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deepomega
Freestanding deck right next to house

I'm planning out a deck that's about a 16 by 10 foot rectangle. (I'll be angling off one corner of it but that's not important for the question.) I want it to be next to the house, but our house is old and a bit of a hassle from a surface standpoint - it's basically 90 year old wood siding with 3 coat stucco over it. In some places, the siding was removed first, in others it was just stucco'd right over. As a result, I'm hesitant to hang a ledger off of it. I might have to go through a couple inches of stucco, then wire, then siding, to be able to get a good structural connection between ledger and rim joist.

I'm thinking of just building it freestanding, right next to the house. It's a pretty small deck, so I'd only need 4 or 6 footings, probably about 18 inches from the wall on that side, cantilevering the joists. I'd run the joists along the short side of the deck.

My question is, one: is this structurally sound this close to the house? And two: should I run anything between the wood and the house as a "buffer" between the stucco and the wood? I'm in Los Angeles, and I'd be bummed if a small earthquake knocked the deck into the stucco and took off a chunk.

A. Spruce
Re: Freestanding deck right next to house

There is no reason that you can't build a freestanding deck that will survive quakes, just keep a minimum 1" clearance between your deck boards and framing, and the side of the house. This will keep leaves, dirt, and other debris from lodging between the structures and causing pest or rot problems.

dj1
Re: Freestanding deck right next to house

In your case a freestanding deck makes sense, as you explained.

Please remember when you design and plan the deck: the best way is to have your beams rest on the posts and tied down with Simpson post to Beam connectors. Go with 6 posts.

Also, remember that for 10' long joists, the maximum cantilever length is 2'6".

I've seen decks that were built using 2 2x attached to the posts on either side and secured with 2 7" long bolts, and the result was a weaker deck.

A. Spruce
Re: Freestanding deck right next to house

How much elevation change from ground surface to finished surface of deck?

HoustonRemodeler
Re: Freestanding deck right next to house

We normally build all of our decks as free standing units for several reasons;

1- Termites can't jump
2- Deter ants
3- Far easier house maintenance
4- The deck is considered "landscaping" and not taxed as living space
5- If the deck or house moves it doesn't take the other with it.

deepomega
Re: Freestanding deck right next to house

Thanks for the advice, all. My current plan is, beefy tall 6x6 posts that I'll turn into a pergola on top. I'll have those on four of the six footings, and notch them tightly to put in beams. Probably bolt through those to the posts to keep them in place, with a metal strap connecting the post to itself across the notch. The other posts will just be short and I'll run the beams on top of them, like you said - I don't trust two bolts to hold beams onto the sides of posts!

A. Spruce - It's about 30" from the ground to the floor of the house, and then maybe a 1/12 grade away from the house. That's all paved over, but very poorly (e.g. a long 20x15 or so L-shaped concrete section that has no expansion gaps and is only 3" or so deep.) I think I'd rip out the worst of it, cut holes through the not-so-bad parts and augur down to pour footings, then repave everything since I have very expansive soil and there's no reason to leave that open to the elements under the deck.

dj1
Re: Freestanding deck right next to house

Just make sure you dig post holes to meet code in your city.

Other than that, it looks like you've got your ducks in order.

What lumber types will you be using?

deepomega
Re: Freestanding deck right next to house

Planning on two joined 2x10s for the beams (or 4x10 if I can find 'em), 2x8s for the joists. 6x6x12' posts on four of the footers, with a foot or so cut off each to make posts for the remaining two footers. (The tall posts will get turned into the pergola with more 2x10s and 2x8s about 8 feet above the deck's height.)

I'm leaning towards redwood for all of this, since it's a pretty small deck. May as well get something that'll last forever and looks like wood.

A. Spruce
Re: Freestanding deck right next to house

I would recommend poured footings with a wet set post base in the top of it to receive all your support posts. This isn't as structurally rigid as burying a post, but it saves the posts from pest and rot problems, you can build in your rigidity above ground with the pergola and other components.

IMHO, you should never sister 2x's together in an exterior environment, as this arrangement will hold moisture and promote rot. It is better to go with a 4x. As far as attaching to posts, you can simply notch the post slightly and then bolt the beam to it. There is nothing wrong with bolts, they can always be tightened, your primary strength will come from the notch anyway.

It is also better to use a few extra piers/posts, than to use large beams and lumber unnecessarily. You say you want to use redwood, this is fine for the finished deck and posts, but use pressure treated materials for the support framing of the deck, as they will be stronger than redwood and survive in the environment.

deepomega
Re: Freestanding deck right next to house

Thanks for the suggestions! As I'm mapping this out a bit better, looks like I'll need a few more footings and posts anyway to support the diagonal line. I was planning on doing wet set post bases, so glad you agree this is a good fix. Especially with a pretty short deck, and with a history of termites in this neighborhood and house, I figure anything that raises wood up off the soil is gonna be worth the structural tradeoff.

ed21
Re: Freestanding deck right next to house

Check with local building department, they often have deck building recommendations. In your case any requirements especially for seismic resistance.

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