Monday, December 4, 2023

Deck Blocks Vs Concrete Footings

Best Concrete Mix For Footings Concrete Footing Blocks For Decks

Deck Footing Options

Concrete footing blocks for decks are basic building elements that snap together to create structures. They resemble childrens toys in appearance. The severely concentrated weights at the bottom of wooden deck posts are meant to be dispersed into firm soil by means of these techniques. They have several advantages and disadvantages and are only one choice for supporting deck weight.

How Far Apart Should Concrete Deck Blocks Be

The deck blocks might end up being 6 or 8 feet apart. Theres no hard-and-fast rule. A residential structural engineer has the training and skills to determine the spacing. If youre in doubt, invest the money and hire the services of a professional like this who can provide a simple plan showing you how and where to place the concrete pier blocks.

Find A Place With Good Condition

Yes, you can build a deck without digging holes. Its usually a bad idea, though.

If the conditions where youre building are just right, you can safely build a long-lasting deck on precast concrete piers sitting on top of the ground, but its rare to find a place with all the right conditions.

If your region experiences below-freezing temperatures, you need footings that are deeper than the frost levels. A no-hole deck base could result in a structurally unsound deck because of frost heaves.

If your soil isnt ideal, above-ground footings will sink and shift, and the work you put into building a deck will be wasted.

Likely, the city or subdivision you live in will have written codes concerning fence construction, and usually, theyll require traditional footings that require you to dig holes.

Melanie Musson

Melanie Musson is a home insurance editor with the insurance comparison site,

Jen Stark

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Ground Level Deck Footings Options

So, youve decided to take on that your wife has been hassling you about for what feels like forever, and youre ready to get started. You want to build a ground level deck, but youre not quite sure how to get started. What ground level deck footing options are out there, and which one is right for your deck plan?

In this article, well present all of the deck footing options that are available for ground-level decks and provide you with the pros and cons for each to help you decide which is best for your deck plan, budget, and skill level.

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Learn About The Various Types Of Deck Footings That Help Spread Point Loads Over A Wider Area

Deck concrete footings vs blocks

With the exception of solid rock, no soil type can hold a point load for long without some settling. Thats why all types of foundations have thickened weight-bearing supportscalled footingsat their base to help spread point loads over a larger area. Depending on climate conditions, footings may be very close to the surface or may need to be deeply buried 4 ft. or more to get below frost level. If you live in a mild climate, your footings may be on the surface or only need to be buried a little, and you may be able to start your deck-post framing right from the footing itself by buying a simple one piece block . But if your footings need to be deeper than about 12 in., youll need to add a concrete column or a buried post to get to above-ground levels. If you have any doubt about the right foundation for the conditions, consult an engineer.

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How Are Post Holes Used For Construction

A deep hole is dug in the ground as a starting point to install post holes. The authority in your region determines the depth of the hole.

The height depends on the frost line, which varies from place to place. Also, you can use a power auger for making the holes which should generally be six inches deeper than the frost line.

Concrete footer tubes are placed inside the holes and filled with concrete. Another material, Sika post fix- expandable foam, can also be used.

The posts should be attached above the ground because they can break inside the concrete.

Can Concrete Footing Blocks Support A Lot Of Weight

Given that a concrete footing block typically has a footprint of 12 by 12 inches, it can hold a sizable amount of weight. 144 square inches make up this. An architect or engineer may specify a deck pier footing with a typical diameter of 20 or 24 inches. As a result, the 20-inch footing has 314 square inches of bearing on the soil, whereas the 24-inch footing has 452 square inches.

The majority of homeowners neglect to consider the soils ability to support the weight of the deck. The main issue you should be thinking about is that. Your local building inspector should be quite knowledgeable about the soils in all the communities they evaluate, so they can provide you with a wealth of information.

Poor soil is frequently easy to spot. The worst soil is topsoil since it has a lot of organic matter and air. These two qualities imply that topsoil is compressible. When you build on the soil, you dont want any compression to occur. If the earth smells like a swamp as you dig, that is also a poor indication. There is probably a lot of decaying organic matter in the soil.

A layer of hard clay or potentially a mix of sand and gravel that Mother Nature has compressed over thousands of years is sometimes encountered while digging below the topsoil. Many times, thousands of pounds per square foot can be supported by these soils.

The amount of weight that pier blocks can support is constrained by their limited bearing surface.

