Salvaging Deck Structure, Supports

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Old 04-14-20, 10:53 PM
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Salvaging Deck Structure, Supports

What I continue to discover on my '91 spec home never ceases to amaze me. My front porch is no different. Here's a shot of it from last year when I repainted the house (railing and fascia removed).

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The porch felt solid, so my plan was to reuse the existing structure, re-deck it with composite, new stairs, fascia, skirting, etc. I knew I would likely have some siding to replace on the left side where the deck meets the house; about half the lower deck shoots out past the edge of the roof and is exposed to weather.

I tore the old decking off to see what I was working with. The siding was rotted out and unfortunately it was into the OSB, but overall not too bad once I removed all compromised pieces. The builders nailed the rim joist directly to the side of the house, over the siding. No flashing.

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Now here is where things get entertaining. The trend of nailing the rim joists and ledger directly over the unfinished siding into the house (hopefully into studs) continues around the deck. There is a 4x8 beam in the middle of the deck, separating the upper and lower half; however, the beam is not supported from the ground in any way. There are two pier support brackets hanging in mid air, above holes where I suppose the builders thought about using footings. Instead, they basically nailed the perimeter of the deck to the house and (after probably a quick jump test) called it good.

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The lower level header is nailed to the beam, so I guess it does something by stiffening the header. But the beam itself is supported (held up) on the left side by the rim joist nailed to the house and on the right side by some questionable nails into the lower level header and upper level rim joist at the corner of the house. Something like this:

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Looking for suggestions on how to tackle this. As much as I would like to tear it all out and start fresh, the wood itself is in good shape since most of it is out of the weather. And I'm not too worried about ledger or other areas where the deck meets the house (even though they are nailed in over the siding) for the same reason (protected from weather, no signs of issues). My main question/concern is the rim joist where the rot occurred, and how to redo that section.

One option I thought of that won't require me to properly attach that rim joist to the house (with flashing, etc) would be to throw a couple pier blocks under there and actually support that center beam. Then the deck would only need to rely on the ledger and two beams to hold it up. The problem rim joist would then have a small gap off the house to allow airflow where the rot occurred. With primed/painted siding I think it would be fine (I mean, it took 30 years to get to this point with no airflow). Supporting that beam would also solve the problem with the questionable way they supported the deck at the right corner of the house.

Thoughts? Thanks!
 
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Old 04-15-20, 03:11 AM
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Biggest problem I see is that your ledgers are 2x6? Current code states minimum 2x8. Not that old things need to meet current codes... just saying. Ledgers also shouldnt be nailed, they should be lagged or bolted. And your upper ledger may be above the rim joist. See DCA6. Yes, you could add some footings and supports. The fact that the whole thing is improperly constructed would make me want to tear it off and start over. But it's your deck.
 
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Old 04-15-20, 05:31 AM
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It appears from the pics there are no rim joist at the walls perpendicular to the floor joists, only rough sheathing Hence the left and right side of the deck in your porch frame diagram is only attached to the house by fasteners into 1/2 or 3/4 inch sheathing unless the builder took the time to attach to the end of a floor joist. I would put in 6 inch sono tube for vertical supports. Using your porch frame diagram, locate under the top right corner of the lower deck and each end of the unsupported center beam. If the upper deck does not feel solid, I would add two sono tubes under the upper deck. I would locate them 1/3 the length of the upper deck from the wall with the door and under the outer frame members of the upper deck. I would attach a piece of PT 2x6 from the sono tube support to the top of the outer frame member of the upper deck for vertical support. I would then attach another PT 2x6 to the vertical supports and up against the top deck framing members. I know a sketch would be easier to understand, bur I don't have a sketching program.
 
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Old 04-15-20, 07:37 AM
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I'd remove it all and make it free standing by adding some piers and beams, or at some point your going to be right back where you stated from.
Also those stairs do not even come close to meeting code.
 
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Old 04-15-20, 03:05 PM
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Thank everyone for your input. After further consideration I'm going to tear it out and start fresh. Besides the poor construction, another reason for this is I realized the upper level rim joist is even with the corner trim on the house. I was planning on adding a fascia board there and have the decking edge overhang...so with the rim joist flush the decking/fascia would protrude past the trim and look funny.

I need to get under the house to see what the current ledger is nailed into, so my plans will depend on that. If I can lag/bolt a new ledger to the house rim joist, then my idea would be to construct the deck in a similar way. Reuse the existing long beam and pour footings for the beam in the center. The deck would then have a gap around the perimeter (except at the ledger).

Because I want to keep upper deck rim joist inside the corner trim of the house, I couldn't think of a good way to deal with the beam and lower deck rim joist. Ideally the center beam would span the length of the lower deck and act as the lower deck rim joist, but that would put the edge of my upper deck out too far. Is it okay to lag the lower deck rim joist to the beam just like a ledger to the house?

The next issue is how to support the the right side of the lower deck. Even if the lower deck rim joist was a proper beam, by code that is too much cantilever. I thought maybe another post, but I'm not sure if that's physically possible for how close it is to the house (or if that's even proper way to do it). Something like this:

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Would adding another short beam section be better?

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And if I can't get the ledger into house rim joist, is my only option to add another beam and make the entire thing freestanding?

Thanks for the advice!
 
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Old 04-15-20, 06:46 PM
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I just checked and found that the top of the current ledger is within 1" of the top of the the 2x10 house rim joist (best I could gauge from the crawl space), so that is good news. I'll be able to lag/bolt in a new PT 2x8 ledger into the house rim joint no problem. With flashing and not through the siding, of course.
 
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Old 04-17-20, 03:59 PM
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After thinking about this some more, I feel like the option presented above with the short beam would best fall in line with code. So I would have one ledger, lagged to the house rim joist with flashing. The upper deck rim joist would rest on and attached to the center beam. The lower deck rim joist would be lagged to the beam. The short beam would span 3 (or 4) joists to support the right side of the lower deck. Blocking at the long and short beam (not sure if needed at center beam). And that would leave a gap around the deck perimeter between the structure and the siding for airflow.

Does that sound reasonable? Anything I can do to simplify it? Could I have the short beam just span two joists with a single post in the center of it? Still unsure about the upper/lower connection at the center beam, but that's the best I could think of.

Thanks!

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Last edited by jstluise; 04-17-20 at 04:53 PM.
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Old 09-14-20, 05:11 PM
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After many months of putting off this project I finally got around to finishing it, so I thought I would post an update. I constructed the deck much like I described in my last post. The ledger is now properly sized and flashed, and secured to the house rim. This is the only connection to the house; the rest of the structure perimeter has clearance to the house for airflow. The porch now has a properly supported center beam, and I reused the existing outer beam. I added a single post to corner to provide support to the overhang...it's basically just supporting the outer joist which is all I needed. Other than that it was pretty straight forward. Took some careful planning to make sure I got all my vertical spacing correct but it turned out pretty good. A laser level was invaluable for this project, I'm glad I had one. It was also my first time working with composite decking, so there were things I learned along the way. I also added some skirting to the deck by making slats with leftover fascia I had and added wire screen into the ground to keep critters out. I'm sure there are things that aren't to code, but it's a heck of a lot better than the original and super solid now!







 
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