Your Key to the Perfect Deck

Footings support the deck’s weightWhat You Need to Know About Deck Footings

Nothing says summer like a backyard barbeque on your new deck. When built correctly, the deck can be a hot spot for many backyard escapes and a refuge for enjoying perfect summer evenings. But it all can come crashing down if the deck doesn’t have proper footings.

Footings support the deck’s weight at different points in the ground, creating a crucial support network that prevents problems, such as sagging and wood rot. Those problems not only make your deck unattractive, but unsafe as well. And to fix them as they surface taps your savings and generates unwanted stress. Without proper footings, the deck will sink into the ground, taking with it any future summer get-togethers.

Laying the Groundwork

When starting a new deck project, choosing the correct footings boils down to two things, loads and codes. The first step you should take is to determine the deck’s size, location and layout. After getting a general idea of what you want the deck to look like, think how will you use it. Will it be the next venue for the neighborhood block party? Or will it be for intimate gatherings of family and friends? Based on your answer, your deck will have different footing requirements because of the weight requirements.

Local building codes also determine the footing style and measurements. Building codes can vary state to state, so it’s crucial to contact local government experts. They can provide information regarding the minimum number of footings needed, spacing requirements and even how deep to dig. For instance, holes need to be dug below the frost line, which can range anywhere between 12-60 inches, depending on where the project is within the U.S.

The Digging Commences

After securing the necessary building permits from city hall and locating underground utility lines, its time to dig. When it comes to bringing heavy duty equipment through your yard, let’s face it. You’re not thrilled about skidsteers leaving ruts in your soft, green grass, and fences and narrow side yards limit what type of equipment can even reach the worksite — commonly forcing homeowners to seek out hand augers and mechanical drills.

Mechanical earth drills, which can be rented from a local rental business, can get to the site, not to mention save time when digging deck footings. These earth augers can cut through different soil types, dig clean, consistent holes and quickly set up the beginnings for the perfect deck. Earth drills are compact and offer multiple types of digging teeth depending on the types of soil you have.

Additionally, mechanical drills are more portable than heavy machinery. For instance, some drills feature pneumatic wheels so a single person can pull the drill and carriage to the footing location without forming lawn ruts or dismantling fences. Some manufacturers build models with torque tubes that transfer digging torque to the engine carriage, which allows one person to safely operate the drill. Once in place, the user can drill to the required depth and quickly move to the next footing location.

After the footings are placed and the concrete has set, you can continue building the frame for the deck that will be the hot spot next summer and for many more to come.