Deck Footings vs. Piers: What's the Difference?
Deck footings are one of the most important aspects of designing a new deck for your home. Deck footings are used to provide the foundation for your deck and make it strong and stable when it is being used. When designing a deck, it is common to use deck piers and footings to provide support for the deck. This article will explain what the two components are and how they are used to make your deck safer and stronger.
Deck footings are the concrete base that is used to support a post or deck pier that secures your deck off the ground. Sometimes, a deck footing can be installed above ground and may resemble a concrete vase with a large pole in it. Other times, the footing for a deck may be installed several feet underground and you will not be able to see it. In fact, this is the case most of the time.
Where a deck footing is installed is usually determined by the frost line of the soil where the deck will be located. If you live in an area that seldom experiences temperatures below freezing, such as a tropical area in the southern United States, you may be able to install the deck sitting at or very near ground level.
On the other hand, if you live in a state that experiences cold winters, you may be required to install the deck fitting up to a 6 feet underground. This is because cold weather has an adverse effect on concrete when heavy weight of pressure is applied to it. So, decks that are installed in cold climate areas usually require concrete bases or footings that are buried deep in the soil. This helps prevent undue stress or cracking on the concrete footing and makes for a much safer and stronger deck.
Generally speaking, the more footings a deck has, the less weight each footing will be required to support. Therefore, it is not uncommon to see decks with 4, 8 or even more deck footings installed. Simply put, the more footings your deck has, the stronger and more stable it will be.
A deck pier is a column or post that is inserted into the concrete footing and used to support the base of your deck. Most of the time, deck piers will be made of treated lumber that is either round or square. In most cases, deck piers will be at least 4 inches across; however, it is not uncommon to see deck piers that are 6 or even 12 inches in diameter. As a general rule of thumb, the wider the diameter or width of the deck pier, the stronger it will be.
Deck piers are usually inserted into the concrete footing while the concrete is still wet. Then, deck piers are attached to the underside of the deck and bolted to floor joists anchor or lag bolts. On some decks, deck piers may even be made out of iron or steel to provide greater stability.