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  1. #1
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    Porch ledger board advice request

    I'm looking at you ToG and any other builders.

    I'm about to build a ground level deck off of the back of my house. For the most part it will sit on an existing concrete patio but there is an 8 foot section that will extend beyond that patio. So, I want to attach the deck to the house.

    I know the "right" way to do it is to cut out the siding, lag bolt the ledger to the wall, add flashing etc. But here's the thing, neither of the other 2 decks that were originally built with the house are built that way and they look fine after 12 years. I'm wondering whether there's really a need to built my deck better (more difficult) than what is already there.

    The decks all attach to the bottom trim piece of the house. This is 1x10" MiraTEC that is perfectly plum and has flashing at its top edge. My ledger would be a 2x8' and flush with the bottom of that trim.

    The existing porches are all bolted to the house straight through the MiraTEC with 1/2" spacers to provide some air space between the ledger and the trim. No flashing was used. I'm considering building my deck the same way using large metal washers as spacers.

    I've seen some books etc. that suggest this is acceptable and others that poo-poo it so I wanted to get more opinions. I'd also like to hear thoughts on what type of fasteners to use and whether I need to try to hit studs etc. with those fasteners or if it's ok just to go through the plywood cladding on the house.

    FWIW, I live in a fairly dry climate that gets about 16" of liquid precip per year.

  2. #2
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    The right way is to both flash and use spacers if you are attaching to the house.

    The connection must be to structure. Not plywood. This is important.

    What's the AHJ say? Are you getting a permit?

    The older I get the more I obey the rules.

    What kind of space do you have below the framing? Any way to put columns and beam along the house, and skip the connection?

    Deck ledger failures are a big deal, and it is smart to try and use good practice.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by 10ae1203 View Post
    What's the AHJ say? Are you getting a permit?
    I haven't contacted them yet. I'm on the fence about getting a permit since the deck is small, low, and not visible from anywhere outside the yard.

    When we bought the house the home inspector pointed out the existing decks and said something along the lines of "it's not the best way to do it but it shouldn't be a problem. I assumed that meant we were code compliant.

    Quote Originally Posted by 10ae1203 View Post
    What kind of space do you have below the framing? Any way to put columns and beam along the house, and skip the connection?
    .
    House framing? Not sure. I need to spend some time in my crawlspace tonight although I bet it's obscured by spray-in insulation.

    I could use columns or even pier blocks, along with the existing patio, for the entire deck but I want to eliminate any possibility of sag or bounce. I'm still pondering that but it would be difficult to dig along the house because I only have a 4-ft gap between the house and the concrete pad that my hot tub sits on.

    In hindsight, I should have had the mason pour the hot tub pad right up to the house and then I could have built the entire deck off of concrete. But I wanted that pad flat and was worried about having water pool up against the house.

  4. #4
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    I don't know how your local town is, but mine is very aggressive about non-permitted additions, especially decks. We had a couple illegal decks collapse with serious injuries so they are touchy about it.

    Here you have to have a C/O when you sell the house and it includes a survey. Also if you pull a permit for another project they can (and do) look at the house for any non-permitted work during building inspections.

    If you don't have an approved addition the penalties are pretty steep. You have to pull a permit and the penalty is like 4x the price of the original permit. If the existing structure is not to code they will make you tear it down. My town will allow decks without a permit if they don't attach to the house, and are not more than about 6 inches off the ground. Anything else requires a permit.

    TL;DR - weigh your town's propensity for illegal building penalties before you add your deck.

  5. #5
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    TL;DR - weigh your town's propensity for illegal building penalties before you add your deck.

    I think I'm coming around to that school of thought too. It's probably the best way to get advice about how to do the job. But to clarify, the majority of the deck (about a 12x12' portion of it) will sit directly on top of the concrete patio so there's no potential for it to fall down.

    There will be a 5x8' "leg" that extends off of the patio between the house and hot tub and that's the part that I think needs to be attached to the house to keep it from sagging/bouncing.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by dir-t View Post
    ..."it's not the best way to do it but it shouldn't be a problem. I assumed that meant we were code compliant.


    ...
    Quote Originally Posted by B_arrington View Post
    I don't know how your local town is, but mine is very aggressive about non-permitted additions, especially decks. We had a couple illegal decks collapse with serious injuries so they are touchy about it.

    Here you have to have a C/O when you sell the house and it includes a survey. Also if you pull a permit for another project they can (and do) look at the house for any non-permitted work during building inspections.

