What's the lowest you can build a deck off the ground?

Reply

  #1  
Old 06-21-05, 06:08 AM
I
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: Vestal, NY
Posts: 284
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
What's the lowest you can build a deck off the ground?

Hello,

I'd like to know what is the lowest height off the ground you can build a deck? My in-laws deck only has 2 steps down to the ground. Is it possible to have just 1 step? I'd like mine to be as low as possible. I want it low because I have 2 basement windows that I don't want covered up by the deck - at least I want to keep them uncovered as much as possible to let as much light in as I can. Thanks for the help.

Mark
 
Sponsored Links
  #2  
Old 06-21-05, 06:03 PM
J
Member
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 107
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
low no good with alternative decking

if you are using a composite, vinyl or anything other than pressure treated wood, you are asking for trouble by not having enough air flow under the deck. the same might also be true for some of the exotic hardwoods. temperatures can cause boards to move. It's not just the possibility of butt joints buckling. there is a municipal walkway near me, using a hollow composite and it is level with the ground. the boards just popped up, pulling the screws through it.

i believe that pressure treated can be installed low, but keep in mind the dampness near the ground may cause the wood to rot faster. deck boards are rated for "above ground" not "ground contact"
 
  #3  
Old 06-22-05, 06:14 AM
I
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: Vestal, NY
Posts: 284
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
I'm not wanting to put the deck at ground level. I just want it as low as possible. If I could get it so there was only 1 step down to the ground, that would make the deck itself about 7" off the ground. Would this be OK if I used composite decking boards (the underneath structure would be built from pressure treated lumber).
 
  #4  
Old 06-22-05, 11:33 AM
R
Member
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: USA
Posts: 21
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
I think low decks are possible, especially if you don't enclose around the sides, for ventilation, and follow material gapping recommendations.

I have two low decks at my place (pre-existing). The challenge as I see it is framing something that low. Where does one find plans for a low-deck frame?

One of ours is really low and looks like joists were laid directly on top of roofing shingles (which were spread on the ground presumably as a weed barrier and rot preventative). The other deck is also unusual in that the joists are metal of some sort and are also laid directly on the ground.

I want to re-do one, and want to build a proper frame. One thought I have is to use Dek Blocks and sink each of them into the ground the appropriate depth. Is that something that would work? It looks like each block could be sunk several inches.
 
  #5  
Old 06-22-05, 11:54 AM
I
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: Vestal, NY
Posts: 284
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
The "plan" I have going in my head is to bury some 6"x6" posts in the ground down below the frost line, leaving 8" sticking out of the ground. Then bolt 2"x8" to the 6"x6", then nail 2"x6" joists on top of the 2"x8", the fasten the decking to the 2"x6". I figure this would make the finished deck 14" above grade, which would need two steps to the ground. I'm not sure if it could be built any lower not.
 
  #6  
Old 06-22-05, 12:27 PM
rdhamm's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: USA
Posts: 174
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
In my opinion...

Any wood that touches dirt will rot. It's just a matter of time. If you are going to be in your house a long time, don't put any wood directly in contact with dirt. My 2 cents...
 
  #7  
Old 06-22-05, 10:14 PM
L
Member
Join Date: Mar 2000
Location: Arlington, WA
Posts: 9,238
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
Indiana627,

No, no, no, no, NO!!!!

Don't bury wood in the ground. That's what concrete is for!!

Good plan to get below the frost line, but fill the holes with stuff that can't rot. And make the holes wider at the bottom than they are at the top. To do otherwise, the frost will just push the concrete up. Best plan is to dig a hole 18" or 20" square that is 6" to 12" below your frost line, fill the bottom foot or 1-1/2' with concrete, put a sonotube in the hole, filling the sonotube with concrete and backfilling with dirt outside as you bring it up. Frost CANNOT heave that footing!!

Low level decks are more expensive. If I have 2' to work with, I can post up to a beam (or girder) and lay my joists on top of that. That means I can space the footings 6' apart or more. Eliminate the beam (or girder), and now I have to put a footing under EVERY joist! That's a lot of holes, and a lot of concrete.
 
