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  1. #1
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    School me on deck building, SLC lumber yards

    To follow up on my concrete wall removal thread and all the worthy advice I received (even though I ignored all of it and am now beat to a pulp as a result), I'm looking for opinions on deck building.
    I have some ugly dead grass and concrete to hide and I want a nice place to house the grill, sit around with a beer and watch the garden grow.

    I'm in the planning stages for a 400-450 sq ft deck which would sit on the N end of the house and wrap around the E side a bit. I'm not concerned about the technical aspect of building the thing since I'm importing the workforce from France (my dad) and his skillset is unlimited when it comes to woodworking and construction. The budget however is somewhat limited (would love to keep it under $2.5k).

    Questions:

    The budget seems to exclude composite materials (Trex and co) which are horrendously pricey. Did I miss a brand that's not ridiculously overpriced compared to wood? Is composite worth it regardless of the price?

    I get the added cost of maintenance for wooden decks. I don't think renting a sander and re-applying a coat of something once a year will kill me if I do a wooden deck but are there major issues I'm missing with wood? The deck will be on the N side of the house, in SLC, half of it with no shade most of the day, exposed to snow, etc...

    Speaking of wood, I think I'd like to go with Western Cedar (maybe even Redwood) and do the structural underbelly with treated stuff. I don't really want treated stuff on top as I think it looks like crap and I understand it doesn't age as well. Opinions on cedar vs. redwood vs. treated stuff (pine)? As for cedar, knotty, clear, western, port orford, yellow alaskan, red?? Whatever I can find?
    Size-wise I'm looking at 12' boards in either 2x6 or 5/4x6. Am I gonna go through the deck if I use the skinny ones?

    Finally, at this point Google provides lots of lumber yards options but not too many prices. I'm curious if some of you guys who build a lot of stuff have a go-to place for lumber in the SLC valley that would be cheaper than Home Depot (probably not too hard)? I found a cheap place in Kaysville but they don't have 12' boards right now, I'll see if ordering is a possibility.

    Any other general advice? Things to do, avoid? Am I gonna die?

    I'll post picture of the finished awesomeness (or catastrophic failure) in the "shit you built with your own two hands" thread...

  2. #2
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    dont get composite for super hot locations (direct sun in the desert), it goes soft -- nobody likes sagging members

    western red cedar over PT is a great solution, prolly best value in tight knot -- do 2x (not 5/4) to keep normal 16" centers for framing
    if you want (almost) maintenance free, try ipe [you do pay for the privilege tho -- labor & matls]

    once you get reccos on local lumberyards (sorry can't help with that), shop your project materials list around and see who has the best price incl delivery

    you won't likely die, but post video if you do

  3. #3
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    Use Burton Lumber. They are local as opposed to Lowes or Home Depot.
    I have a redwood deck in Cottonwood Heights. It sees lots of snow on the west and north aspects. Used Solid color stain last fall and it is holding up tremendously.
    Click image for larger version. 

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    PM or Call SFB He will have info you you. skifishbum. Also Share what you learn in the built with my own 2 hands thread.

    Cheers CAT
    POWDER SKIER
    COLD RAIN and SNOW

  4. #4
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    SFB is a deck-master? I thought he was a PM-gear expert ski-renter... I'll shoot him a message.

    That deck of your looks rad, I'm glad mine is at ground level though, seems like much more of an engineering headache when it's floating 8' in the air.

  5. #5
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    It has been a decade since I built mine, but there was a simple cad program through home depot that helped with the planning and developing a work order. At the time I was adding a hot tub (now disconnected) to the deck and I had to make sure it could support the weight. Still nice that when I have a party I know the deck is not going to give way if everyone is out on it. Surprised cedar and redwood are cheaper options than plastic.

  6. #6
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    x2 on not using composite on a deck that sees sun. It sags and gets uncomfortably hot to the touch.

