Opinions on Large Concrete Decks?

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We are building a new house and are considering building a 1000 SQ FT plus deck out of concrete. Several people have now made us worried when they tell us horror stories about cracking/ maintenance, etc. I just want some opinions.... If you have a concrete deck, do you like it? How maintainable is it? etc.
Much Thanks!
Jennifer
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On 15 Mar 2006 16:21:48 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

last 5000 years with very little maintenance. Just ask the Romans.
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It would be my opinion that there would be expansion and contraction which would have to be taken into account. otherwise am sure you could expect cracks to develope. Especially in that square footage.
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

If you pour a slab that big, you need to install expansion joints. I don't know the proper spacing of them, but they will help keep the slab from cracking. You will get some cracking, but nothing major. If you want to add to the looks of the deck, check out stamped concrete. It comes in many colors and patterns. The patterns will also help hide any cracking. It also is sealed which helps keep dirt from staining. I have a stamped patio (20' x 10') and it looks great. Ed
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

Take a walk in any big city. Take a look at some of the wide expanses of concrete. Are they in a condition you can live with? Yes, it is possible to crack, but properly poured, it can last a hundred maintenance free years. You need a proper base and expansion allowances. Just my opinion, but a large expanse of concrete can be rather blah. But stamped concrete, or flagstone, or some decorative touches can be very nice, very durable.
My deck is 8' off the ground and made of wood. Under the deck though, is a concrete patio that we use often and like a lot. In the 10 years or so that I've had it, no cracks and the only maintenance is to sweep it with a broom or blow away some snow.
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

Done right with the correct foundation (yes a slab has a foundation) the right design and materials for your area (it would be different in different areas) it will be very long lasting and trouble free. Make sure the contractor knows what you want and that you are willing to pay extra for the job done right. In this case it will mean better than the local codes require.
Better concrete mix. Better reinforcement Better foundation Quality finishing.
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That much concrete will push against your house, even with expansion joints.
If a basement leak develops - you'll need to cut through the concrete to get at the outside of the underground wall to fix it properly.
I like patio stones.
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Hogwild wrote:

Expansion joints are there to relieve stress from the concrete shrinking as it cures, not to stop pushing against the house, which makes no sense. Just look around, there are cement patios in back of lots of houses. How big they are has nothing to do with pushing against the house. Whether a patio extends 6ft fromt the house and runs 20 ft along the foundation or extends 20 feet and runs 50 feet along the foundation makes no difference to the house.
If the OP wants cement, I would definitely go with stamped concrete. A regular concrete deck, especially one that large, doesn't look attractive. Stamped concrete can be made to look like cobble stone, slate, brick, etc. and for the total job, is well worth the extra money. Make sure you check out the contractor. As for cracking, make sure the base is established correctly, compacted, and there are expansion cuts at least every 10 ft or less. Stamped concrete does need to be sealed about every 2 years to keep the finish looking nice.
Another alternative is pavers. They do have the advantage of not cracking, but have their own issues. Over the years, they can go out of level. And you do need to apply weed killer to keep weeds out. The advantages are no sealing, and you can redo the design, giving you some flexibility, and they are somewhat less expensive than stamped concrete.

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Have you ever been to a city? Philadelphia, New York, Boston, Chicago? Ever look at how much concrete is right up against how many thousands of houses? Not one has fallen down from lack of an expansion joint that I'm aware of.
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com writes:

I'm pretty sure something made of concrete would be a patio, not a deck.
Concrete will last a long time but it can crack or move. In most cases it can be fixed but it might be a big job.
Something made out of pavers will last almost forever. Any settling or cracked paver is easily fixed.
I had concrete, I replaced it with pavers. No regrets.
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Thank you, I was wondering if the OP was planning on some sort of prestressed support system to raise it up (a deck is raised, and Patio is in contact with the ground)

Better to do it right the first time.

No, it'll last less than concrete in general, but...

Yes, far more easilly than a patio.

