When the summertime approaches, the best place to spend the beautiful, sunny days is on the deck cooking barbecue with your family and friends. Many great memories are made on the family deck, which is why more and more families are opting to have them added to their homes.
Not only is adding a deck to your home great for having fun, but it’ll do wonders for your home’s value. Deciding on the site and the size, as well as what you are going to use it for, are all things that you have to consider when thinking about the addition. While many decks do have footings, does that mean each and every kind of deck requires footings? Not necessarily.
What are footings?
For those who don’t know what footings are, they are an important component during deck construction because they provide the foundation that will support your deck. Large decks that are attached to the house should always have footings because they act to spread the heavy load of the deck from the surface of a support post over a large surface of the soil so the ground can adequately support it.
Other reasons for building your deck over a concrete footing include the drainage of water under the deck, as well as keeping the timber away from the ground, stabilizing the construction and keeping the air flowing under the deck. In general, a deck footing is usually used if it is going to be higher than your waist or larger than 100 square feet. The footings ensure that the deck will not fall, tip or rot away after a few years.
Footings are especially important in areas that have troublesome soils because it helps keep the foundation set and prevents it from settling. Footings also have to be set lower than the frost line so that it can prevent the deck from moving when the soil freezes during the winter.
Does a deck require footings?
As mentioned before, it’s always a great idea to have your large decks supported by footings so that it doesn’t get destroyed after you spent a lot of money building it. But this rule only really applies to large decks because smaller decks that are a few inches off of the ground can sit securely on concrete blocks, which should be reinforced with some rebar.
When it comes to floating decks, which are decks that are built very close to the ground, they don’t need any sort of footing. You can either use small concrete blocks and planks, or you can use a post that sets into a pre-formed hole.
Building your dream deck without footings
Now that we know that footings aren’t necessary when building smaller decks close to the ground, it’s essential to understand what you can use in place of footers that will save you time and effort. Obviously, you need to grade a flat spot for the deck so that it sits evenly. Instead of using footings, adding a level of gravel will give you the drainage aspect you are looking for. You can then add a frame of wood that anchors in concrete blocks that sit in the gravel, creating your new deck. Concrete blocks won’t rot, making them an ideal option for those who don’t want to use wood.
Putting a wooden deck surface over a concrete slab will allow the deck to stay stable without the usage of footings. By doing this, you’re going to want to install sleepers, which are pieces of pressure-treated lumber, into the concrete so the deck has something to attach to. You can also combine this method with the gravel one, where the wood sleepers are laid on the gravel (must have a layer of sand below it) which will provide extra drainage. By nailing the deck to them, your deck will be completed easily.
If these options aren’t appealing to you and you still like the idea of footings, then plastic piers may be the route for you to go. They are concrete forms that are buried so that your deck has something stable to sit on. Plastic piers require the digging, but unlike footings, there is no concrete involved. The pier is put into the hole and attached the post, giving you your deck without wasting hours installing footings.
Other cheaper and quicker options to replace footings
If you’re in the market for a freestanding or floating deck, you’re going to want to pay extra attention to this part. If it’s 6 feet or less with a proper post to beam and joist bracing, then you can install a floating deck without the hassle of having to install concrete footings.
One of the cheapest options out there is deck blocks, which are blocks that literally sit on the ground and provide the foundation for your deck. They will save you a good chunk of change, but you should be sure to buy more than enough so you have plenty of support for your deck. The last thing you want is an uneven deck that begins to sink into the ground. Deck blocks come in two different types. The first one has an indentation in the top for a 4 x 4 post, and the other has a cross-shaped indentation that supports beams with no post. The biggest you’ll ever see a deck block is about seven inches, which is why they’re a great option for decks so close to the ground. The blocks that support the 4 x 4 post will allow you to build higher, so depending on how high or low you want your deck to be, it’s important to do your homework on both types of blocks.
While ground anchored spikes are commonly used for fence posts, some of them use modified load plates and are an ideal option for your deck foundation. Like the deck blocks, these spikes are quite cheap, and they prove more lateral strength than the deck block footing. Installation of the spikes requires either a sledgehammer or jackhammer, so it’s best to let a professional do it so you don’t risk bending or breaking them. It may seem like a hassle to have to call someone in, but the strength of your deck foundation is important, and this is a great option to consider.
Ground screw and anchor footings are an extremely easy option that is ideal for these kinds of decks. The installation is extremely easy, and you will never experience kickbacks. If you hit a rock or something solid along the way, they can be easily reversed and moved somewhere else. Whatever you decide to choose for your deck, just remember that there are several options out there for you to choose from.
Whether you’re looking to install a large or small deck to your home, it’s best to call a professional contractor who can come and take a look at soil conditions and determine the size and depth of your footings. The dimension of footings depends on the size and structure that is being built, and the placement of the several options listed above is crucial to giving the deck the support it needs.
If you’re ready to get started on your dream deck, it’s time to give Tandem Contracting a call. Contact us about what you want to accomplish and what your goals are for the project. We’ll help you decide which foundation is best for your deck, as well as the type of deck that will work best with your home. Give us a call at 973-864-3100 or fill out our online contact form to tell us about your project.