I know this has been covered akin to beating a dead horse but I have a
few questions that have not really been asked.
I am looking to put in a simple deck of at least 1000 square feet
(subject to change depending on cost). Single level and no stairs. I
live near Chicago so the temp and humidity swings are on the high end
(in the 90s in the summer and 0 at night during the winter are not
uncommon). The deck will be no more than 18 inches from the
I have seen posts concerning the various decking materials. Ipe would
seem to be my most logical choice but I am intrigued about redwood but
have seen very few posts on it as a decking surface. Has anyone used
new or recycled redwood for a deck?
Trex and the like would also make sense but I have seen a few posts
about mold and swelling...things I can live without. Also, my 3 and 4
year old boys as well as my 80lb dog would be sure to scratch it and I
don't think the surface would take it well.
Will the fact that the deck is close to the ground make for trouble?
This area is in a flood plain and water accumulates pretty easily.
The decking would not be submerged but the ground would eminate
humidity for days after (part of the reason for the deck...so the kids
can be in the back yard and not track so much mud into the house).
Bugs and other critters. Since I will not have access to the
underside, how so I make sure I am not constantly battling a war with
insects that might decide to take up residence under the decking?
Grills. I am getting a grill and am wondering how the Trex type of
material would handle indirect heat.
1000 sq. ft. = a simple deck..........sorry that's not a simple deck by any
stretch, add the price of redwood and you're going to need a second
Treated wood with little kids isn't a good idea anymore.
If you can find it I might go with white cedar. It can be imported from
Canada easy enough although tarrifs add to the cost, but I have found it
hard to locate here in the Northeast.
But anyway you look at it 1000 sq. ft. is going to be a lot of lumber.
Like Dave said, this is going to require a lot of lumber but that is just
the beginning. A deck this large will also require MANY MANY footings and
with your frost line, they are going to need to be deep (probably around 4
feet) and this also gets expensive and time consuming.
I built a 550 square foot deck and even at that, redwood was way out of my
My deck is a two level and the smaller hot tub level is done in trex (to
avoid splinters) and it is tuffer than you might think( and also quite
18 inches should be ok provided you use the proper materials and the
underside of the deck is ventilated. My property has a down-grade from
left to right and that puts one side of my deck about 4 inches above the
ground and I still have no problems.
There is no way to stop that. To cut it back on my deck, I removed all of
the grass where the deck was going to be. After I pored my footings, I
covered the whole area with landscaping fabric (landscaping plastic near the
house) and then buried it under about 3 inches of crushed gravel. This did
an excellent job of preventing weeds from growing under the deck and
significantly reduced the insect population. Crickets seem to like that so
once or maybe twice during the season, I open the side screens and give it a
shot of insecticide.
Well think about it, heat rises so unless your grills cooking area is only
inches above or below the decking, it is highly unlikely to ever see any of
that heat. The one thing that you might want to be a little concerned with
is hot hamburger grease getting on it.
If at first you don't succeed, you're not cut out for skydiving
Simple meaning that it is rectangular and one level with no stairs.
Just lots of horizontal surface.
I also went to the village today and found out that they require that
I use a minimum of 2x8s for supports. Also they mention something
about bolting the deck to the beam sections but I don't quite
Thanks...I will check out the cedar.
A few concerns:
Cedar is soft and does tend to rot or check over time. Plus it grows
moss and needs to be cleaned frequently. A pressure washer is the
easiest way to do this but will damage the soft cedar. So for all
those reasons and if you have any ecological conscience at all I would
definitly check out the various mam-made materials. Trex will hold up
under dog and kid use much better than cedar and you can pressure wash
it or scrub it without so much risk of damage. Plus no rot or moisture
damage undeneath. and it is substancially cheaper and needs no
Structurally decks need to be designed for 60 pounds per sq" (check
locally) which translates into a pretty substancial investment. Do not
attach it directly to the house. Telling you that you must use 2x8's
is pretty meaningless. Do the design based on the 60psf and economy of
construction. Your biggest expense after the decking will be the
footings so minimize the number of them and go for larger dim joist
Am sure you will get lots of response, Dave (Ringo?) . . .
. . . especially about redwood. (If you have a source for
recycled redwood, I'd certainly look into that first thing.)
You say "deck" and most folks get an immediate mind-picture
Can you get cypress where you live?
Reading over your post and your expressed concerns, expected
use, etc., my first thought turns to "Why a deck?"
You can achieve what you seek with a permanent solution
having virtually none of the concerns you have. For only
18", why not build a terrace? It doesn't all have to be
surfaced. Grass, etc., does fine. A 1000 sf deck floating
at near grade is going to look a bit strange except as a
bathhouse floor, etc.
I believe you'll find sufficient fill for a 1000 sf surface,
gently sloped for surface drainage (which you'll need
anyway) and reliance on angle of repose or whatever for
support and integration into the landscape will not only be
far more comfortable, more "residential," more friendly to
your own environment (oxygen, cooling, etc.), easier to
maintain (just mow or rake), more permanent (no rot, no
mold, no refinishing, no cleaning out underneath, no rodent
problems, no retained moisture, no hidden pools, etc., etc.,
A 1000 sf deck without major transitions and grade
elevation changes is going to be harsh, out-of-scale with
the typical residence and yard environment, not nearly so
flexible as a terrace, not nearly as attractive as almost
any alternative, even with retaining walls. In addition to
a very real cleaning and maintenance tedium, your deck will
cost you more than a terrace and likely will be of no added
value on resale . . . likely even a liability.
Just a thought.
The space that I have in our back yard is 50 X 48. There is grass now
but there are a few problems...
1) The rear left corner is occupied by a pretty large mulberry tree.
This tree (which I cut back drastically last fall) provides shade for
much of the back yard. So much so that grass does not grow very well.
When I had the tree cut back, I did with grass growth in mind so this
may not be so much of an issue when srping arrives here. The corner
that the tree resides in also collects a great deal of water when it
rains due so a small sloping grade. The four yards that meet there
also have the same problem in the same adjoining area. I would also
like to give the dog a strict area to go to the bathroom so I don't
have issues with kids and dog crap. That corner would be ideal. The
right hand corner of the yard will be taken up by a playground
I am hoping to also make a shed on one side of the house and put that
on part of the deck to house various kid and adult items.
Now, I would really like pavers but getting enough dirt back there
(there is only 5 feet on each side of the house so squeeze through) to
raise the entire grade enough to not have water issues my be
Add to this the fact that I am not really into mowing grass or taking
care of plants...
What exactly do you mean by terrace?
With your size yard, especially with kids and a dog, you
won't have to be ". . . into mowing grass . . . " to keep it
acceptable. Plant a draught tollerent grass, don't water
it, and nature will keep it growing but not too much.
Think rice patties in the orient. Only you'll have grass or
pavers or whatever and not water with rice growing in it.
But, both the pattie and your yard will be like you intend
your deck to be: level. That is what terraces are: level
areas (divided by or surrounded by or adjacent to areas not
level or at different elevations . . . like the rice
patties. They are terraced.)
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