Deck vs patio

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Old 08-02-07, 05:49 PM
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Question Deck vs patio

I need some type of outside "flooring" outside my backdoor because my dog is bringing in too much mud and I could use the space for a table & grille.
Can anyone help me find out how deep the footings have to go if it is a "flat"
wooden patio deck versus an elevated deck with railings? I'm not even sure what I'm referring to is up to code? However, the yard is SO WET that I can't consider pouring a concrete patio as come Winter it is likely to crack the 1st year...not to mention it would be hard to get a cement mixer back there as it's a fenced in yard with a small gate, etc...
Any ideas? Also, does something like this need to be directly connected to the house structure or can it exist on its own- floating so to speak?
I currently have wide temporary steps from the door down to the ground- I realize these will have to attach somehow to ?both the house and maybe directly to the deck as well...?
The kid I use for repairwork quoted me $3,800 for a regular 12x12 pressure treated wood deck with railings- but my brother said that was rather high... any idea what is reasonable to pay for what I'm looking for?
I also considered just putting down gravel but not sure that will be the best permanent solution either.
Thanks,
deb
 
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Old 08-02-07, 07:05 PM
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Deck vs patio

A PT low deck over a wet yard will not be permanent either. You need good ventilation for it to last 10 years in your climate.
 
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Old 08-02-07, 08:05 PM
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spikedog4,

I can't see the area where this deck or slab needs to be. Maybe you could post some pictures on a site like photobucket, yahoo photos, or similar and post the URL here?

How high is the door threshold above grade? That will be the biggest determining factor in deciding between a deck or a slab.

As far as cost, a slab will be a WHOLE LOT cheaper than a deck. The obsticles you mentioned (lack of access) as far as pouring a slab aren't really an obsticle. You would simply pump the concrete to the site.

If you opt for a deck, be careful about hiring a handyman to build it. Of course he'll be cheaper that a licensed contractor. He doesn't have the cost of liability insurance, worker's comp. on his helpers, and all the other overhead involved with being "legal". BUT, if one of his helpers amputates a thumb or finger with a Skilsaw, WHO'S GONNA PAY???
 
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Old 08-05-07, 03:49 AM
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I wonder why you have so much water all of the time. You might have a drainage problem that could be corrected rather than trying to fix the mud problem with a deck or slab. [you could solve the mud problem by removing the dog though ] Seek the advice of a Landscape Contractor, they deal with this all of the time and might have a few suggestions.

Concrete is a wonderful building material.
Water is usually not a problem, if done right it can be put down under water if needed, think bridge foundations, and the wet/cold can be handled in most cases too.

One of the universal truths is that ALL CONCRETE CRACKS but you can add rebar to keep the pieces from moving and causing heaving or chipping. Also, concrete is now being decorated, formed, stained and patterned so that you wouldn't notice any of the smaller cracks.

One thing you might consider are cobble stones, or their modern equivalent. I am not sure if they are popular in NE, but out west they are popular. Cost about the same as concrete, more labor and less expensive material.

PT or wood composite material are still wood and need to be kept either submerged so that no oxygen/bacteria can reach it or allowed to dry out so that bacteria can not get a start. Solid plastic, wood look-alike, obviously doesn't have a water problem.

As for the footing depth, I think that the bottom of exterior footings have to extend below the frost line to prevent heaving. Check with the local building department since the frost line varies by, and sometimes within, community. There are also minimum size and depth requirements that have to be met depending on the size of the deck.

Free standing decks are an option, but again, you need to build on solid ground. If, as you say, if you are trying to build on soil that is wet all of the time you might have problems there too since any foundation you build will sink.
 
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Old 08-05-07, 07:01 PM
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Unhappy Exactly...

The condition of the yard and the cost are the 2 important factors... and don't think I don't worry any time I hire a handyman that he might hurt himself (I'm a nurse) but I'm also out of work with a really bad back so I can't usually afford a skilled professional (except for probably any electrician or plumber) but I do see your point (and I used to date a Landscape Contractor with all the employee carrying costs, etc...) almost wasn't worth his hiring legal workers sometimes he said- and a lot of them would blow off work!
Anyways, I don't think anyone will be able to help with the yard's wetness as it doesn't seem to be a grade issue- it's more the water table or soil type- doesn't drain- as if they built this neighborhood in an old swamp?
I see many yards with huge areas of sitting water or ICE in winter after storms. So, it is the whole area... and it's tough to get good grass to grow as well- moss does well but the dog's gonna make mud since he's big and he runs a path in the grass until it's dead... I have pine shavings out there now that they make for hamster cages from Petco out there now to absorb the water.
It's ugly and messy too but it's not mud!
The code for DECKS & additions in MA I believe is 4' footings/foundations which is why I was hoping for a free standing wooden "palate" so to speak- it might be cheaper...
Perhaps concete IS the way to go and use those new patterns they can make as you mentioned to help conceal cracks.
I just thought for sure it'd heave and crack- but I can keep on top of that in the Spring if the repair stuff really works. Our driveways take a beating.
Did you say a concrete patio would cost more than a PT wood area? I don't need anything really large- maybe 8x10 or even 8x8. Good to know they can use a hose or whatever to reach the back so that won't be an obstacle.
I'm still concerned though that after a good rain- it'd flood the concrete slab- we can get up to 3-4" of water (it usually receeds within 24-36hrs)...but remains mushy for days afterwards. I am dreading the Fall.
Still not sure what I should do despite all your advice... I have no digital camera to post pics. It's a 2' drop & they built a 3 step staircase...I can see it's not going to last forever and God knows what's going on underneath there- it's moist and stuff falls b/t the wooden slats...they DID at least block off the sides so no critters can get under there.
Still stumped. I think concrete would be more of a nightmare when it ices up.
deb
 