  7. #7
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    Not sure if you have to deal with any building permit or code enforcement issues for your project, but if so the IRC spells out most the requirements / issues, mainly in chapter 5.

    http://publicecodes.cyberregs.com/ic...2012/index.htm

  8. #8
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    If you're at ground level, why not pavers or concrete? I'm a carpenter, but almost always recommend these over wood.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by ctsmith View Post
    Not sure if you have to deal with any building permit or code enforcement issues for your project, but if so the IRC spells out most the requirements / issues, mainly in chapter 5.

    http://publicecodes.cyberregs.com/ic...2012/index.htm
    check your local jurisdiction for this -- a lot of times when you're building less than 30" off the ground, no permit is required


    Quote Originally Posted by panchosdad View Post
    If you're at ground level, why not pavers or concrete? I'm a carpenter, but almost always recommend these over wood.
    +1, simplify if you can (if it's appropriate)

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by panchosdad View Post
    If you're at ground level, why not pavers or concrete? I'm a carpenter, but almost always recommend these over wood.
    It would probably end up cheaper and not necessarily bad looking. I have stuff to cover though and pouring more concrete doesn't sound like fun, there's already too much of it around the house. Removing the existing junkshow to put something new in place would involve too much work I think.

    Good call on the permits, I'll need to check. Last think I need is a fine for building something without proper permission and these days it looks like you need to check with the city before you add a couple chairs to your living room...

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Boissal View Post
    It would probably end up cheaper and not necessarily bad looking. I have stuff to cover though and pouring more concrete doesn't sound like fun, there's already too much of it around the house. Removing the existing junkshow to put something new in place would involve too much work I think.
    gravel fill is your friend (ie don't excavate completely; a step up is not the end of the world)
    compact it
    then sand set pavers

    just an option for consideration

    (i still like the deck tho)

  12. #12
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    This is the shit I'm trying to cover up and the reason I was thinking of the deck in the first place. Basically the remains of a covered porch foundation which wraps around the house, half on the grass, half on the driveway. I could do pavers on the grass part, not too sure about the driveway. Deck would kill 2 birds with one stone.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    For those of you who like to geek out super hard on the planning phase, I've been using this free CAD drawing software called Sketchup. It's super intuitive and really helps me with visualizing the stuff I'm planning. Here's what the deck should look like if I'm as good as the software. Don't hate on the metric system.

    Click image for larger version. 

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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by acinpdx View Post
    gravel fill is your friend (ie don't excavate completely; a step up is not the end of the world)
    compact it
    then sand set pavers

    just an option for consideration

    (i still like the deck tho)
    About ten years ago when I was doing more construction back east everyone was moving to paver patios. I love a good deck, don't get me wrong. But spending a weekend pressure washing and staining every couple years doesn't sound like much fun. Pavers were also more attractive to potential buyers than decks, I don't know if that holds true out here in Utah though.

    If you need a hand some weekend I'd be down to help out. I've got saws and some tools, and I work for free beer.
    "The world is a very puzzling place. If you're not willing to be puzzled you just become a replica of someone else's mind." Chomsky

    "This system make of us slaves. Without dignity. Without depth. No? With a devil in our pocket. This incredible money in our pocket. This money. This shit. This nothing. This paper who have nothing inside." Jodorowsky

  14. #14
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    And, Boissal, holy shit, just noticed your avatar is Old Gregg, you sir, are officially awesome.
    "The world is a very puzzling place. If you're not willing to be puzzled you just become a replica of someone else's mind." Chomsky

    "This system make of us slaves. Without dignity. Without depth. No? With a devil in our pocket. This incredible money in our pocket. This money. This shit. This nothing. This paper who have nothing inside." Jodorowsky

  15. #15
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    HA! I'm Old Gregg!
    Thanks for the offer man, always appreciated. I think I got things covered with the old man who's bored out of his mind after finally completed the 20+ years project that is his house.
    Beer on the deck once it's done though!

  16. #16
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    So here's an interesting follow up on the deck story. Permits. They're required in SLC for pretty much anything and the process seems like a gigantic hassle (to say the least).
    I completely get the arguments for and against. Thoughts of the collective? Go through the process and get told to revise your plans 12 times because of obscure rules designed so you have to hire someone to do the job? Forgo the permit and build something that's as close to code as possible and pray for the best?

  17. #17
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    Unless your deck will be in plain view of a major road, there is ongoing construction near you, or you have spiteful neighbors I'd say skip the permit. Do try to do enough research to figure loads, spans, and lumber dimensions, and consider supporting the house end of the deck independently so that if you do wind up having to do a permit after the fact you don't have to figure in reinforcing the wall of the house the deck is attached to. The hardest thing to figure might be the size of the piers, but I imagine you can figure out everything from the internet if you take the time. Note that I'm speaking from my experience in a very high snow load area--315psf. This stuff may be less important in SLC. (My deck used to be grossly over spanned for the 4x8's on 2ft centers I have. I got tired of shovelling the deck so I hung a weighted line from the center of a joist and ending a 1/4 in above the ground--figured I would shovel when the weight hit the ground, which it never did.)