    If you don't have an approved addition the penalties are pretty steep. You have to pull a permit and the penalty is like 4x the price of the original permit. If the existing structure is not to code they will make you tear it down. My town will allow decks without a permit if they don't attach to the house, and are not more than about 6 inches off the ground. Anything else requires a permit.

    TL;DR - weigh your town's propensity for illegal building penalties before you add your deck.
    Quote Originally Posted by dir-t View Post
    TL;DR - weigh your town's propensity for illegal building penalties before you add your deck.

    I think I'm coming around to that school of thought too. It's probably the best way to get advice about how to do the job. But to clarify, the majority of the deck (about a 12x12' portion of it) will sit directly on top of the concrete patio so there's no potential for it to fall down.

    There will be a 5x8' "leg" that extends off of the patio between the house and hot tub and that's the part that I think needs to be attached to the house to keep it from sagging/bouncing.
    If one does something in a non-standard way and succeeds, it doesn't necessarily mean that it'll work or be accepted every time.

    Barrington is right, and once you fall on the wrong side of municipal authorities, you are under the big microscope for a while. It ain't worth saving $500 to skip permits.

    Porch ledger board advice request-20170517_162019_resized.jpg

    Picture shows what I am asking about. If you have room for a small post and beam outside the house, you can avoid connection to house.

    You need a design to avoid bounce/sag. Some lumberyards will provide this service.

  7. #7
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    I spoke with our permit folks yesterday.

    Attach to house = need a permit (submit plans etc.).

    Don't attach to the house = do whatever you want and don't bother us.

    They confirmed that the existing decks are up to code and he gave me some other advice. I still want to check and see what kind of structure I would be bolting too if I go with a ledger but not using a ledger would only mean digging two more holes for posts so it might be a wash effort-wise.

    10ae, what you drew is exactly my situation except grade under the portion of the deck not directly over the concrete patio is only about 6 inches below the deck framing.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by dir-t View Post
    ... grade under the portion of the deck not directly over the concrete patio is only about 6 inches below the deck framing.
    You could probably detail it so that a double rim joist carries load, and then strap that to the pier footing.

    YMMV, BBQ, I am not a licensed design professional, etc., HTH, ETC.

    But I am working at a hotel a lot like the holiday express.

    So there's that.

  9. #9
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    I've always regretted taking the time to do it right the first time. I don't get the fun and additional expense of doing it over and over....
    Bad decisions make great stories - JP

    Spring is here... snowflakes are melting.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chain View Post
    I've always regretted taking the time to do it right the first time. I don't get the fun and additional expense of doing it over and over....
    NPR has started an interesting series on how failures teach the most important lessons.

    https://www.npr.org/player/embed/527052122/528822223

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chain View Post
    I've always regretted taking the time to do it right the first time. I don't get the fun and additional expense of doing it over and over....
    It would seem that there's couple ways to do things right - ergo floating vs non-floating decks.

    What I regret is that RBR has become such a wasteland that discussions about how to screw a board to a wall are what now passes as my lunch time entertainment.

  12. #12
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    I refuse to attach a deck to my house, I hate the thought of flashing failing and have to fix it after 25 years. My last deck is actually freestanding...all my decks have been freestanding.
    Essentially this one is really two decks with a beam down the center. It is absolutely rock solid!
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Porch ledger board advice request-imgp7913.jpg   Porch ledger board advice request-imgp7917.jpg  
    Of course I'm sure...that doesn't mean I'm right.....

    "There's no sense being stupid unless you show it."

    "that was like trying to teach a goldfish how to play basketball over the phone."

  13. #13
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    Just finished mine last night.

    I went with the "no ledger" option to avoid putting holes in the house or dealing with permits. I did have a good talk with the permit guy though. It's built on sleepers attached to the concrete pads and some piers where the deck overhangs the pads.

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  14. #14
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    Lookin good. And I like those chairs.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by 10ae1203 View Post
    Lookin good. And I like those chairs.
    Alas, those chairs (which I found abandoned in my neighbor's yard after they moved) are destined for the scrap heap tonight.

    Wifey is no longer happy with my duct tape repairs and ordered up new set.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by dir-t View Post
    Alas, those chairs (which I found abandoned in my neighbor's yard after they moved) are destined for the scrap heap tonight.

    Wifey is no longer happy with my duct tape repairs and ordered up new set.
    But you can buy new webbing.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by 10ae1203 View Post
    But you can buy new webbing.
    I had no idea! Looks like it's cheap too. Thanks for the tip!!

  18. #18
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    Cool.

  19. #19
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    That deck is really sharp. I like the layout with the edge strip and the white skirting. I particularly like how you extended the step over to make it easier to get in the hot tub.

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