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  • Deck post, in ground or on a pier?

    Ok, wife and I are about to rebuild our front porch, 8' deep x 10' long x 26" off the ground and a new deck on the back of the house, 16' deep x 36' long x 26" off the ground. Both decks are free standing. I had several designs done by local home centers and building supply, all based on specific parameters. All came back with the same design of putting a 4 x 4 post in the ground 3' and pouring concrete in the hole around the post. My question is, should I do this or should I pour a pier about 6" out of the ground and connect the post to the pier?

  • #2
    Re: Deck post, in ground or on a pier?

    it some what depends on how the posts or the deck is stabilized, the posts in the ground help stabilized or support the deck from side ways movement, If one uses the pier then some kind of bracing may be needed,

    It is some what like a pole building the posts in the earth is part of the system, If the proper treated lumber is used, the posts should resist rot and decay for many many years,

    (personally like the pier system, but I would most likely use two flat steel irons with some holes in the bottom of them with a re-bar though them and have a place to bolt a post to, so the wood is not in contact with the soil, and is still supported by the earth, and not just setting on a pier, or a stud or pin type fastener,
    some thing like this web site has, New Post-Frame Building Foundation Options :: Precast Concrete Piers & Posts

    or make a concrete post/pier that goes to the bottom of the deck, 26" is not that tall,

    I have about 6 miles of barbed wire fences, (that is about 1000 posts), and my dad and I have been sold life time posts by many different vendors, over the years, and the thing is they all rot off in time, they most likely will last as along as the "deck" is safe, but I my self do no like to see wood in contact with earth,

    even electrical poles and RR ties rot off and need replacement, in time, and there have been treated a good as any product has been treated and many times with chemicals that are much stronger than what is allowed to be used in general construction,

    (If using Stainless steel bolts, use a "never seize" compound on the threads),

    I would suggest to use treated lumber on all framing, Us Stainless steel fasteners, as the treatment will eat up the black steel fasteners in time, if you use double dipped galvanized it may hold up, the light electro plated galvanized is usually not enough.

    When working with treated lumber wear respirator or dust mask when sawing, and gloves.

    That is my opinion
    Push sticks/blocks Save Fingers
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    • #3
      Re: Deck post, in ground or on a pier?

      dig hole, insert sono tube, pour concrete to fill sono tube, concrete should come at least a few inches above grade. put post holder (simpson probably makes some, certainly your neighborhood big box will have them) in wet concrete, allow to cure, insert post and nail in with teco's, lop off at the height you want.
      This is my reminder to myself that no good will ever come from discussing politics or religion with anyone, ever.

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      • #4
        Re: Deck post, in ground or on a pier?

        Stainless steel screws and fasteners will leave stains on the wood, be careful where you decide to use them.
        We don't have preventative maintenance around here, we have CRISIS MANAGEMENT!

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        • #5
          Re: Deck post, in ground or on a pier?

          You are only 26" high, so I would do a concrete or paver patio instead of a deck do it once & be done. If you want a deck I would pour concrete piers & run steel beams or treated 2" x 12" 's across the piers for the joist to sit on. I would not put my posts in the ground they will rot off.

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          • #6
            Re: Deck post, in ground or on a pier?

            I agree on the paver patio. I did my own 20x16 for under 2000 bucks, I would never do a deck that low to the ground. I did get a discount on the pavers as my cousin owns a landscape biz. Cost me 400 for the labor and class 5 gravel from him to prep it. Its not to difficult.

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            • #7
              Re: Deck post, in ground or on a pier?

              I can't speak for today's building codes, but I can tell you what I did about 24 years ago, here in NY's Southern Tier.

              Here, we have frost and ice and that goes down a substantial depth. I believe the "frost line" is about 16", but frankly that may be off as I'm relying on memory and not taking the time to look it up. The soil is very rocky clay-like in this particular region.... it took me longer to dig the holes then it did to build the deck and a power auger was totally useless for that task. So I dug it with a long bar and used a "can" to scoop out the dirt, down to a depth of roughly 34 or so inches... as far as I can reach and scoop!

              Recommendations at the time were for either concrete poured into a "tube" and then put the 4 x 4 post properly fastened to the top of that, or to pour a "pad" of concrete at the bottom of the hole and place the post on that.

              But, I've seen such posts lifted by frost... but of course I don't know if they used a "tube" in those instances.

              So, what I did was dig the holes (14 of them... as my deck is 25' x 18' and 4 ft off the ground at the highest point.) and then put about 6 to 8 inches of "pea gravel at the bottom, place a flat stone on top of the gravel and then place my post on top of that.... "pluming" the post and then filling in around the sides with stones and dirt that I had removed from the hole.

