Something to consider when building a deck where it snows...

Everytime I shovel the snow off of my deck, I keep (mentally) kicking myself for not including a removable section of railing. I swear that if I ever replace the railing I will add that feature.
My deck is about 6 feet off the ground. Access to the deck from the ground is via stairs to a landing, then a left hand turn onto the deck.
To shovel the deck (for the dogs, for grilling, for access to the back yard, etc.) I have to lift the snow and throw it over the railing. If I had a removable section, or even a gate, I could just push the snow off and eliminate the lifting.
The current design of the railing precludes the installation of a gate or a removable section.
One of these days...one of these days.
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Unless you have concrete for snow, can't you just push it over the edge of the deck between the vertical railing supports. Railing supports/stiles only have to be 4.00 inches apart or less where I live (so little kids can't get their heads or other body parts through) and the snow pushes between the stiles without a great amount of effort.
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On Mar 14, 3:04 pm, " snipped-for-privacy@sbcglobal.net"

e quoted text -

Have you ever tried to push 6" - 12" of snow through the openings between the stiles of a deck railing? It's really not that easy...trust me, I've been shoveling this deck for over 20 years. Besides, not only are my balusters closer together than 4", my railing has a horizontal 2 x 4 that sits 1.5 inches off of the deck. The railing kind sits on the deck itself so there is even about an inch of deck on the outside of the railing.
There's no way to efficiently push the snow through this railing.
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On Thu, 14 Mar 2013 13:42:59 -0700 (PDT), DerbyDad03

Why dont you just make a removable section. It's either put together with decking screws or nails. Remove the screws, or pull the nails. If the nails cant be removed without damaging the wood, get a sawsall with a metal cutting blade and cut the nails where the railing section attaches to the posts. Then put a strip of wood on each side of the railing (on the posts), so you can lift the section out, or just lift it enough to allow pushing the snow under it. and/or use L-brackets with a few lag bolts, or hinges, etc. Nothing made of wood is permanent, and modifying it should not be all that hard.
I know a bar and community center building that has a large deck in back, where people sit at tables under a canopy. Every summer, they have a weekend concert. The bands play on that deck, and they put benches made from straw bales and 2x10 planks for seating on the lawn. They did exactly what I'm telling you. They have the railings with a wood strip on each side (attached to the posts). The railings are lifted up and removed when they use that deck as a stage. The whole concept is very simple.
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On Thu, 14 Mar 2013 12:04:09 -0700 (PDT), " snipped-for-privacy@sbcglobal.net"

Wet snow won't go through - and is heavy to throw. I have an electric snowthrower that only gets used on the deck.
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On 3/14/2013 11:33 AM, DerbyDad03 wrote:

isn't there an opening where the stairs attach?
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On Thursday, March 14, 2013 2:33:00 PM UTC-4, DerbyDad03 wrote:

elf for not including a removable section of railing. I swear that if I eve r replace the railing I will add that feature. My deck is about 6 feet off the ground. Access to the deck from the ground is via stairs to a landing, then a left hand turn onto the deck. To shovel the deck (for the dogs, for grilling, for access to the back yard, etc.) I have to lift the snow and th row it over the railing. If I had a removable section, or even a gate, I co uld just push the snow off and eliminate the lifting. The current design of the railing precludes the installation of a gate or a removable section. O ne of these days...one of these days.
Build your deck railing with both a bottom and top rail with the balusters between them and a gap of 4 inches or so under the bottom rail.
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yself for not including a removable section of railing. I swear that if I e ver replace the railing I will add that feature. My deck is about 6 feet of f the ground. Access to the deck from the ground is via stairs to a landing , then a left hand turn onto the deck. To shovel the deck (for the dogs, fo r grilling, for access to the back yard, etc.) I have to lift the snow and throw it over the railing. If I had a removable section, or even a gate, I could just push the snow off and eliminate the lifting. The current design of the railing precludes the installation of a gate or a removable section. One of these days...one of these days.

s between them and a gap of 4 inches or so under the bottom rail.
That is kind of what I have, except I only have 1.5 inches under the bottom rail.
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DerbyDad03;3030169 Wrote: >

> left hand turn onto the deck.
What's the area of the landing? Is it big enough to turn a small snowblower 90 degrees in?
You see, I keep my 5 hp Ariens snow blower in the basement boiler room of my building. I purchased it because it's design allowed me to install larger wheels on it without those larger wheels interfering with the scoop or anything. I can put up to 18 inch wheels on it without the wheels hitting either the scoop or the oil drain pipe on the side of the engine.
So, I have two pair of wheels for it; the regular 10 inch wheels that I use when blowing snow, and a pair of 14 inch diameter wheels I use for pulling that snow blower up the stairs to the main floor front lobby. Those 14 inch wheels make an otherwise impossible task not only doable, but actually quite easy if a tenant comes along and helps by pushing from below, even a female tenant. I just do one step at a time, and the stairs are wide enough to rest the snow blower on for a second before I do the next step. I have 7 steps that rise a total of about 4 1/2 feet in height.
So, if you're snow blower will allow it, consider purchasing a pair of larger wheels for it, and using them to pull your snow blower up the steps to the deck. Obviously, if you have a 13 hp snowblower that weighs 400 pounds, that option isn't available to you. Or, if the design of your snowblower doesn't allow putting larger wheels on it, you're up the creek too.
But, if you have a single stage or small two stage snow blower, look under "Wheels" in your Yellow Pages directory and phone around to find out who sells small wheels and casters. That place will carry a huge assortment of solid rubber and pneumatic wheels in all sizes. My 14 inch wheels have solid rubber tires on steel rims with 3/4 inch bearings. The bearings on the kind of wheels I have can be replaced to accomodate anything from a 1/2 inch to about a 1 inch diameter shaft, and most small wheels will come with replacable bearings for different size shafts.
And, I've been pulling first a (I'm guessing at least) 160 pound snow blower up that flight of stairs since I bought a Noma snow blower about 20 years ago, and the Ariens (at about 140 pounds) since I bought it about 5 years ago.
Also, what a lot of people here in Winnipeg do is buy a small electric single stage snow thrower. Yardworks makes a 12 amp unit that only weighs 46 pounds that's very popular up here. It's certainly underpowered if you want to clear a driveway, but if you're just doing a deck or a sidewalk, people find that they're good enough.
Check out the Yardworks 12 amp 20 inch electric single stage snow blower at the bottom of this web site:
'Snow Throwers | Canadian Tire' (http://tinyurl.com/brn8tmf )
Read the reviews. Most people think it's OK for what it is; an electric snow blower. Also, they should be going on sale in another few weeks once the snow starts to melt.
--
nestork


