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Doozer
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144 Posts
Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I am tearing off some severely rotten decks - so bad I can reach into the joists and grab whole fists full of wet mush. One is a second floor deck. I can obviously get to the outside of the rim joist, but the back side of it is not accessible. I would normally through bolt the ledger to the rim joist, but I cannot do that in this case.

Can anyone suggest a viable and legal alternative or method?

Thanks.
 

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I think there is a problem with this post... by the poster and the postee... I don't think the question is clear nor does the response by the second guy making any sense... :)
 

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If you’re asking “how to rebuild your second story deck without replacing the rotted framing on the house” then the answer is, NO you can’t do that.

Many times this type of damage can be repaired without tearing up the inside of the house assuming the damage is only rim deep.

Posting some pictures so we can see what you’re seeing would help.
 

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Doozer
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144 Posts
Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
I said nothing about rotten framing in the house. I am asking how to attach new ledger boards to the existing framing in the house without having to tear apart the interior. I'm sorry if I wasn't clear about this. I'm old and all this hard work leaves me really tired by the end of the day!

So far the deck ledgers I have pulled off were mostly sound, probably because they were beneath the eaves and protected from the rain. There are spots of rot just starting to develop in places where rotten joists were nailed to them. So far the wood behind the ledgers appears to be sound. I don't have all the ledgers off yet, so I can only hope that continues to be the case.

The new deck must be fire-resistant, so it will be tiled above and stucco below. Yes, of course I will build it with pressure treated wood and will ventilate it. The issue is that it will be heavier than a wood planked deck and will be rigid. Also, it is pretty high and I don't want it to fall down.

I am not confident in lag bolts alone for this, but I'm not sure what else to do. I can envision a two-pronged approach where some sort of giant toggle bolt is used to prevent the ledger from pulling away from the house and lag bolts for shear - to keep it from sliding downwards.
 

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Residential Designer
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Hi FatBear, this is the kind of deck project that really can not be designed by a question here and there to a forum over the internet.
Your project is certainly beyond the scope of prescriptive or conventional construction techniques.
You really do need an engineered design for this to be sure that it passes code and you can obtain permits from your local jurisdiction.
This will also save you money on the construction as it seems to me that you would not need to use pressure treated lumber if the floor joists are not in contact with the ground or are subject to weather.

Andy.
 

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Doozer
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144 Posts
Discussion Starter #7
lag bolts work just fine its long large spikes that have issues with holding. just make sure your using 1/2" x 5" minimum
Thank you. It occurred to me that the weight of the deck will cause it to "fall" towards the house, not away from it, so the pull-out issue is not as big a deal as I thought. But I'll probably use lots of lag bolts, just in case. :)
 

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Doozer
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144 Posts
Discussion Starter #8
Hi FatBear, this is the kind of deck project that really can not be designed by a question here and there to a forum over the internet.
Of course not. It is simply one detail that I needed help with.
Your project is certainly beyond the scope of prescriptive or conventional construction techniques.
You really do need an engineered design for this to be sure that it passes code and you can obtain permits from your local jurisdiction.
My best friend is a very experienced structural engineer and I have quite a bit of building experience. He helped me design the deck through phone calls and email questions and the occasional scan of a detail. Unfortunately, I did not think to ask about this and he is out of town for a couple of weeks just when I'm about to do the ledgers. He is not licensed in the state where I am currently living, so I am on my own. The county said I needed engineering, meaning a signature. I contacted an engineer who said it would cost about $12,000 to redraw and sign my plans. No, I did not misplace a zero. Before I could even gag he asked why am I getting engineering. When I said to get a building permit he asked why I was getting a building permit. My friend, the engineer had asked the same thing. "Because I always get one" is not an adequate answer for an engineer. Both recommended that I proceed without the permit and take lots of photos, then get an engineer to sign off if I am ever called on it. That is what I plan to do.

This will also save you money on the construction as it seems to me that you would not need to use pressure treated lumber if the floor joists are not in contact with the ground or are subject to weather.
Engineering will not save me money. The whole project will cost less than the $12K engineering fee even if I overbuild it to last another 1000 years.

