking would be now, without a frame.

My biggest unknown right now is question 2 above. And 3 and 4, I guess. lol.

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Old 07-13-2012, 02:21 PM   #11
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There ya go. You're an excellent drawer !! Put some numbers on there and you can call yourself an architect.. If only you would have done that for your thief to see prior to starting your project you might have been better off.. So are these "beams" just sitting on the piers? If they are making them level shouldn't be an issue. And I agree setting the joist on top of the beams(as long as you're under the 2') would be the best option to hide the out of square beams. Don't you have some kind of zoning guidelines that you have to adhere to in your area? Where I'm from you can't attach any structure that can't be moved within 3' of the property line.
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Old 07-13-2012, 02:24 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drtbk4ever View Post
Hey Pheare,

Definitely take a few moments to get a game plan in place now. The guys around here will be able to help.

Personallly I wouldn't put the joists on top of the beams in this situation because that is going to raise the level of the deck by at least 7.5 or 9.5 inches (depending on the joists you need to have 2X8 or 2X10 given the distance they need to span.) Because this may take part of your deck above the 2 foot tall where permits and railings may be required.

1) I would use the joist hangers and hang the joist between the beams. There will be some challenges due to your square issue.

2) So make sure the 2X's you are using are the correct size for the span, for the beam and the joists. You may not need a triple beam.

3) Are there posts sitting on the footings or is the beam sitting directly on the footing?
The deck would be well under 2 feet with the frame (2x8) and decking (2x6) on top of the beams. The out of square scares me not so much for the joists, but when laying the decking. I guess you can make sure you are laying the decking square and it will just end up overhanging the edge a bit.

I am thinking a frame on top of the beams will be cleaner and less hassle because of the square issue.

The beams are sitting directly on the footings in a 6x6 anchor. As noted above, the are not fastened to the anchors at all. Not sure if I should shim and fasten, or if the weight of the deck will be enough.
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Old 07-13-2012, 02:26 PM   #13
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What will the height of your deck be off of the ground at the back if you put the joists on top of the beams?

Beam (2X8), joists (2X8), and then decking (2X6), so 7.5 inches plus 7.5 inches plus 1.5 inches means the deck itself will be aobut 16.5 inches thick.

I guess as long as you have less than 7.5 inches to the bottom of your rim joist along the back you will be within the 2 feet.

Hopefully someone will chime in with a suggested beam and joist size given the spans. I'd personally use 2X10 for a 10 foot span, but that may be overkill.
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Last edited by drtbk4ever; 07-13-2012 at 02:33 PM.
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Old 07-13-2012, 02:32 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CopperClad View Post
There ya go. You're an excellent drawer !! Put some numbers on there and you can call yourself an architect.. If only you would have done that for your thief to see prior to starting your project you might have been better off.. So are these "beams" just sitting on the piers? If they are making them level shouldn't be an issue. And I agree setting the joist on top of the beams(as long as you're under the 2') would be the best option to hide the out of square beams. Don't you have some kind of zoning guidelines that you have to adhere to in your area? Where I'm from you can't attach any structure that can't be moved within 3' of the property line.

Yes, Just sitting on piers right now. Not sure if they need to be attached to the post anchors at some point or not.

Good point on should be easy to level in this instance. Any suggestions on what to use? I don't think I will have to raise the beam by much. not sure of a 6x6 section of wood would end up splitting if too thin.

I know this isn't the right answer, but I am not sure on the zoning...

I know that there are other decks in similar positions on my street, neighbourhood.
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Old 07-13-2012, 02:39 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drtbk4ever View Post
What will the height of your deck be off of the ground at the back if you put the joists on top of the beams?

Beam (2X8), joists (2X8), and then decking (2X6), so 7.5 inches plus 7.5 inches plus 1.5 inches means the deck itself will be aobut 16.5 inches thick.

I guess as long as you have less than 7.5 inches to the bottom of your rim joist along the back you will be within the 2 feet.

Hopefully someone will chime in with a suggested beam and joist size given the spans. I'd personally use 2X10 for a 10 foot span, but that may be overkill.
Maybe 'well under' was a bit of an exaggeration. Will be a 22" height.

span (inside edge middle beam to inside edge of outer beam) is about 8' 6"

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Last edited by pheare; 07-13-2012 at 02:41 PM.
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