  #8  
Old 06-23-05, 05:37 AM
I
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: Vestal, NY
Posts: 284
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
When I said bury 6"x6" posts in the ground, I meant in fairly larges hole filled with concrete. I am not a novice and helped build a few barns growing up on a farm. At the same time I am not an expert, but I do know more than your average homeowner I think.

So how far should the bottom of my 2"x8" be off the ground in order to prevent rot? 2"? 4"? Other?
 
  #9  
Old 06-23-05, 06:56 AM
J
Member
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 455
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
Take a look at www.deckplans.com

You can save a lot of work and expense. By setting the piers into the ground you can get it pretty low, but make sure that the joists are at least a couple of inches above the ground.
 
  #10  
Old 06-23-05, 08:45 PM
L
Member
Join Date: Mar 2000
Location: Arlington, WA
Posts: 9,238
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
No, you don't bury wood in dirt -- it'll rot. And you don't embed wood in concrete -- it'll rot and then you can't replace it.

You dig a hole, fill it with concrete, set a Simpson base (a CB44, PB44, etc.) that is above grade, then set you wood post in the base.
 
  #11  
Old 06-23-05, 08:53 PM
A
Andrew R.
Visiting Guest
Posts: n/a
I agree with lefty. I also don't see how you can keep a good drainage plane under this deck unless you poured a slab with a pitch to allow water to run out. What happens when the soils erode against the house and you need to tear the deck up to regrade? The environment you are creating with a deck hat close to earth is not good, bugs, snakes, mold, fungus, critters, moisture to name a few.
 
  #12  
Old 06-24-05, 12:10 PM
R
Member
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: USA
Posts: 21
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
What about the idea of using Dek Blocks dug into the ground? Would this be possible? I'm considering doing that for framing my low deck.
 
  #13  
Old 06-24-05, 03:59 PM
J
Member
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 455
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
Hi Robb,

Yes, but as I said above you need to make sure that there are at least 2"-3" of clearance from the joists to the ground. www.deckplans.com is their website and there are lots of questions and answers in their forums.
 
  #14  
Old 06-25-05, 09:41 AM
Hellrazor's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: Eastern USA
Posts: 1,038
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
Dek blocks stink too. Just because someone tells you it works to sell the product does not mean they are right. Otherwise i will sell you my deck on the moon and the landing pad next to it.

You need to put footers in and to the requirements for the frost line in your area. Lefty pretty much has said what needs to be said regarding this. Do not cement or just sitck the posts into the ground. Either way it will rot.
 
  #15  
Old 06-29-05, 01:15 PM
C
Cosber
Visiting Guest
Posts: n/a
Dek blocks

Just curious Hellrazor, why do you say Dek blocks stink? I'm planning on using them for my deck. I live on the southern "left" coast so frost isn't an issue.
 
  #16  
Old 06-29-05, 02:48 PM
Hellrazor's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: Eastern USA
Posts: 1,038
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
I am from the snow area... setting dek blocks on grade is just asking for problems. Your problem would be whether they are compliant in earthquake areas. Check with your local codes department.
 
  #17  
Old 06-29-05, 03:13 PM
L
Member
Join Date: Mar 2000
Location: Arlington, WA
Posts: 9,238
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
I'm in the center of the 'left' coast. Dek Blocks aren't code approved around here. Earthquakes is one issue. Dek Blocks are designed to be a "floating" system -- set in dirt holes and no concrete. That doesn't work well in clay soil in an area that gets 40" of rain a year or more. And why use them anyway? At the local big orange box they cost a bit over $5 ea. A regular pier block is about $2 and a 60# sack of redi-mix is another $2. I pour a 16" sq., 12" deep footing at each corner of the deck with an 8" concrete pillar on top of that, set a PB44 or CB44 in the wet pillar, then use pier blocks under the rest of the deck, set in a 16" sq., 12" deep footing.

If the deck is more than 30" above grade at any point, it requires a permit. Your local bldg. dept. won't allow Dek Blocks. Why change the system just because the deck is less than 30" above grade?
 
Reply

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Thread Tools
Search this Thread
 
Ask a Question
Question Title:
Description: