faster, easier Options for Deck Foundations
There are simpler ways to support your deck
You all know how much work and effort and money it
takes to install traditional concrete deck foundations - or footings.
Not to mention time waiting for concrete to cure. It's the hardest part
of building a deck.
In some cases, given the height of a deck, you have connect it to
the ledger of the home. And I am afraid that means you must install
proper concrete footing foundations that go below frost line so the deck
doesn't move independently in relation to the home.
Most Decks Can Be "Free Standing" or "Floating"
Did you know this?
If your deck is 6 feet or less, with proper post to beam and joist
bracing your deck is a perfect candidate for a floating deck.
This means you you have some options for your deck foundation that can save you money, time and effort.
Here are your deck footing options:
Surface Deck Blocks
Engineered Helical Piers
Flat Concrete Forms
The cheapest deck foundations are concrete deck blocks that just sit on the ground. Usually less than $10 a piece.
You have to buy a lot of them to make sure that you spread the
weight of your deck out over enough soil surface area that they don't
sink due to the weight.
But if you are in a high wind zone - and much of the continental
United States, and parts of Canada are - you have to also install ground
anchors with tie-down cables over the deck framing to make sure it
won't achieve "Lift-Off" in a worst case scenario.
But they only hold 4x4 posts, not 6x6s and they have no lateral
strength at base of the post. And if you drop set the framing into the
groove the underside of the joist is still 5-6" above grade. You may
want a lower set deck.
But these are the cheapest deck foundations solutions anywhere.
Engineered Helical Piers
Been around for a long time. Proven technology.
But usually require heavy machinery to install and are most common
for foundation repair to homes and all of this requires close review by
engineers and of course the cost reflects this as it is a top notch high
Usually way too expensive for a light weight deck structure. But
these systems are designed so they do not budge if there is frost heave.
If you are connecting your deck or structure to a home, then this is an important consideration.
Ground Anchored Spikes
You have seen ground spikes used for fence posts.
Some of them can use modified load plates and are less expensive
than an engineered helical pier and provide more lateral strength than
surface block deck block footing.
But the installation method is either brute strength with a sledge hammer or use a jack hammer.
A lot of home owners aren't interested in learning how to use or take time to rent a jack hammer.
Plus if the spike goes in crooked or you have to back it out to
re-angle or re-install it is really tough to do without special pulleys
Despite these issues, they are an affordable option.
If you go this route, I would recommend rather than the cheap
version you see in the picture above, which has now load plate to
distribute weight that you take a good look at the Oz-Deck system. It is well made and very reliable. Not sure if they are making the Oz-Deck anymore so do check with them.
Ground Screw Anchored Footings
Here is a nice twist on the concept of a ground screw or anchor that can be used to displace weight.
This is a fast and easy solution for supporting any light weight structure that is floating or free standing from a house.
You just screw the auger portion into the ground using an impact
wrench. So there is no kick back. Its a lightweight hand held tool.
And then you can screw on any post bracket you need. So if you hit
an obstacle like a rock, you just reverse it out and move over a bit.
For any floating deck this is a very good option to consider.
You can learn more here. It is well made and very reliable.
Flat Concrete Forms
If you are set on using concrete footings for your decks foundation,
then I want to share with you a truly great system that is so easy to
use - other than the digging and mixing concrete.
It's a flat concrete form that saves so much space transporting instead of big round sonotube forms
And its design incorporates a bell shaped footing so you don't need
to spend another $25 on a heavy duty plastic bell shaped form.
This is a great idea and I really want to share this with you and
congratulate the inventor for such an elegantly designed solution.
Contact or Flat-Forms.com for local availability.
Or read further if you want to learn more.
Just A Few Choices For You
A few ways to design foundations for your deck.
This is just a quick summary of some of the ways you can build your
deck foundations on your deck. If you can get away will a floating style
for a free standing deck, go for it. Otherwise, do investigate the flat
form footing concept.
Some Other Great Reading...
A Closer Look At Flat Forms