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Option #: Build A Deck Without Digging Holes Using Post Anchors

A post anchor is a bracket designed to hold a post with flanges underneath. Instead of digging, the flanges are driven into the ground by hammering on a bit inserted into the bracket with a sledge or a jackhammer. The post is then inserted into the bracket and held in place with screws. Post anchors make it easy to install a fence post without cement or other types of anchoring. Another huge advantage of post anchors is that they can help keep your fence posts from rotting by protecting the wood from direct, constant contact with damp soil. On their own, these are suitable anchors for a fence or a light structure like an arbor.

When theyre driven through a base plate and pounded into the soil with a jackhammer, they make a suitable foundation for a heavier structure like a deck, and are a little more secure than deck blocks. The anchor is in the ground instead of resting on top of it, and if driven in with a jackhammer, the compressed earth beneath the foundation plate will help keep them from shifting.

The first and most noticeable advantage of using post anchors rather than deck blocks is that the post is fixed firmly in place without needing additional cross pieces. Being tied to the ground instead of resting on top of it will keep the post in place during construction and will make building the deck a lot easier.

Can You Build A Deck Without Footings

Solving Several Problems at Once – Titan Deck Foot

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 itll do wonders for your homes 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.

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When To Use Deck Concrete Footing Blocks & How To Do It

There are inconsistent regulations across the country about how to attach the deck support post to the concrete footing blocks. Since there is often no physical connection between the post and block, they may not be permitted in some areas with strong winds and worries about uplift pressures.

We dont want the post to be kicked out when subjected to lateral forces, like when a post is struck by a lawnmower. As a result, lateral restraint at the base of a post is required by building codes. Although concrete lugs that surround the post are frequently protruding on pier blocks, it is questionable if these lugs are strong enough.

In general, low or ground-level decks are most suited for pier blocks because smaller construction materials are more prevalent and extra posts and blocks wont look out of place there. Ground-level decks also pose less of a risk for post uplift and lateral stresses.

Poured Concrete Deck Foundations

Poured concrete foundations are installed by first digging boreholes into which concrete will be poured. The number of foundations, their diameter, and placement will be job-dependent as each building site has unique characteristics. Once all of the foundation holes are bored out to the appropriate diameter and depth, and their locations are confirmed, concrete is mixed and poured into the holes. Saddle brackets are then cast into the wet concrete which will become the mounting points for the deck posts.

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Are Deck Blocks Better Than Concrete Footings

Using concrete for buildings and different structures is an old practice. Walking by a construction site, you can always see mixing trucks combining water and cement to form concrete.

Even with ambitious people who take on passion projects like deciding to build decks for themselves, the usual convention has been to use concrete piers and footings.

With the introduction of deck blocks, there has been much debate over what to choose in such matters.

Before you decide which one is better among the two, it is essential to know what the terms stand for to get a clearer picture.

Cons Of Concrete Footings

Deck Blocks Vs Concrete Footings: Which One Is Best?
  • The process takes too much time.
  • Once any damage occurs, theres not much to be done about it.
  • Requires more than one person to finish the job.
  • More expensive.
  • It takes more time to wait for the concrete to dry and set.
  • This shows that there are two cases where one has the upper hand over the other:

    If you want to create something permanent and heavy requiring more support, go with concrete footings.

    On the other hand, if you want a cheaper, temporary, DIY plan, then deck blocks are the ones for you.

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    How Much Weight Can A Concrete Deck Block Hold

    A concrete deck block can support quite a bit of weight as it normally has a footprint of 12 x 12 inches. This is 144 square inches. A typical deck pier footing that might be specified by an architect or engineer might be 20 or 24 inches in diameter. Thus, the 20-inch footing creates 314 square inches of bearing and the 24-inch footing has 452 square inches of bearing on the soil.

    Most homeowners dont take into consideration the bearing capacity of the soil upon which the deck will rest. Thats the most important thing you should be concerned with. Your local building inspector can offer you lots of insight as he/she should be very familiar with the soils in all the neighborhoods he/she inspects.

    Poor soil can often be easily identified. Topsoil is the worst as it contains lots of organic material and air. Both of these characteristics mean topsoil is compressible. You dont want the soil to compress at all when you build on it. As you dig, if the soil smells like a swamp, thats also a bad sign. The soil probably contains lots of rotting organic material.

    When you dig below the topsoil, you often hit a layer of dense clay or possibly a sandy gravel mix that Mother Nature has compacted for thousands of years. These soils can often support several thousands of pounds per square foot.

    The small bearing area of a pier block limits how much load they can support.

