VP building a free standing deck in Toronto

by VP
(Toronto, ON, Canada)

I'm "stuck" - can someone provide some feedback....

I am planning on building a free standing deck (34' across x 16' deep), with an added gazebo (10' x 10') - one step up - partly overlapping deck on end corner

My plan is as follows:

- 18" high from top of concrete pier to top of deck, level with door
- use (3) beams - (2)x2x8 and 2x8 joists
- use 12" dia sono tube - 4' deep (marked "x" below)
- there is a 30" bay window on one end and a 30" x 12' section of disturbed soil down to the footings due to digging for waterproofing,approx.6 yrs. ago.

Can I cantilever over this distance, say 36" or more to the house wall, and still be sturdy?

Can I get away with using less footings?

Can I attach beams directly to concrete piers (on metal post bracket - no wooden post)due to height restriction?

Any alternatives - please feel free to comment.

The frost line here is 40-42" (Toronto, Ontario, Canada)

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Mar 19, 2012
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Paverdeck perfect for ground level decks.
by: John

Richard, in addition to your footing post, I would recommend using the Paverdeck galvanized steel deck platform. We now offer it with replaceable anodes to provide a lifetime no maintenance decking system.

The galvanized steel deck platform is perfect for ground level decks, as it is not susceptible to moisture, mold or rotting like traditional PT deck structures.

Also, with inexpensive concrete pavers now available, it comes in very cost competitive with cedar or composite decks. www.PaverDeck.com

Aug 12, 2011
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Free standing deck footings - Things to consider
by: Editor-Rich Bergman

You raise many issues in this question. I will try to cover as many as possible. The recommended maximum cantilever ratio is L/4 where L is the distance that a single joist spans from the beam at the front of the deck to the back of the deck. So for a 30" cantilever you should have a joist span from beam to beam of at least 120".

Framing around a bay window requires double headers and double trimmer joists all with joist hangers.

Disturbed soil is the back filled soil around the house. This is more complicated and bigger issue if you are building a structure like a house, much heavier than a deck. Technically disturbed soil is always considered disturbed unless compacted, settled and checked by a soil engineer.

But Section 403.1.4 of the IRC does state all footings must be at least 12" below grade on undisturbed soil and below the frost line where applicable. But there is an exception for decks not supported by a house do not need footings below frost line.

The minute you secure a deck to a house you have to have footings that are just as stable as those for the house foundation or you risk the deck moving in opposition during freeze thaw cycles. But this is not a risk for free standing decks. The deck is free to move marginally during thaw cycles and resettle to normal.

To be safest set all of your footings 4-5 feet from the house and you have 10" or 12" joists that can handle such a cantilever distance. Brace your posts diagonally to stop wobble.

But I have seen most free standing decks built with footings 2-3" from the foundation with never a problem so long as the footing is below frost line AND the total surface area of all footings easily distributes the weight of the deck well below maximum soil bearing capacity.

If you wanted to get to undisturbed soil, call in a company to auger down 6'-7'.

The larger the bearing surface of each footing the less footings required.

That being said this is something you will want to chat with your local building department if this going to be inspected so you don't have problems.

Precast footings or blocks can be used that sit on the surface. You just have to use more of them because they cover a smaller surface area. By using more of them in the zone of disturbed soil you would be putting less stress on this soil and have less risk of uneven movement.

Precast blocks have poor lateral strength at the base of the post and sit quite high - a problem for low decks.

I have developed a new product to address this called the Titan Deck Foot and will be available in March 2012. Contact us or call 1-866-577-8868 to learn more and see if it is a viable solution for you. It is a fraction the cost of concrete footings and designed for free standing decks.

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