The home I grew up in has a patio of about the size the OPs planning with no cracks at all after 40 years.
I'd go with a patio of concrete done well. Doing it myself, I'd go consider the pavers for the ease of maintenance, over the chance that I might not get the concrete good enough.
John
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snipped-for-privacy@westnet.poe.com writes:

Pavers are made of concrete. In what way would they fail?
I don't see movement in pavers as failure, but if concrete moves, I do consider that failure. Same with cracks.
The way I look at it, pavers last as long as you can get replacements. If you have a few extra pavers in storage, you could get hundreds of years out of pavers.
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Shift relative to each other.

I do. If it needs reapir, that's becuase it's failed.

Sure. I don't expect the pavers _themselves_ to fail, but the system is what's important.
I like stuff that you install once and then it last for generations without maintenance.
John
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snipped-for-privacy@westnet.poe.com writes:

Ok now I see, thanks.
This stuff:
http://mywebpages.comcast.net/despen/deck/patio-pavers.html
is never going to shift. It might sink or raise a bit, but it's locked together and can't move around.
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

settling and the concrete either cracking or settling so it slopes towrd the house. If I opted for concrete patio, I would opt for small slabs with expansion joints - if problems occur, you don't have to chop up the whole thing.
In Florida, with no freezing to worry about, we have two patios (old) and enlarged the space next to one using large concrete pavers, river rock and landscape cloth. Not too weedy, drains quickly, firm surface for grill, chairs, etc. Cheap. Easy to change.
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you people have no clue about construction.
"That much concrete will push against your house, even with expansion joints" "It would be my opinion that there would be expansion and contraction which would have to be taken into account. otherwise am sure you could expect cracks to develope. Especially in that square footage. "
"I would be concerned, especially for a new home, with the ground settling and the concrete either cracking or settling so it slopes towrd the house. If I opted for concrete patio, I would opt for small slabs with expansion joints - if problems occur, you don't have to chop up the whole thing. "
What do you people think the foundation is made out of...? This post really made me laugh. Thanks
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snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com wrote:

Yes, I thought the same thing. Reminds me of the old saying that it's better to remain silent and thought a fool, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt!
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There are actually two kinds of "joints" in flatwork. The one that is either sawed into the slab after curing, or troweled in during the pour controls where the slab will crack when it cures, or contracts and expands during temperature changes. The cuts or troweled joints make a deliberate weak point in the pour. The wire mesh embedded in the slab is there to hold the pieces together and (hopefully) keep any shifting to a minimum.
The other type of "joint" is to protect an adjacent structure from expansion of the slab, regardless of where it cracks. This is the asphaltic material that is inserted between the foundation and slab, for instance. As the slab expands, the joint can compress, saving the foundation or wall beyond.
Personally, I would be quite hesitant to pour a large slab against a foundation. . . even using the asphaltic expansion strips. As someone mentioned, a stone or concrete can get into voids in or below the strips and provide a direct pressure between the expanding slab and the foundation. In my own home, we had a large patio, but separated it from the foundation with a 12" strip of colored gravel. It looked decorative, and prevented any contact between the slab and foundation.
I also very strongly recommend that ANY slab poured against a foundation not be tied to it with rebar or wire if you live in frost country. The slab will get moisture under it, and when it freezes, it will heave upward. I had a neighbor who once told me his front door wouldn't open. When he and I took a closer look, his entire front area had been heaved about 2" upward by his front porch slab.
Mark
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snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net wrote:

The most recent concrete work I've seen was repairs to our seawall, and work done by a neighbor on their seawall. Expansion joints were a consideration in placing the new cap on the seawall.
Got a sidewalk out front with long spans between expansion joints, and cracks across the middle ... the expansion joints don't make a difference?
The OP mentions a new house, which suggests excavation and grading. If the ground has been dug and replaced, compacting the soil under the patio is not a consideration? Making sure there is a slight slope away from the house is not a consideration? Silly me :o)
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I am indeed talking about a concrete DECK, not a patio. The deck will be off the ground about 12 feet. We are having it engineered so that the deck will be well supported, I'm just worried about the appearance.
How far apart should the expansion joints be?
Thanks for all the advice!
Jennifer
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