I was planning to use PT because I will be enclosing all wood in the deck, with just a strip of fine mesh ventilation. This is to prevent wildfire incursion into the structure. I have no choice in that. But I am not confident in the ability of tarpaper and stucco to keep out water. And I am worried about weatherproofing the joint between the house and the deck, so the PT will not rot (as quickly, anyway) if there is a leak. Trapped moisture is a big cause of rot and catastrophic failures because it is hard to detect. My friend, the engineer, agrees. Are we wrong about this?
 

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You did not give your location, but it takes more than tar paper to prevent water damage in a ledger attached deck. You could need proper flashing under your primary moisture barrier and good sealing of all penetrations to assure preserving what has not deteriorated. - Most siding is really not waterproof. Obviously you will need proper fasteners connectors and flashing for PT wood, but using natural more moisture resistant wood would reduce those complications.

Photos would help to give others an idea of what you are up against in addition to the location, height and size of the deck.

Dick
 

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Doozer
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144 Posts
Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)
I did one small deck (cantilevered, so did not come across the subject of this current question) and what I did was this. I peeled back the stucco on the wall above the deck. I sheathed the top of the deck with 3/4" PT plywood - using correct screws. I painted Red Guard onto the plywood and well up the side of the wall, building up a thick coat. I tiled the deck and grouted with epoxy grout. I flashed the bottom of the stucco just above the tile and caulked the gap with a polyurethane caulk. Hopefully this is adequate.

I live in the land of the lawyers, so would prefer not to give my specific location, but it is generally warm to very hot here, with cool nights so there is a lot of humidity pumped in and out of the wood. I am on a hillside above native vegetation and so my decks are high and exposed wood is prone to burning if the brush burns. We do maintain a safe perimeter and keep the weeds out of our native habitat. Contrary to popular belief, pure Chaparral does not ignite easily, it's the weeds that get it going. We have seen a rain of burning embers up to 8" long fall into our brush during a major brush fire and just smolder out because we've got rid of all the weeds.

I'm not sure what to take photos of. It's just normal frame and stucco construction. I think my original question has been answered. If my structural engineer friend gets back and disagrees, I will probably still have access to the ledgers and can make the correction at that time. I'm old and don't move all that fast. Especially up high. If there are suggestions on the flashing/weatherproofing I am all ears ... uh, eyes.
 

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FatBear,

you may want to check out the "Prescriptive Residential Wood Deck Construction Guide" by the American Wood Council which is based upon the 2009 International Residential Code. This will provide you with the information and techniques needed to construct a compliant deck.

Hope this helps, Good Luck! :thumbsup:
 

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Doozer
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Discussion Starter #14 (Edited)
That is a great reference but it does not cover a deck that will have tile on top and stucco on the underside of the deck
No, it doesn't. And no official guidelines exist that I am aware of. The plans inspector I talked to sure never suggested any. They require decks to be fireproof but give no guidelines, forcing people to either pay for engineering or DIY and cross your fingers. Fortunately I do have an engineer helping me even if he can't sign the plans.

But it does have some good illustrations of the ledger board connections and hardware which I will study and then way overbuild. Thanks!
 

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If you don't trust lag bolts, then open the wall/ceiling on the inside of the house and bolt it up, as you initially planned. Patching drywall is not very difficult.


Both recommended that I proceed without the permit and take lots of photos, then get an engineer to sign off if I am ever called on it. That is what I plan to do.
:eek:

Yeah, but who has to live with the consequences? Surely not those engineers.
 

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Doozer
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Discussion Starter #16 (Edited)
Well, the local engineer who suggested it said that the worst that would happen is that they would make me get an engineer to sign it off, anyway. I am not worried about that or about a failure. As I said, I do have an engineer helping on this, he simply cannot sign off on it. I am drawing my plans thoroughly and carefully so I do not miss anything. I tend to overbuild, so the thing isn't going to fall down. Or I'll be dead before it does, anyway.

Here's the thing: the existing decks are extremely dangerous. Or were, anyway, they are mostly torn down now. Two of the joists were so rotten that when I removed the planking above them, they just fell to the ground in pieces. I cut one joist off and the joist hanger fell to the ground, leaving the joist still in place. THAT is worst case, not some mythical and mysterious building faux pas. The county does not care if I or my wife fall to our deaths, as long as we do it from a deck which passed the building inspection almost 30 years ago. I have different ideas about safety than they do.

