Installing Deck Supports
LESLIE: John in Pennsylvania needs some help with a decking project. What’s going on at your money pit?JOHN: Yes, what I have is a 12×20 deck which is secured to the house. It’s about 12 feet off the ground where’s it’s – it’s an in-process situation. We just have temporary supports at the front end.TOM: OK.JOHN: And what I have down on the ground, provisions for three posts which will be 6×6. We have the concrete pad support; they’re two-foot square and they are about five inches thick.TOM: (overlapping voices) OK.JOHN: So what we were going to do was just run the 6×6 post down to the pad and we’ve since changed our minds. We’re thinking that it would probably be a good idea to extend that concrete up above ground level.TOM: Well, you can do that. You know what I would do is I would get a Sonotube. Do you know what that is?JOHN: Is that called a Bigfoot?LESLIE: No, a Sonotube is almost like a giant cardboard paper towel tube. You know?TOM: (chuckling) Yeah, that’s what it looks like. Yeah.LESLIE: That’s best way to describe it. And those are used – I mean that’s basically an insert that goes into the ground, correct?TOM: Yes.LESLIE: And then you fill with concrete.LESLIE: Yeah, and so you could – you know, you could cut them to – if you’re already – like let’s say you have five inches down there.JOHN: Right.TOM: You could probably cut one that’s about two-and-a-half foot or so …JOHN: Sure.TOM: … or even three foot and have it come up above grade by about six inches. And make sure that you – the best thing is to try to connect it to the slab that’s down below but, if you can’t, I’d just break out the old slab if it’s only five inches and then go with one that’s three, three-and-a-half foot. Set it in there. You can backfill around it – you don’t actually have to remove this when you’re done – and then go ahead and pour the concrete inside the tube and then you can set your post right on top of it. And make sure you bolt the post. Use a post dog (ph), which is like a special bracket that secures the post to the bottom of the footing, and then go up from there.Make sure you get a building permit here, though, and make sure you get it inspected by the local code enforcement authority because we hear a lot of horror stories every year about decks that are not built correctly or wear unexpectedly and then they collapse. So it’s real important you get this done right. The attachment points to the house are critical …LESLIE: Properly flashed.TOM: … the span is critical. So make sure you have some professional advice here that you get it done right.JOHN: Alrighty, thank you very much.TOM: Well, you’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.