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  1. #1
    Administrator Cebby's Avatar
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    Building low height deck...

    I'm going to be building a low height deck in a short while here and was looking for a little guidance.

    The deck will be mere inches off the ground and will not have any railing system. I'm creating a trap door in the deck since I'll be going overtop of some seldom used steps that lead to my basement.

    Deck size: 10' x 23'

    The 23' dim will hang from the house from a lag screwed board. There is an existing concrete pad at the back door that I'll be going overtop of, so some of these joists will likely need to be shaved to the appropriate depth. Aside from the stairwell, the most this deck will stand off of the turf will be 6-8".

    With the shallow amount of space available, I will be excavating (by hand) to gain this 6-8" (ugh), so this deck won't be conventional in that there won't be a main "beam" under it where the top joist/deck structure would be cantilevered off of.

    This deck will be here for probably 2-4 years prior to being removed to make way for a planned addition and stone patio. I want it to be very sturdy, but also don't want it so beef that it will be really tough to remove.

    I'm thinking that I would dig 7 piers for support (would be 8, but one would be supported by the slab I'm covering). Since I'm in the frost zone, I have to dig plenty deep for the piers.

    I have an existing pergola that I built about 4 years ago that will be encompased in this design as well as a couple of sections of fence that will be added facing my neighbor.

    I have everything all worked out - my only question is for the pier supports, do I have to go to the labor of digging these deep holes, or is there a better/easier way. I don't want to have frost heaving messing up my deck, so those metal post spikes are out.

    Anyone have experience in this department?
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  2. #2
    Registered User Glenn's Avatar
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    Re: Building low height deck...

    I have no experience with this where it gets cold, but here in Florida I have built a few decks. What I did was to actually set 4X4 posts into the ground like a privacy fence. I put gravel in the hole to keep water off the base of the post and concreted them in. I know for a fact that one deck I built about 10 years ago in this fashion is still in use today.
    Glenn H. Shelton III
    My Garage Pics

  3. #3

    Re: Building low height deck...

    Cebby, you are making this to hard. A low deck, that isn't going to be permanent, doesn't really need piers or "support". Don't attach it to the house.
    Level your area and just build a floater deck right on the ground. It will sit there for years without a problem. I did this with a portion of my back deck that goes over the gas and water line egress to the house. It is only 10' x 10' but it has sat there since 1990 without moving an inch.
    My 8' x 10' back door "deck" is also loose. It just sits on the ground and a couple of cinder blocks. Has been that way for 10 years, hasn't moved. It is built in two sections with each one being 4' x 10'. It is built with 2 x 4 x 10' pressure treated lumber and the sections are light enough to be moveable if I have to do that.
    I would suggest doing the same thing with yours. Make it 4 or 5 separate sections that you can easily take up when the time comes...
    I can post pics if you want.
    Mark
    I am like a LavaLamp... Not very brite but fun to watch...

  4. #4
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    Re: Building low height deck...

    If it were ME doing it, I would NOT attach it to the house. Especially being that you will tear it down in a couple years, I would leave 1-2" space. You are inviting leaks. I would also buy solid 8"x8"x16" block, and place them in the yard under the corners and around the rim. X brace a few joists,and place it under there as well. Anywhere you anticipate higher loads. You won't see THAT much heave on a floating surface. Find a builders level and if you wanted to get anal about it, dig down a foot, fill with #2 stone, and hand tamp the snot out of it. Drop the 8x8x16 block on, level with the rest, and build your deck. Works for the shed I built for Dad 12 years ago. Still dead level.
    Jeff

    Scrap metal made....while you wait!

    The difference between a difficult problem and an easy problem, is having the answer!

  5. #5

    Re: Building low height deck...

    Cebby,
    Doesn't look like you will be building to code or for sale in the future...so that is not a worry. I would go with using 4 x 4 posts sited on the cement post carriers sold at Lowes, Home Depot, etc. Dig down and inch or so for the base and place the carrier in order to keep it from wandering later on. For four years they should be sufficient for you needs. For long term or structural needs other than a low deck I would recommend some other method, but this should fill your bill. Without a beam or two to cross-support your 23' length there is no way it will ever come near meeting code.

  6. #6
    Administrator Cebby's Avatar
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    Re: Building low height deck...

    Great info guys! I was plannning to use only 2x6 due to the height constraints. Will this be OK?

    Let me go clean up some mess and take a pic of where this thing is going...
    My vehicle sites: 1993 Toyota 4Runner & 2000 Jeep Grand Cherokee

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  7. #7

    Re: Building low height deck...

    Cebby,
    On the deck on the rear of my house, I used a 2" square tube beam welded to 2" uprights buried and cemented to below frostline. Doesn't take up much room and more than establishes the needed structural bracing.

  8. #8
    Administrator Cebby's Avatar
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    Re: Building low height deck...

    No ripping on my shanty (or that sweet zero setback lot line...). It's a good location.

    From the rear


    Yard Side:




    Steps I'll be hiding (note fine block work and "safety" fence to keep folks from falling into the stairwell done by the previous owner):


    (Nosy) neighbor side:




    Note a few things:

    I'm not working with much in the way of height.
    See how the lot pitches toward the house.

    Here's what I drew up a couple of days ago:


    The circles represent piers. If I can forego that, that would be heaven...
    My vehicle sites: 1993 Toyota 4Runner & 2000 Jeep Grand Cherokee

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  9. #9
    Registered User Glenn's Avatar
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    Re: Building low height deck...

    I like your house.

    Anyway, you can forego the piers, but I would at least put it on cynder blocks as suggested by Jeff, but that is still a bit of digging.

    I still think the 4X4s would work.
    Glenn H. Shelton III
    My Garage Pics

  10. #10
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    Re: Building low height deck...

    You would use the blocks ONLY where you would normally place the piers. So you take a 8"x16" piece of sod off + whatever elevation you need to correct.
    (and gravel, if you wanted to go the extra mile.)



    Removeable section suggestion: (I knew you'd ask)

    Frame out the area for the stairs, leaving your gaping hole.
    Install joist hangers in line with the joists on the other side of the framing.
    Since it will be 3'+ wide, you will not want the board being much longer than 3'. So make a series of 3'x3' sections , that slide into the joist hangers. Any bigger, you won't be able to lift it out easy.

    Worked awesome for my access point to the sunken hot tub, when I had it outside. I'd take a pic, but when I put the tub inside the gazebo, I redecked that aera.
    Jeff

    Scrap metal made....while you wait!

    The difference between a difficult problem and an easy problem, is having the answer!

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