              That deck has stood for all these years with the lousey NY winter weather, rain runoff and at times soggy ground. It is still absolutely level and uneffected by the weather or the massive maple tree that stands at one corner of the deck.

              Not sure if that meets any "codes" today though. The civil engineer neighbor who I had at the time gave me a hearty thumbs up for my constuction abilities though (even though I never asked his advice).

              Problem in your area though might me the soil conditions (sand?) or insects like carpenter ants and/or termites. My "wood" back then was treated and branded as "Wolmanized". I believe modern wood PT is a different and perhaps less "harmful".

              Whatever (if anything) it might be worth,

              CWS

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              • #8
                Re: Deck post, in ground or on a pier?

                I started building back East 50 Years ago. You have frost, I don't in My area here. Sona tube below frost l. Galvy post base at top. Anyone setting a post in the ground
                and pouring concrete around it is a HACK. Of course We're talking point load of a structure,not a fence post.
                I can build anything You want , if you draw a picture of it , on the back of a big enough check .

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                • #9
                  Re: Deck post, in ground or on a pier?

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                  • #10
                    Re: Deck post, in ground or on a pier?

                    Everyone, thanks for your responses. My only question is, my deck is free standing,do I need any kind of lateral bracing if I do a post on pier? I do like CWS' idea. Forgot about that one. I have some time to make up my mind before going for permits, of course, the County may change my mind.

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                    • #11
                      Re: Deck post, in ground or on a pier?

                      Good construction techniques are an absolute MUST! Material sizing for load, needs to meet all the necessary criteria and really is as important as building any other type of wood structure, be it a deck or a house. "Loading" stresses need to be understood as well as the dynamic stresses of possible movement; that can be everything from weather (like frost, ice, snow, high winds, and even thirty people rock'in out the night at your future deck party.) For that reason, you will most likely find that your local county or municipality will have some pretty stringent "codes" in effect.

                      Of course, a lot depends on where you live and how watchful your local code folks are. In my area, "building permits" are required and, at least in Binghamton, the local building code people are going to want to see at least a minimum plan, perhaps inspect your ground before you start and then have you make arrangements at various stages of the project, for an inspection. Failure to do so may well cost you a fine and the destruction of your project... they cannot "OK" what you may have already buried under ground or covered up with surface decking (or in the case of a building: sheathing, etc.)

                      Point is that in today's climate of "liabilities", the building codes can be strict and "leniancy" is not something that can be considered. I'd check with the code folks well in advance of any building project that you are planning... if for no other reason, than just to pass some ideas in front of them to see what they think. It is best to know what your challenges are going to be, so that you can plan accordingly.

                      I hope this helps,

                      CWS
                      Last edited by CWSmith; 04-20-2012, 03:09 PM.

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                      • #12
                        Re: Deck post, in ground or on a pier?

                        Actually, I was going to post an update this weekend. I got my permit, no problem. Then I had to pay for inspections. Because I didn't want to build the front porch and the back deck at the same time, I paid for double footing inspections, double framing inspections and one final inspection. My choice. I called the inspector to ask a couple questions. He said that I only needed to dig the hole 12" in dia. and 20" deep. After he inspected 4 holes, I poured 6" concrete footings. After they set for a day, I set the posts on top then backfilled the holes. Last week, I completed the framing and passed that inspection as well. I spent the weekend putting the deck boards down and finishing the steps. For the first time in 11 months, i can use my front door again. Wife is very happy !

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                        • #13
                          Re: Deck post, in ground or on a pier?

                          Why did you ask for advice on the right way of doing this if you were just going to bury your wooden post in soil anyways?

                          The post should be sitting on an elevated post base, and the footing should reach above grade, no wood touching concrete, no wood touching soil.

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                          • #14
                            Re: Deck post, in ground or on a pier?

                            Originally posted by dlarrivee View Post
                            no wood touching concrete.......
                            Even treated lumber?

                            Museum_guy, what did you use to anchor the wood to the concrete? You at least used some post bases right? Just because an inspector says something is OK(they can and ARE wrong at times) does not make it OK to deviate from code. You need 6" from the soil/finished grade(including bark) to any wood portion of any wood structure, and anything touching concrete needs to be treated lumber, with cut ends been re-treated with more wood preservative. Building it wrong now, even though it passed inspection, can open the door for headaches 10+ years from now when you have dry rot and termites everywhere....
                            We don't have preventative maintenance around here, we have CRISIS MANAGEMENT!

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Deck post, in ground or on a pier?

                              IMO you met the "codes+inspection" but the deck posts should not have been buried. In my neck of the woods, treated lumber and landscape timbers last only a couple of years with ground contact.

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