A deck is a functional and beautiful addition to any house, but can be deadly if not built properly by local contractors. We have heard many stories of decks collapsing with people on them resulting in deaths but much more often there are life changing injuries. So a deck – especially a deck high off the ground – should never be built with anything but high quality workmanship and materials.
A properly built deck is one which has a sturdy foundation. Each of the posts which hold up the deck must be attached to firm ground. Here in New England, because of the freezing and thawing that occurs every winter and spring, code requires that the footings or foundation for the posts reach 48 inches in depth. The best foundation or footing consists of concrete poured into a “bigfoot” form. It received this name because the bottom of the form flares out considerably, giving it a solid wide base. This provides great lateral stability to a deck and a very solid foundation which is unaffected by frost heave ground movement.
The posts should be thick enough and close enough to each other to support the full load of the deck and more. If the posts are too thin or too far apart (one of the simplest ways to lower building costs), then over time, the extra weight will cause the deck to sag and then collapse.
The beams of a deck should be thick enough, measuring either 2×10 or 2×12, in order to adequately support the whole span. The beams should also be close enough – typically 16 inches on center — to support the deck floorboards.
Typically, if the support beams are too far apart, there is a “bounce” in the deck flooring and with time the flooring can start to sag between the support beams causing all kinds of tripping issues and eventually cracking and breaking.
The best practice for attaching a deck to the house is by bolting the ledger board to the house. In the photo you see that the ledger board was not only nailed to the home but they nailed it OVER the existing clapboard siding! This is just an absolutely shoddy, horrendously bad, and dangerous building practice. Again, nails are much cheaper than bolts and take much less time to install so it’s an easy way to cut expenses and low ball an estimate or pad the wallet. Bolts provide a far more secure attachment than nails ever would. A deck which has been bolted will not pull away from the house as one which has simply been nailed. We take it a step further and use special bolts designed for sea coast exposure when working on waterfront or water view decks.
If you are looking to replace or build a new deck, do not accept the cheapest bid — hire a reputable decking contractor. The dangers that lurk are too great to take that risk. Get an estimate that spells out the materials that will be used to build your deck. Then make sure that the materials used in the construction of the deck matches what the estimate and bill states. Just keep this in mind each and every time you are hiring local contractors to work on your property: Hire based on quality — not price.
Innovation Construction Co has never, in the 34+ years we have been building in Plymouth MA and the surrounding communities , taken such short cuts. We always build on quality. We pride ourselves in driving by our past clients homes and seeing our work proudly standing the test of time. If you looking to hire based on quality we are available to discuss your deck designs and give you a free estimate for a well built, high quality, and most of all — safe — deck .
Chuckle of the day:
Two simple carpenters were working on a house. The one who was nailing down siding would reach into his nail pouch, pull out a nail and either toss it over his shoulder or nail it in.
The other, figuring this was worth looking into, asked, “Why are you throwing those nails away?”
The first explained, “If I pull a nail out of my pouch and it’s pointed toward me, I throw it away ’cause it’s defective. If it’s pointed toward the house, then I nail it in!”
The second simpleton got completely upset and yelled, “You moron! The nails pointed toward you aren’t defective! They’re for the other side of the house!”