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Thread: How do I build a Freestanding Deck?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
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    How do I build a Freestanding Deck?

    Any body build decks for a living? I want to build a small freestanding deck, main reason is the house is very old(100+ years). The old deck had 3 layers of decking on it, 1 2X4 and 2 5/4X6. Water damage rusted the old hangers badly. Deck size is aprox 8' X 7' and 44 inches high. The picture attached shows one beam, I want to use 2 so it stands on it's own supports not using a ledger on the house. Will most likely still lag bolt it to keep it from swaying. Questions:

    What size beams would you use?

    How many and what size post to hold the beams up?

    What size Joist?

    Do I need a double joist on the ends where the rim joist attaches with the joist?

    Would you still use joist hanges or just nail through the ends?

    Would you anchor bolt the post to the concrete piers?

    Thanks, Pete
    Attached Images Attached Images

  2. #2
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    Peter,
    Go to Home Depot and check out the concrete blocks that have the cross on the top of them. The blocks usually have an instruction sheet somewhere around where they are stacked. I used the cross blocks in California they are great and easy to use and held up well through a couple of earthquakes.
    David B

  3. #3
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    I don't do it for a living, but have built several decks. Anything over a certain height (like yours) requires a permit. When I did one 72" up I had the requirements change regularly depending on which inspector came. One
    thing they inspected was the attachment to the house, which was required by code. If you do go the permit route you will have to check the codes and do a drawing, it can vary by city/state.



    Sammamish, WA

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  4. #4
    A good reference source for building decks is the Fairfax County, Virginia, website.
    http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/dpwes/publications/decks/

    It will give you most of the information and standards necessary for you to build a deck.

  5. #5
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    Unless things have changed, I think most home centers can quickly design a deck for you on the computer. When we built my parent's deck 11 years ago, we just gave the the dimensions we wanted and they spit out a drawing in about 1 minute. That gave the sizing for everything, post locations, etc and was good enough for the township for the permit.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by David G Baker View Post
    Peter,
    Go to Home Depot and check out the concrete blocks that have the cross on the top of them. The blocks usually have an instruction sheet somewhere around where they are stacked. I used the cross blocks in California they are great and easy to use and held up well through a couple of earthquakes.
    David,

    Living in NJ I need a pier about 30 inches deep need to anchor the deck to the piers. If it were a low deck I might consider them. Thanks for the reply.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joe Pelonio View Post
    I don't do it for a living, but have built several decks. Anything over a certain height (like yours) requires a permit. When I did one 72" up I had the requirements change regularly depending on which inspector came. One
    thing they inspected was the attachment to the house, which was required by code. If you do go the permit route you will have to check the codes and do a drawing, it can vary by city/state.
    Joe,

    It will get attached but just to keep it from swaying not to hold it up. Thanks for the reply.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Garth Hulley View Post
    A good reference source for building decks is the Fairfax County, Virginia, website.
    http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/dpwes/publications/decks/

    It will give you most of the information and standards necessary for you to build a deck.
    Garth,

    Thanks for the link, I'll check it out.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Matt Meiser View Post
    Unless things have changed, I think most home centers can quickly design a deck for you on the computer. When we built my parent's deck 11 years ago, we just gave the the dimensions we wanted and they spit out a drawing in about 1 minute. That gave the sizing for everything, post locations, etc and was good enough for the township for the permit.
    Matt,

    Thanks for the reply. I didn't know the big boxes offered that service. I thought they only did kitchen design. I'll have to check that out.

  10. #10
    Best bet is to dig holes 18-20" deep (below the frostline) and cement the posts in. Guarantee it won't move. When I bought my house 18 years ago I put in a pool and built a freestanding deck (10'x14') for it. When the boys were born, got rid of the pool and used the deck as a fort. Boys got big and it's being used as a pool deck again, still as strong as when I put it up.

    Heck....you can put in the posts and joists all at once, after you tamp down and water the cement, and it will hold everything square while the cement hardens. The decking can then be installed the next day.

    'Least thats how I built em.
    Joe
    ------------------------------------------------


    Experience...is simply the name we give our mistakes.

    Oscar Wilde
    .................................................. ..................

  11. #11
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    Kelly Hanna builds decks for a living.

    http://www.sawmillcreek.org/member.php?u=1800

  12. #12
    ooops......forgot the questions......

    What size beams would you use?

    How many and what size post to hold the beams up?

    4x4's......I'd use 9 total, equally spaced 4' on 8' sides, 3.5' on 7' sides and one in the center.

    What size Joist?

    I'd use 2x6's, and run a bearing joist underneath em in the middle. It will hold anything you put on it.

    Do I need a double joist on the ends where the rim joist attaches with the joist?

    Nope.

    Would you still use joist hanges or just nail through the ends?

    I'd just nail em.

    Would you anchor bolt the post to the concrete piers?

    I never used the piers, don't think they had em 20 years ago. I'd just cement em in. Level the posts while pouring the dry cement in...tamp it in good with a 2x4 or something, then water em. If your using a nailgun or screws, you can put up your joists while the cement hardens, guaranteeing it will stay square.
    Joe
    ------------------------------------------------


    Experience...is simply the name we give our mistakes.

    Oscar Wilde
    .................................................. ..................

  13. #13
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    Aug 2006
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    Lake Stevens, WA
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    I'm building one on the back of my house right now. It's 60' by 16'. I've learned a GREAT deal in this process. The first of which is get permit.

    My deck is pretty large and 10' off the ground, but even with a $185 permit fee, it paid for a lot of good advice from the local planning official. He sat aside 30 minutes to go over my plans. He made some recommendations and signed them off. I learned a lot about the building codes and some designs that work better than others.

    I'd suggest buying a good deck book at your local lumber yard and taking your time. Your tax dollars (and permit fees) keep these guys on staff in your local township... use them. They're very helpful.

    Here's the 1 one the 4 drawings I was required to submit. I also had to calculate the impervious surface area and live loads before they'd approve it.


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  14. #14
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    Everyone thanks for all the replies. Lots of good info there. Any more suggestion please post em.

  15. #15
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    I also had to calculate the impervious surface area and live loads before they'd approve it.



    Mike, What is a impervious surface area and how you calculate that and the live loads? Thanks for the reply. Nice drawing, what did you do it with?

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