    Why Choose Concrete Footings

    Concrete footings are used everywhere in construction, showing how much support they can provide to a structure. They offer excellent stability and can handle a lot of weight.

    As cement is feasible to get, there can never be a shortage of concrete.

    Compared to deck blocks which are still new, concrete footings have been in use for ages, and workers know exactly how to use them. It prevents any faults made by the crew and ensures a smooth work environment.

    The concrete is poured on-site, which prevents defects that are usually a problem in the case of deck blocks, carried to the site after manufacturing.

    Concrete footings have a wide range of usages. Any building you want to construct, pergolas, tall structures, etc., will have a layer of concrete foundation to get you a formidable base.

    Even though it is suitable for different cases, there are instances where you can face problems:

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    Here Are Your Options:

    Precast concrete deck blocks are popular for building decks. Some are made with notches designed to hold standard-sized posts, beams and joists.

    Precast blocks available at home improvement centers are usually 12 inches square and 8 to 12 inches high. Simply placing them on the ground or on a poured concrete pad a few inches deep usually isnt enough to comply with codes they must be set at least 12 inches deep in undisturbed soil. However, concrete deck blocks can be used without restriction for a freestanding deck thats not attached to your house.

    Concrete Footing Blocks For Deck: What Are They

    How to Build Deck Footings with QUIKRETE®

    In many aspects, a block is merely a precast foundation, a sort of foundation approved by building codes. Despite not being cast in place, they are nonetheless subject to all of the same criteria as a normal footing with the same concrete mix used. They must be at least 12 inches below grade, or below the local frost depth, and have a suitable bearing area . They cannot, however, just be put in a grade level elevation.

    Concrete deck blocks are really simple and resemble the cap on an inexpensive ballpoint pen. The concrete pier block has space inside for a wooden support post for a deck. The blocks concrete lugs function like the sidewalls of a pen cap. You can raise a deck off the blocks just as you pull on the lid to reveal the pen.

    It takes a simple and efficient way to deck support.

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    When & How To Use Concrete Deck Blocks

    The connection of the deck support post to the blocks is not consistently regulated throughout the country. Some regions with high winds and concerns of uplift forces may not approve them, as there is typically no physical connection between the post and block. For lateral forces, like a post getting hit with a lawn mower, we dont want the post kicked out. Therefore, building codes require lateral restraint at the base of a post. While pier blocks commonly have protruding concrete lugs that surround the post, there is only opinion as to whether they are of sufficient strength.

    Overall, pier blocks are best suited for low- or ground-level decks, where smaller framing materials are common and additional posts and blocks are not an eyesore. Uplift and lateral forces on the posts are also of less concern in ground-level decks.

    When Should They Be Used

    Deck blocks are generally a more temporary simpler type of foundation for free standing or floating structures and used when below grade concrete piers arent needed, wanted or an option.

    • The blocks are frequently used where mixing concrete is difficult to use or transport.
    • They should not be used if you are attaching to a permanent structure that has frost protection\requirements.
    • They generally shouldnt be used if you are in a high wind or high uplift situations.
    • They arent normally allowed for residential structures for habitation.

    Its best to check with your local building code office to see if theyre allowed for your type of structure. Some areas may additionally require the use of auger type tie downs that are like a metal screw that goes into the ground then fasten to structural framing members.

    There are other types of ground anchors like used for Mobile Homes etc. They will add lateral support and inhibit uplift in stormy or high wind situations.

    How much are Deck Blocks and where do I get them?

    They vary in price from $4 to $6 depending on location. They are found at most big box home stores or check your local hardware store.

    How big are deck blocks?

    The block size will vary according to the manufacturer, but they are generally 10-11 square and 7-8 high.Weight 48 lbs.

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    The Size And Layout Of Your Deck Footings

    Size and layout are two extremely important aspects youll need to consider before deciding on what deck footings youll want.

    • The footings’ size will determine how much weight your entire structure can sustain. If you have a larger deck than usual, you’ll want your footings, posts, and frame to be reliable and strong enough to sustain the entire weight.
    • The Layout will determine the ideal places to install the footings. It’s important to have the right layout because you’ll want every part of your new deck to be ensured with at least a post.

    Outdoor spaces, like decks and other permanent structures, require a lot of knowledge of the local building codes and regulations.

    At Deck Bros, we take care of the building permit for you, and you wont have to worry about your deck design, deck framing, or deck hardware. Well make sure your deck is up to the highest standards, and the local building department inspections are successful.

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