Low Profile Deck Question

by Robert Boyero
(Pensacola, FL)

I just got stationed in Pensacola and would like to build a low profile deck in our new backyard. My plan is for a 12x12 deck.

I have several questions really regarding lumber choice for the beams 2x8 or 2x10.

My plan was to place the beams directly onto the footings. I've seen anchors that go into the (wet) footings that will support either 2x6s or 2x8s.

Also, how many footings would be required for my span? I know it is partially dependent on the size of the lumber used as well - 2x8 or 2x10

Joists would be attached to the beams using hangers and then finished off with 2x6 decking. Feel free to provide me any guidance you see fit.

Thanks,

Bob

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Mar 21, 2010
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Low Profile Deck
by: Anonymous

Thanks for your comments on my last message re: placing something between the patio stone and the lumber.

I am trying to build an extremely low profile deck (12x16) and was considering placing the patio stones as you have mentioned, and then laying 12 foot 4x4 posts on their sides onto the patio stones (with plastic between the 4x4's and patio stones as you have noted).

Nailing 2x4's across the ends to create a square "frame" and then screwing deck boards directly into the 4x4's.

Does this sound like something that would work? Or is there a concern that the 4x4's might twist over time cause the deck to become mis-shaped?

Mar 19, 2010
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Keeping Framing Dry
by: Editor - Rich Bergman

It's always a wise idea to elevate joists or any framing material off of any surface like concrete but particularly so in wet or humid environments.

You could use any material to do that job. Maybe even some rubber pieces say 1/2" thick or so or get some high density plastic strips from a plastic shop.

I am thinking about the phenolic plastic strips commonly used for making table saw jigs and things. Very durable and available.

Anything that will not be rotting itself and will tend to keep the wood contact points elevated. You also want this material to have high compression strength too.

Mar 16, 2010
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Water and Rot Issues for Stringers
by: Anonymous

I have a question about putting the stringers on patio stones.

Is there a chance of wood rot where the stringers contact the stones?

Also, we live in Southern Ontario, Canada. We get below freezing in winter (as low as -20 celcius). Would that be cause for concern?

Jan 20, 2009
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Toe Nail with Screws or Spiral Nails
by: Rich Bergman - Editor

You should be sure to shim underneath each contact point between the joists and the flat 2x4 or 2x6 underneath so there is continuous contact.

Secure the joists to the flat pieces below by toe nailing some 3" wood screws through both pieces.

Jan 20, 2009
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Attaching Joists to Beam
by: Anonymous

You suggest laying a 2x4 or a 2x6 flat on the stones (as the beam) and then put the joists on top of them. How would you suggest attaching the vertically-standing joists to the flat-lying beam?

Oct 25, 2008
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Building a low profile deck
by: Rich Bergman - Editor

Building a low profile deck as you suggested requires a few different techniques that I will try to explain.

Obviously if you use 2x8 or 2x10s for joists they will alter the height of the top deck surface. Furthermore if you intend to lay your deck framing structure on top of beams running perpendicular to the joist direction you must add the beam thickness to attain your overall deck height.

And of course you must then add on the slope differential of the grade over the length of the deck and also the height of any concrete piers that protrude from the ground and on which your beams will be attached.

So get some graph paper and start adding up the various heights of each decking component. And don't forget the deck board thickness.

Now, here is a way to drop your deck even lower to the grade and eliminate the height of the beams.

Don't use any beams.

So what will support the joists? Good question. This option requires a bit more landscaping work but will really work out nice. Assuming your grade is flat set 24"x24" patio stones about 12" apart from each other in a line that is perpendicular to the joist direction.

Run a line of patio stones about 5' or 6' apart if you are using 2x8 joists. Allow for about 18" of overhang for the deck on the last runs of patio stones.

You can set the patio stones in the ground a bit by removing the sod and putting down some stone dust. Soak the stone dust with water to compress. Allow 24 hours to settle it before putting down the patio stones.

Now lay a flat 2x4 or 2x6 pressure treated board that runs the entire width of the deck on top of each patio stone. This will replace what would have been your beam. It separates the deck joists from the patio stones and greatly reduces the height of your overall deck.

You must meticulously level the flat 2x4 or 2x6s so the deck structure is level and there is full contact between joists, flat 2x4, 2x6 and the patio stones. Don't stop until you get this right.

This is where some effort will be spent but in the end you'll have a deck that is low to the ground, is strong, doesn't bounce and looks great.


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Low Profile Deck Questions

I would like to place a deck over a concrete slab. The slab is only 6" below the outside door. Can I use 4x4 beams supported 1" above the slab with 2x4 as the joists?

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Aug 21, 2010
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Low Deck Construction - Composite concerns
by: Mark- Buffalo NY

Wish to build a deck over an existing 6" high older concrete patio slab. I have about 8" to work with and still keep it below the patio sliding door. Here is my first question:For sleepers my thought is to use 2X 4 or 2 X 6 PT wood on edge as joist secured to the slab. Most important Question: I have been unable to find definitive advice as to the potential moisture problem using composite decking ( preferred)as opposed to PT 5/4. What are your thoughts?

Apr 24, 2010
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You don't have much clearance
by: Editor - Rich Bergman

I would consider using 2x3 joists with decking on top as you would have about 2" of clearance below you door sill. I think that is a safer strategy than having the decking up so close to the level of the sill.

Any other builders with a few good comments please chime in.

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