Low Profile Deck Footings for Low Level Deck

by John Stuart
(Victoria, BC, Canada)

I am building a low profile deck, have couple of questions about footings to keep the deck low to the grade.

The deck is pressure treated 10'x20'. The substructure is 3 2x8 beams with joists mounted flush with top of beams to save height.

1st question - 3 sonotubes per beam for a total of 9 footings. I am wondering how I level all footings to the exact same height so the beam rests directly onto footings evenly.

2nd question- is it possible to build your substructure (beams and joists) below grade to achieve desired height along with sturdy substructure?

The only way i could think of doing this was by excavating 1 foot below grade and putting down couple inches of gravel for soil to wood separation.

I have a feeling this wouldn't work because i've read your footings should extend 2-3" above grade.

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May 02, 2011
Measure with care
by: Editor-Rich Bergman

Leveling the footings requires care and attention when you set the forms and when you pour the cement and set the post anchors. This assumes you are using a traditional under grade footing.

An easy way to verify level is to pick one of your footings as the reference point either as highest or lowest point with regard to the grade and where you want your finished deck so rest.

Have a partner hold a straight 2x6 or 2x8 at exactly your reference height and you take the other end and hold it above the footing to mark the top of the cement pour OR set the post anchor bottom at that desired elevation.

This is crucial that all surfaces that will support your beams are identical or your deck will not be level.

And it can be a bit more complicated still. You may wish to slope the deck away from the house at 2% or 1/4" per 12". Take this into account as you find the respective level points.

On another note, you may wish you use a floating deck footing system that save a lot of time and money and can perform very well but usually requires more footings per deck than larger concrete systems that cover more surface area.

The same concept applies. Each footing bracket has to be level with each other.

Also, we have developed a deck footing system that is very user friendly and was designed with your exact problem in mind.

How to get beams as close to the grade as safely possible and as secure over the long term as possible.

You can drop beams as low as 2" above the grade if you want as in this picture.

Joists hung from beams

You can learn more here.

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