To have the replacements engineered is impossible. I simply do not have the money. Period. To have them rebuilt by a contractor is impossible. I do not have that money, either. Period. There is this trend in America to want too much and to pay people to do everything for us and to just charge it. Call me old fashioned, but I do not spend money that I do not have and I do not sign up for payments which I cannot make. I have to replace these decks, I cannot afford to farm it out, so I am going to do it myself and they will be as good as or better than a contractor would do. Because that is how I do things.
 

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Doozer
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144 Posts
Discussion Starter #17
If you don't trust lag bolts, then open the wall/ceiling on the inside of the house and bolt it up, as you initially planned.
One of those ceilings is a weird sort of dropped arrangement which will require opening large enough holes to climb up into. And what a mess it will make, though I can certainly and skillfully replace the drywall. The other is actually the underside of a stuccoed overhang. I am really poor at stucco and hate it so I was hoping to avoid it. I just thought it was worth asking if anyone had an alternative. Everything else in the world has become so sophisticated that I thought maybe there would be a solution to this problem, too. But I guess not, so maybe I will end up doing as you suggest.
 

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Kind of late to the game... I've built a few 100% non-combustible decks, in fact we are working on one right now. The simplest ones are steel frame, aluminum decking, and steel railings. Nothing to burn there. The one we are currently doing is steel frame with paver stones and steel railings, the current fireproof deck is a replacement of a deck that was damaged in the "Waldo Canyon Fire" that burned 347 homes to the ground in Colorado Springs. We've been building decks with steel frames for years before this fire, in fact one of our decks (with composite decking, class B fire rating) was not damaged at all even though the fire came sweeping down into the backyard burning most of the tress/bushes in the yard.
 

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I just did an elevated concrete deck covered with pavers and parking area under. It was located within a special flood hazard velocity zone. many ways to accomplish a non-combustible deck.
 

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Doozer
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Discussion Starter #20 (Edited)
I've built a few 100% non-combustible decks, in fact we are working on one right now. The simplest ones are steel frame, aluminum decking, and steel railings. Nothing to burn there. The one we are currently doing is steel frame with paver stones and steel railings
The first one wouldn't work with the house. The second sounds interesting, but not exactly what we want. One really big consideration is access. I, or hired goons, am going to have to carry everything down a steep hill and then up to where it is used. No cranes, no lifts or hoists, no backing up to the site and unloading. Steel seems awfully heavy for my creaking old body. Am I wrong? Can you build a steel framed deck without machinery to lift the pieces into place?

Here's what I am planning:

Structure holding upper deck is a series of three arches on the front and one on each end. Inside of each arch is the diagonal which will be required to meet codes. Arches are stronger, but most people do not understand them, so I will have both. I was planning to frame them in PT and cover with stucco. They will go nicely with the house. The arches will enclose a lower deck which will be kind of a "loggia". At the end will be room for a pool, though we will never be able to afford one without winning the lottery.

Upper deck with be framed with 2x8 PT joists on 16" centers (just a five foot span plus one foot cantilever) decked with 3/4" PT plywood, sealed with copious amounts of Red Guard and covered with tile. Stucco siding on the house will be flashed onto the tile and the tile will be epoxy grouted. Underside of the deck will be covered with some sort of cement board - Hardi or something - and stuccoed, leaving no exposed wood.

Deck rails are to be cable railings because the only good think about this weird-assed house is the view. (The house is built like a whole bunch of boxes all piled haphazardly - I did not buy it, it came with the wife.)

I am very interested in suggestions for building the railings so they will meet code (200# lateral stress, etc.) and not leak when it rains. I welded up some for another deck but was not happy with how they turned out. I was told by a cable supplier that 1" steel posts would barely work. Turns out they barely don't work and will need to be reinforced. I will use larger steel on the next ones, so that should not be a problem. But attaching them was a PIB. I welded base plates onto them and bolted into the deck (it was L-shaped and supported on both ends, so meets the 200# rule.) I had to bed them carefully and fit tile around the bases. Not good. I am thinking of welding mounting plates to the sides of the posts and through-bolting to the rim joist of my deck. With enough bedding I think they can be waterproof. Do you think they will be strong enough if done that way?

Also, I used primer and paint on the first ones and had to re-work some rust spots after the first winter - no more after that, though. Is this normal for steel railings or is there a better way for an individual like me to do this? Is it practical to have them powder coated?

I might also pay my nephew to come over (from about 900 miles away) and weld up stainless steel railings. He is a pro welder. That would take care of the rust problem but might put me in the poor house!
 
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