  18. #18
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    If they're required, get them. Believe it or not, it will save you headaches down the road. (if you were in a more rural setting, i might not be so certain, but i see your neighbor is quite close in the side yard)

    I suspect the deck framing itself is not so much at issue for "obscure rules" as much as where you are allowed to put it per the zoning regs (side setbacks look like your most likely candidate to review)

    Go down there and talk to a planner about the zoning and then see what their requirements actually are
    Hopefully you aren't in a design district or somesuch that requires any public process...

  19. #19
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    Boissal- Being so close to the ground for a wood deck is a serious future rot concern. Unless you dig out and fill with gravel, then make sure to ventilate well, you're going to have problems down the road. But with the sides all open, animals (skunks) will love their new condo.

    I would seriously go with pavers, even if it means building up to those lips with more concrete. I'd be surprised if pavers require a permit, too?
    Screw the net, Surf the backcountry!

  20. #20
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    some questions:
    -what height is your back door from grade? (ie how high will the deck be?)

    if its > 16", i think you'll be fine with wood, tho BD's comments re: rot are not off-base

    -do you really need to wrap the deck around the side? (it's only 4' wide (not really room to do much except store shit, especially at that length))

    you could simplify the whole thing by just going straight back from the house and no side extension, maybe just steps up from the side.
    i know that doesn't solve your cover-the-demo'ed-foundation issue, but you could dig that stuff out over time and return it to landscaping which is nicer to look at than a fence

  21. #21
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    I've laid down a bunch of flagstone at my mom's house over the years, building some steps and a patio. It's easy (but heavy) and requires almost no maintenance. Not a super clean suburban look, but has a certain rustic elegance.

    Click image for larger version. 

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  22. #22
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    Damn... that's nicer than the pros who did my patio ISBD.


    Another option, just rent a jackhammer and compressor. I took out a 20' x 24' 8" thick slab in less than a week. You could probably nuke that old foundation in a day, then you're all level and could easily do stone.
    Screw the net, Surf the backcountry!

  23. #23
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    Thanks for all the advice!
    Acinpdx and BigDaddy, I think you're right, I barely have room to use 2x8 joists and not have them touch the ground. The door threshold is 28cm from the grass, about 11"... I could half-ass my way out of this by using 2x6s and relying on the existing concrete footing to support even thinner joists... but between the rotting issues and the complete departure from code, I doubt it will work well. I'll get screwed in the end, the question being how long it will take for the screwing to occur.

    After spending the day being super pissed about it, I've started looking at the patio option. Seems like it might be cheaper in the end and pretty sweet looking with the advantage of being made of non-rotting stuff. I'm sure I can eventually dress the concrete area around the door with a stone veneer of sort (or really thin flagstones) and integrate that in the whole thing. I'll keep beating on the part on the side of the house, as you guys have pointed out it was purely for concealment purpose with no practical use. It seems like the concrete that's left in place isn't attached to the driveway or the foundation, just poured on top. I'll remove it piece by piece and haul it to the dump, I'm sure eventually I can get to the point where I can fill it in with dirt and plant some groundcover.

    So, school me on flagstone patio building? Dry install, I hate concrete. Depth of foundation in UT? 4" of gravel and 2" of sand? Any recommendation on where to get the stone? ISBD, that looks way nice! I'm all about the rustic look, this whole 1920s bungalow style is driving me nuts.
    Last edited by Boissal; 08-11-2014 at 10:31 PM.

  24. #24
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    School me on deck building, SLC lumber yards

    Lay a cement slab, add a flagstone overlay to it and then since it gets a good sun exposure build a badass pergola for some shade. More than you want to spend out the gates, maybe it's a 2 year plan...flagstone patio this year, pergola next year.
    Last edited by dtown; 08-11-2014 at 11:33 PM.

  25. #25
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    Pour a concrete step from the door.

    Compact the hell out of the gravel base and you will be very happy with flagstone or pavers. Rent a plate compactor. Remember to provide positive slope AWAY from the building 1/4"/ft absolute minimum so that water doesn't linger or worse subvert your foundation.

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