Taking outdoor living to new heights is a rewarding experience for homeowners whose elevated decks provide what amounts to an extra room that usually comes with a great view. These projects can be done in conjunction with home construction or renovation or as an add-on down the road.
However, it’s crucial to do the project right. Whereas some ground-level decks might not even require building permits or safety features such as railings, elevated decks are relatively complex undertakings that need to be done by the book to ensure safety.
It Starts at the Bottom
Elevated decks are only going to be as sturdy as their infrastructure, and standards differ across the country. Some municipalities require pressure-treated 4-by-4’s anchored below the frost line. Others allow for building onto concrete footings, but the size of those footings may vary by town. If there’s one component of the project where you’re going to want to be sure you exceed the minimum standards, this would be it.
And even if the project is undertaken long after the house was built, the deck needs to be firmly attached to the main structure. The further the deck is from ground level, the greater the risk of it eventually becoming unstable. Again, educate yourself on the minimum standards and be sure to exceed them.
Mostly Unseen but Still Important
The joists support the weight of the deck and everything on it. Placed too far apart, they will allow the deck floor to sag. Many reputable builders will tell customers that 2-by-8’s are sufficient for average-sized decks, but 2-by-10’s may become necessary once the square footage reaches a certain point.
Pressure-treated lumber is a must for the framing work, whether the local building code requires it or not because rain or snow will eventually take a toll. Taking it a step further, a lot of professional builders encase all of the supports in vinyl sheathing. Besides being beneficial to the structural integrity, the extra step enhances the look of the finished product.