Demolish back porch concrete landing or build on top?

by Errol
(San Diego )

Front view of existing porch

Front view of existing porch

I'm up in the air about demolishing and removing the porch concrete landing stoop in my backyard to make way for a new deck or leaving it and putting a ledger board on the stucco between the stoop and sliding door (6" of space).

It could fit a 2x6 ledger with a little room for play, and with vinyl decking it shouldn't come up higher than the door frame.

The landing stoop does angle out for drainage and the total size of the stoop is 4' x13'6". The proposed deck would be 13'6" x 12'. The concrete does have a few cracks. Can demolishing this be avoided?

Editor's Comments

Many homeowners are faced with this very question of what to do with an old precast concrete stoop or porch just like you have here. Typically the porch stoop is set onto the grade right after construction and the soil, having been just recently back filled and therefore "disturbed", will settle over the coming two to three years.

I am sure you have seen this where the precast porch and stairs slope dramatically downward towards the house. This does not seem to be your problem and if it has been stable for the past number of years the soil may be now considered "undisturbed" and not likely to move.

Things To Consider

If the stoop is stable and never going to move - and you have enough clearance between the door sill and the porch so that you can rest all or part of the joist structure on the concrete stoop - you would not have to remove it.

In this case the deck would be a free standing structure and this would be an all around easier way to go.

Otherwise without enough clearance you must demolish and remove the concrete stoop in order to have enough space to accommodate the deck framing. This demolition requirement exists whether you build a ledger attached or a free standing deck. I much more favor a free standing deck for a long list of reasons. Let's discuss why...

Challenges With A Low Level Ledger Attached Deck

Attaching a deck to the ledger after the house has been constructed is so much more difficult and expensive to do. The difficulty varies with the exterior envelope being vinyl, wood, cement fiber board, stucco or brick.

You have to remove the right amount of the exterior cladding, accurately locate the first floor rim joist, identify whether it is a solid board or an I-beam style. You also have to know whether the floor joists of the house run perpendicular or parallel to the ledger.

And once this is all done and figured out you very likely will have to know secure the ledger using one of several approved techniques. There are accepted traditional building techniques and there are proprietary through bolt and connection systems sold by some of the major manufacturers. And for your situation in my humble opinion, it is over kill.

You should start by reading this article that summarizes five of the most common and accepted ledger connection techniques.

And then see how a real project was built where the deck was attached to the ledger after the house had been constructed and see if you really want to get into this.

And keep in mind, the examples I have referred you to are actually easier to do because they are somewhat elevated above the grade. In your case you have very little room to maneuver.

Free Standing Low Level Deck

A deck that sits about 1" away from the edge of the siding of the house is so much easier to build and can be extremely well constructed and reliable. In addition you do not have to use frost footings unless you really want to. That is completely up to you.

You will spend a lot more money and a lot of time digging and pouring cement footings for an application that in your case is almost certainly not necessary.


As you consider the footings to use, one thing you may want to also think about is how low do you need the underside of the deck joists to sit above the grade? If you want the deck to be quite low you will not have as much room.

Using concrete deck blocks means you may have to dig holes and set the block lower in the soil so the joists can rest closer to the ground.

If you use a poured cement footing, make sure the post brackets anchored in the concrete are low enough to hold the joists or carrier beam as the desired elevation.

One other way of doing this that is very easy to do is to use the Titan Deck Foot Anchor. Rest beams in the post brackets and run joists flush with the beams. At either end of the deck you can extend the outside joists over the end of each beam and then frame in the gap to extend the deck framing beyond the beam a bit.

This looks really nice and you can set you deck - the top of the deck surface as little as 10-12" above the grade - if you wish by using this technique. You can learn more about the deck foot anchor here.

I hope this helps out as you consider whether to demolish the concrete porch stoop landing or not.

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