correct way to build ground level deck

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Old 07-01-10, 04:41 PM
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correct way to build ground level deck

I'm in the process of designing a two-tier deck off the back of my house. The lower level will be as low to the ground as I can make it, so there's essentially only one step into the yard. My question is: what is the correct way to do this? The books and sites that I've looked through don't really cover this very well. The best I've found is this tutorial Project Guide: Building a Ground-Level Deck.

This seems straight forward enough. Same footings (36" deep at my location) and then run 2x6 (or 8) directly on top instead of having posts / beams. Is this the correct way to do it? Is there anything I should watch out for? There will be a gap between the bottom of the deck and the ground so drainage won't change and the ventilation won't be completely zero...

Thanks for any advice!
 
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Old 07-01-10, 05:24 PM
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That's correct, 36" footings. Set the proper brackets in the cement while they are wet. Use a sting line to square the deck. I would avoid a ledger board. Leave a 2" gap between the house. If the second level is going to have a railing, let the posts come up through floor & use them for the railing.
 
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Old 07-01-10, 07:07 PM
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The upper deck will be connected to the house through the ledger. Several stairs then lead to the lower, ground level deck. I was thinking about mounting a ledger to the posts that support the upper deck to start the ground level deck. Is this a bad idea? Should I essentially create a free standing ground level deck and then just have the set of stairs attach the two? I really appreciate your insight. Thanks!
 
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Old 07-01-10, 07:20 PM
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The idea of free standing is so water can't collect anywhere & rot the wood. That's why architects are moving away from ledger boards. 4 inch L brackets can still be used for stability between the upper deck & the house or between the 2 decks.
 
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Old 07-03-10, 08:36 PM
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I have a followup question to this. My current design would require some cantilevered pieces off the edges of the deck. Is there a rule of thumb on how much you can cantilever? Since this deck isn't a traditional joist resting on top of a beam, I would have joists perpendicularly connected to the edges of the deck with joist hangers and then adding a rim joist to that to achieve the correct shape. Is this wise? I'm having issues figuring out how to design a deck this low (using the method on home depot's website), that isn't just a rectangle.

A picture of the deck that inspired this idea is below. You'll notice on the front of the image there is a curved section that is cantileved off of the supporting beam. How much can you cantilever? 2ft? Run the joists @ 12" OC?

http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2284/...3e300df071.jpg


Thanks again for all of your advice!
 
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Old 07-04-10, 06:03 AM
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A cantilever usually has angled supports underneath, so I don't know if your idea would work. I would just add some footings to that section.
 
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Old 07-07-10, 11:44 AM
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Originally Posted by Pulpo View Post
The idea of free standing is so water can't collect anywhere & rot the wood. That's why architects are moving away from ledger boards. 4 inch L brackets can still be used for stability between the upper deck & the house or between the 2 decks.
What about adding a drip ledge that goes over the ledger and behind the siding? Won't that stop water from collecting on the wood?
 
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Old 07-07-10, 02:51 PM
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That may work but there is another reason why you might want a free standing deck. Don't hold me to it but I heard that if the deck is attached to the house, it becomes part of the structure & is taxed accordingly. Supposedly, money is saved if it's not attached. In the next week or two I'll be talking to an inspector. Maybe he can confirm or deny that thought.
 
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Old 07-08-10, 08:33 AM
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I know in my area that's not the case (about it being taxed). I'm just not convinced yet that a freestanding deck is absolutely necessary, will it keep the board on your house from rotting, of course. But it brings the mind the law of diminishing returns. Yes it will help but how much for all that extra effort, doubling your support structure more piers, ect. I would dare say that a properly installed ledger with proper flashing should last the life of the deck. Of course if you were REALLY worried about the board on your house you're bolting to, because it's not PT and all, you could just put a layer of roofing paper between it and your ledger, then maybe another layer on top of your ledger after it's bolted. That would protect you completely from any water, unless you were worried about it getting through the nail holes LOL.

Any pros wanna weigh in on this theory I could be insane?
 
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Old 07-08-10, 09:35 AM
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I've built alot of decks as a helper & we always used a ledger board. It wasn't until I started to work with an architect that I learned about free standing. Extra footings weren't needed. The design uses the posts on top of the footings for the railings as well. In other words, the posts continued 3 feet above the decking. When it was tied together, it gave it the strength it needed. The deck could be built in the middle of the desert.
 
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Old 07-08-10, 09:50 AM
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No extra footings needed? You need footings on the house side of the deck to hold up that end. Right now I'm planning my deck with a single doubled up 2x12 beam then ledger on the other end.
 
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Old 07-08-10, 11:57 AM
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2 footings on the house side is not a big deal. If you want to use a ledger, don't let me stop you.
 
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Old 07-08-10, 12:37 PM
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Alright, it's ON! Thanks man!

:-)
 
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Old 07-08-10, 09:06 PM
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Your call -- a few extra footings and make the deck free-standing, or ledger it to the house and deal with getting the ledger flashed PROPERLY so it won't (and CAN'T leak) and rot out the wall of the house.

Low level decks -- OPEN UP YOU'RE CHECKBOOK because the ARE more expensive than a higher level deck. A higher level deck will have the joists sitting on top of the beams. That's a few nails to hold the joists in place. Low level means HANGING the joists between the beams -- 2 additional LU hangers for EVERY section of joist. Your joists are 6' long, not 16' or 20'. At $1 per hanger, that's going to add to the cost, fast!!
 
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Old 07-09-10, 05:22 AM
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Fortunately mines not low level but I feel the low level pain. I built one before that was ground level. Fortunately with my existing house I have a slope that goes from about 1' to 6'.
 
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