Woodworker tries to build a deck #1: Design

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Blog entry by CodyC posted 10-05-2014 03:02 AM 2685 reads 0 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch
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Well, I’m usually fairly confident when I’m planning a new woodworking project…but there’s something about building a structure that attaches to my house that makes me a little nervous.

The plan is to build a low-profile deck/patio that should be flush with the slab of my existing covered porch. The porch is not very deep and there’s not a whole lot of space for us to sit and enjoy the fall weather in the back yard, so hopefully this will remedy that situation. There a few things that make me nervous and I would like to get feedback from some of you before I get started.

First, the drop from the existing slab to the ground is only about 6” so there will barely be room for 2×6’s for the framing and another 3/4”-1” for the deck boards to be flush with the slab. I plan to use pressure treated lumber for the framing, so do you think it would be an issue to the have the framing really close to the ground?

Another thing that makes me nervous is the fact that I plan to use Ipe or Cumaru for the deck boards, so I want to do some extra planning so I don’t waste too much material ($$$). Also, any tips about using PT in combination with Ipe/Cumaru would be greatly appreciated.

The main topic where I’d like to get some feedback from experts is the framing layout and deck board layout. Do you think this layout is structurally sound…or is it overkill? Here is what I have so far…

Deck board layout:
 photo 1_zpsb5089c72.jpg

Framing w/ deck boards:
 photo 2_zps2564b87e.jpg

 photo 3_zps842f486c.jpg

Framing w/ deck boards overhead view:
 photo 4_zpseda03f4b.jpg

Actual space:
 photo 20141005_171839_zpsfc4d7ba1.jpg

-- Cody Crisp

4 comments so far

View stefang's profile


16053 posts in 3505 days

#1 posted 10-05-2014 12:48 PM

The impregnation preservatives being used today are great against decay caused by moisture, but not earth or vegetation. A relatively inexpensive way to get around this problem would be to dig out the area and fill it with gravel or alternatively use some kind of heavy membrane the allows water to pass through. This will keep the wood from contacting biological matter providing you have some way to drain/lead the water away. I did this about 12 years ago with about a 4” layer of gravel. Our excess water is taken away by a drain system at the bottom of our foundation. The only difficulty using this method is leveling the floor beams. It requires compressing your gravel sufficiently and leveling it. I just used my feet for this. There might well be better and easier solutions for this, but this has worked very well for me.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View DonB's profile


517 posts in 2863 days

#2 posted 10-05-2014 04:46 PM

I believe Stefang is correct. Also as your deck ages you need to ensure there is a space before the cement begins to keep water from draining towards your house as well as a small percent down grade away from the house. Heavy rain will run before it drains, so provide it a path.

-- DonB

View CodyC's profile


39 posts in 3600 days

#3 posted 10-05-2014 10:36 PM

The gravel sounds like a good idea. I’ve added one more photo at the bottom that shows the actual space, so hopefully that will give some perspective. You may have to click it to see the full photo. I also forgot to include the footings in the drawing but I was thinking about putting concrete piers at each corner and a couple in the middle for support.

-- Cody Crisp

View 2Dusty2's profile


44 posts in 1502 days

#4 posted 10-05-2014 11:20 PM

Ideally it would be best to lift the wooden deck off the ground with blocks. This would have the added benefit of spreading the weight and improving the chance of even settling. From your pics it doesn’t look like you have the vertical space for much more than your joists and decking as per your drawing. Gravel might be your best option as mentioned by some other posters. You might consider renting a compactor to harden the base up as much as possible.

-- Cheers

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