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HeyPally 06-10-2009 09:15 AM

Low-lying deck construction

I'm looking at building a very VERY low deck. No more than 5 or 6 inches off the ground total. This is necessary to incorporate a new back door opening on to the deck where currently there is a window. I wondering if it is possible to use 4x4 posts and lie them lengthwise on concrete footings instead of using 2x6 or 2x8 joists? The deck boards would then be attached directly to the 4x4's and 2x4's would be used for skirting and rim joists where necessary.

Is this a plausible design?


handyguys 06-10-2009 12:38 PM

Have you considered a paver patio? It will last forever. It may be a bit more physical work but isnt too hard to DIY. Or, consider a poured concrete patio. That would require a concrete delivery and proper prep of the area but would be really fast and pretty cheap.

I envy you. I wish I could do a paver patio - I have too much grade change out my back door to do it. I need a deck.

HeyPally 06-10-2009 12:46 PM

Hi Handyguys,

Thanks for the reply. I have thought about stone but I prefer the look and feel of wood. I'm not a big fan of plain poured concrete and doing anything like patterned concrete just becomes stupid expensive. I guess it comes down to more of an aesthetic issue. Wood is good! :)

handyguys 06-10-2009 01:21 PM

First step will be for you to get your building code requirements from your township code department. They may not have any specific requirements for such a deck but you should ask them first. They may only specify footer depth.

A better plan might be to abandon traditional deck construction techniques.

See if this will fly with local building department...
Level the area and fill with 4" deep crushed stone
lay 4x4 frame
2x decking

in other words, no footers. Build it right on the ground on the stone. This has multiple benefits.
1) Its not attached to house or footers and may not be considered permanent. (maybe no permit)
2) You wont need to worry about sag or spans due to limited 4x4 strength
3) You wont need to dig to frost depth for footers

You will want your 4x4s spaced at 16" for 2x decking, 12" for 5/4 decking.

Use pressure treated.

One new technique I have seen is to put a 'cover' on the joist to prevent rot. if you use a 4x4 this could be more important as there will be more places for water to hold against the wood. Grace (the company name) has a product called Vycor - its a self stick membrane. Stick that to the tops of each joist of for long lasting protection.

make sense?

HeyPally 06-10-2009 02:15 PM

Hmmmmmmm...I like this. That would even save me a couple of inches for the footings if it was right on the gravel.

It's definitely not a traditional design but in the end I hope it will do the job and hopefully look just as good.

I'm looking at the Vycor product you suggested as well. Now I just have to find it somewhere! I will check with the building permit people and see what they have to say. Next step will be to price all of this out.

kok328 06-10-2009 03:50 PM

I don't the know the name of the product but, it's a footing block, about 8"x8" tapered toward the top to about 6"x6", made of concrete or plastic. It has an intersection/cross molded into the top to recieve a joist from either direction. This might be just what your looking for. It's low profile (or could be made to be) and you don't have to dig for footing, it just floats on the ground surface.

bdmonist 06-29-2009 07:42 PM

Have you considered just digging out enough to incorporate your height requirements? I built one a few years back and wanted it to be level with a concrete patio that was built by the developer. I just dug out where I could install my 2x8 joists and 5/4 decking. 16" is plenty for 5/4 by the way, you don't need to go 12" on center with your joists.

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