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On Thu, 14 Mar 2013 12:41:29 -0700 (PDT), jamesgang

for not including a removable section of railing. I swear that if I ever replace the railing I will add that feature. My deck is about 6 feet off the ground. Access to the deck from the ground is via stairs to a landing, then a left hand turn onto the deck. To shovel the deck (for the dogs, for grilling, for access to the back yard, etc.) I have to lift the snow and throw it over the railing. If I had a removable section, or even a gate, I could just push the snow off and eliminate the lifting. The current design of the railing precludes the installation of a gate or a removable section. One of these days...one of these days.

Still pretty hard to remove 10 inches of wet snow.
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I thought about this when I built our deck 15+ years ago. Also built several others with a rail system similar to mine. I looked through what I have on the computer, and have some sorry photos. Could take a picture of the built in hinged gate, which I made at the top of the upper deck, but it's cold out there right now!
Anyways, here's a picture I took just a couple years ago to email someone about the grass seed I was planting. You can get an idea on the rails. Like Bob, our code is now no more than 4" openings, at the time I built this, the code was 6" opening and I made them 5". As you can see, the balusters do not run all the way down, there is a 5" opening at the bottom to push the snow off.
http://picasaweb.google.com/Roofguy35/BackYardProject#slideshow/5361762965957696658
However, when snow gets as bad as the below link, you either wait till it melts, or shovel over the railing. http://picasaweb.google.com/Roofguy35/AfterTheSnow#5440098720615953506
A couple small decks/balconies I did. http://picasaweb.google.com/Roofguy35/BrimfieldDecks#5363632414842674082
A small deck for a condo. Believe it or not, I had to get a variance for this thing! http://picasaweb.google.com/Roofguy35/SmallCondoDeck#5363967045594092914
Another deck with similar railing, but owner didn't want hand rails & code didn't require them. http://picasaweb.google.com/Roofguy35/AkronDeck#5364732347311889154
Added railing to existing concrete pad. http://picasaweb.google.com/Roofguy35/ConcretePadWithRailing#5321710428076926834
Anyways, people seemed to like the idea.
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http://picasaweb.google.com/Roofguy35/BackYardProject#slideshow/5361762965957696658

http://picasaweb.google.com/Roofguy35/ConcretePadWithRailing#5321710428076926834

Nice!
Was the hinged gate you mentioned installed for the purpose of shoveling snow?
I have a hinged gate by the landing to keep the dogs on the deck, but shoveling snow onto the landing and then down the narrow stairs is as much work as shoveling it over the railing.
What I'd like to do is put a gate or removable section in an area over the open yard so the snow lands where it won't really block anything. Even if I have to move it, the snowblower will make quick work of it once it's on the ground.
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Ahhh, now I get the idea what you're after. My gate is at the top of the stairs to keep the dog on the deck. But, you could put another anywhere the way I built the railing. I actually built the railing solid first, and cut through after I got the stairs built to the lower deck. I cut through and added hinges afterwards. I really need to get a picture to show how I did it.
This picture on one of the other decks shows the idea, but the details are not shown. http://picasaweb.google.com/Roofguy35/SmallCondoDeck#5363967051372975778
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I'd like to see the finished gate. My deck was my first big DIY project and I basically followed the advice of a friend who drew up the design. The railing is actually on top of the deck but every year I keep promising myself that I'm going to replace it with one similar to yours. When I do, I'm going to design in a "snow removal" feature.
Here's my railing as it is today.
http://i440.photobucket.com/albums/qq121/DerbyDad03/photobucket-54378-1363388945352_zps16831e67.jpg
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Shovels are for cavemen.<g> Get a little Toro 1800.
Jim
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I used to have a single stage thrower that I used on the deck a few times. It was a pain to haul it up the 10 steps to the deck. SWMBO really frowned upon my suggestion to drag it from the garage, through the kitchen and family room to avoid the deck stairs.
I only used it on the deck a few times after really bad storms. First I had to blow a path around the house to get it to the stairs, then shovel the stairs and landing, then haul it up 10 steps, then haul it back down. Too much work for not a lot of gain. Might as well just shovel.
Now that I have a two stage blower, blowing that path around the house is much easier, but using it on the deck is out of the question.
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On Fri, 15 Mar 2013 01:36:28 +0000 (UTC), DerbyDad03

The 1800 is an electric that weighs less than the standard shovelful of snow.
I love mine for cutting down snowbanks, blowing steps clear, getting into places where the 2 stage won't go-- and for doing the garage roof if needed. [about every 5 years or so]
Jim
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I have no reason to use the deck if it gets snow. I let it melt.
Greg
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