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Old 08-06-07, 09:12 AM
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As mentioned above, I personally would go for the pavestone or equivalent type patio. Where we live we have trouble with concrete heaving too, and the pavestone is a great alternative. The prep work is about the same as concrete, it's an easy DIY project, and if you take your time to do it right, you will be very happy with the results. Low relative cost, no maintenance, and a big return on your time investment.

However if you have a drainage issue, the heaving will still push up the pavestone bricks. We have a flagstone patio next to a fairly major drainage point and the edge where the water collects does heave a bit and then settles back come spring. To save yourself time and sanity, solve the drainage problem first, then put in the patio.
 
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Old 08-07-07, 02:54 AM
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When you mentioned "free standing" were you thinking of something that floated on top of the soil? That would be an interesting and unique project, I donít think that I have ever heard of such a thing but I would like to see it. I was thinking of a deck that did not attach to the house.

My comments on costs were for concrete slab vs pavers. Concrete used to be cheaper for labor and more for the raw material, pavers were cheaper for the same area but more for the labor since the ground had to be prepped, cut and filled before the surface could be hand laid. Not sure if that still holds true, concrete prices have gone nuts the past few years. However if you have a sever water problem, any cut would have to be deep and backfilled with gravel and sand to make sure that the surface did not get wet. This is true for both concrete and pavers since water penetration would crack either one when it froze.

How old is your neighborhood? I canít imagine that the city or a developer wouldn't have done something about draining the swamp. One thought, and we have seen this out here, is that new developments down slope have disturbed the historic drainage or water flow. Determining this requires some very high level expertise but if the whole neighborhood has this problem it might be worth getting a few of the neighbors to pitch in and get the opinion of a Consulting Hydrologist, sometimes a local university can be contacted for a low cost look-see. If new construction is the cause, you (and the community) may have action against the builder. If the opinion is that you live in a marsh, they might have a solution that you can present to the city.

Have you checked with the local building department or zoning commission about this? They probably already know about your situation and can offer some advice.


However, you don't didn't want to drain the swamp, you just want to keep the mud out and the dogs clean.

Remember this is free advice subject to comment and modification by others with more experience and better ideas.

I would look at doing an elevated, free standing wood deck and make the surface slightly lower than your exterior door and move the stairs out to one or two edges of the new deck. This will provide a dry, mud free zone for you and the dogs. If they do get muddy, you can clean them off while keeping clean(er) yourself.

The foundation is the one area that you don't want to skimp on, money or quality wise, since it is the key to keeping everything together for years and is a long term solution.

Anything else that you do on or at ground level will only be a temporary solution, but then you will have to do something all over again in 3-5 years,

Put the footings in using a product called Square Foot and an 8" Sono Tube (or something similar) and attach a 4x4 PT post high enough to stay out of the water. These products are just forms that are filled with concrete but they form a pier with a large foot at the base that resist sinking in wet ground and freezing uplift. I figure about 1.3 - 1.5 CuFt of concrete per footing.

Put 9 of these down on 6' centers for a 12x12 pattern.

From here it is just a standard deck and use PT wood for everything. Check with the city to double check but I think 4x6 beams and 2x8 floor joists should be enough and the 4x4 posts that sit on the pillars should be high enough to provide posts for the railing and use 2x6ís for the surface and gap them to allow water/snow to drain.

This will keep the wood out of direct water contact and up high enough for good ventilation and you can buy some plastic simulated wood 2x2 lattice as a skirt to keep critters from moving under your new deck.

Best of luck.
 
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Old 08-07-07, 07:00 AM
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Deck vs patio

A paver patio may be the best solution for your problem. It can be a DIY project and will hold up to the conditions if installed properly. - Only someone from California would think a paver patio "cracks" since it is designed for durable use in northern climates.

You will have to do some "grunt" work for a 12x12 area. This would include removing the mud, providing a drainage path away from the area and placing 4"-6" of base. After that it is 1" of concrete sand and the pavers. Put in plastic , steel or aluminum edging, sprinkle sand over the surface and vibrate to level and lock the pavers together.

Pavers perform so well in cold climates because they can move slightly and will return to their original position without cracking. The 8000 psi compressive strength insures durability.

If you have severe drainage problems, you could slope the base material in the direction needed to provide drainage. You would still use a uniform 1" sand setting bed. If your drainage is very poor, it may look a little strange, but it can work.

It is certainly a preferable option to a low deck over wet soil that has not real air circulation that will have a limited life. - If you change your mind with pavers, you can rip them up and install wherever you want.

Dick
 
 

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