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Small Deck Big Problem, I think

RPD63's picture

Small Deck Big Problem, I think (post #215424)

Hi All,

  New to the forum so apologies for breaking rules, when, or if, I do.  In the planning phase of replacing a small deck on a 1928 home in Oakland CA.  The original stood for many years but as the house has settled it has become necessary to replace.  Initial plan was to rebuild using a freestanding 40x56 deck, 34" above lowest point, but after the demo and cleaning/scrubbing away of layers of dirt, debris, and hair (dog I'm guessing) I have found that under the original was a conveniently placed sloped slab of concrete.  Great drainage but unexpected to say the least.  I was hoping to find solid ground, pour 4 footings for posts, and build from there.  With the sloped concrete pad, not really an easy option.  

Now I'm leaning toward 1 ledger (original ledgers (2) were attached to outside of stucco/cement exterior with nails) against the wall where the door is and extending the size of the deck to 50x56 which may be enough beyond the surface level area of the original concrete slab.  I have yet to dig down to make sure there is solid ground, that's the next step.  Many of the houses in the area where built on fill from previously built homes, hence the settling.  The speed at which marbles roll inside the house in various directions is amazing.  I also have yet to explore behind the stucco which just thinking about it makes me sigh.  

Anyway, the plan now is cut into the stucco to access the studs/foundation wall (I don't know how high foundation goes, possibly to just under the door sill) attach the ledger more in accordance with code, hopefully find solid ground for two footings, run a flush beam similar to the illustration, and being done with it.  Looking for thoughts and opinions that could be useful in my decisions and thanks in advance.  I have additional pictures to post but on first attempt could only do the two plus illustration.

Hi there, can you clarify the (post #215424, reply #1 of 12)

Hi there, can you clarify the size of the deck... I am assuming you are dealing in inches, not feet...  That will change things of course.  Don't worry about breaking any rules here either...  pretty easy going around here and happy to have new people stopping in.

40x56 in inches, yes (post #215424, reply #2 of 12)

Thanks for the reply and the reassurance.  Yes, that was in inches, 40"x56".  The depth, from the door out (original plan of 40") is limited by a tiled patio that is approx 65" out.  The edge of the sloped slab is at approx 40" and has a cut out (lower left of one of the original photos) which held a cement pier for the original deck post that had slipped away from the house and basically fell off it's position.  The other dimension is limited by the stair landing that actually mates with two additional concrete stairs I will need to merge with.  Not a great photo here but the landing that I will need to rebuild is behind the second step. The stringers were built out of amazing pieces of 3"x14" heart redwood and still very intact except for the fact one was tarred and bolted to the wall and the other has so many odd sized nails holding it to added support pieces that it had to be ripped from it's cement landing grave, sadly.

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Stucco (post #215424, reply #3 of 12)

Don't cut the stucco. There's no reason to cut the stucco if there are no leaks now. Thoroughly water proof it with mastic or elastomeric sealer. If you cut it your are asking for leaks.There's no good way to retro-flash the ledger. You'd also be creating a place for water to accumulate on the ledger.

Stucco Reply (post #215424, reply #4 of 12)

Thanks Mike, gives me something to think about for sure.  I have read many comments saying the same thing but the result is usually the recommendation of going freestanding which isnt really a possibility in this case.   Can you suggest proper methods of anchoring?  Like I said in the previous post I'm not really sure what is behind the stucco without drilling an exploratory hole at the level I'm going to hang the ledger, which will be an inch or two higher I believe.  If it's foundation that would be best I would assume.  Havent found a crawl space to the back of this wall either.  Will also have to submit plans to the building department and will be curious if they balk at flush mounting the ledger.  Thanks for the input.

RPD (post #215424, reply #6 of 12)

Can you stand back a bit and take a photo showing more of what you have to work with?


* I flip'd a switch in your profile so you shouldn't have any more problems posting.  Sorry for the crap site software we are forced to use here.

A Great Place for Information, Comraderie, and a Sucker Punch.

Remodeling Contractor just outside the Glass City.


RPD - Reply (post #215424, reply #7 of 12)

I'm back at the property on Tuesday and I'll take a couple more pictures.  I looked through all that I had and none are reflective of the entire space.   Trapped in the details I guess?

RPD (post #215424, reply #8 of 12)


A Great Place for Information, Comraderie, and a Sucker Punch.

Remodeling Contractor just outside the Glass City.


Adding a couple step back (post #215424, reply #10 of 12)

Adding a couple step back photos that will hopefully aid in understanding the terrain.   I'm going to check in with the building department later this week about even trying to get them to approve attaching a ledger to stucco which I think is going to go nowhere, but we'll see. 

If I can, and I can figure out how to attach two posts to concrete that is sloped about 3 degrees, I may go that route. Even the orginal landing for the single post is off about 3 degrees.  If I need to build up the concrete to get it level, I can do that.  I would need to do 2 posts as the walls are not near 90 degrees anymore.  The side wall (without the door) is approx 1 inch past 90 degrees at 4 feet from the corner.   I also think I'll be drilling in to something other that concrete behind the stucco so I need to explore that a bit further. 

Florida gave me some things to think about though I'm not sure what is meant by a 4x4 bucket and I'm not sure tapcon will be right for wooden sill above the foundation? 

 Seriously thanks for the advice so far.  Good community.  Last pic is of sunset looking west just south of San Fran from the sunroon.  Not bad today.

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RPD (post #215424, reply #11 of 12)

im here in the Green Mountains of Vermont with patchy service......

But someone should give you a detailed reply.



thanks for the pics if this does post.

A Great Place for Information, Comraderie, and a Sucker Punch.

Remodeling Contractor just outside the Glass City.


Code reguirements (post #215424, reply #12 of 12)

If this project requires a building permit you may be forced to comply with code requirements for an attached v. a free-standing deck. An attached deck raises all sort of issues that may end up costing you a bundle more...sigh.

Mel Fros

Stucco reply (post #215424, reply #5 of 12)

Hi Mike, not sure what happened to my previous reply but thought I'd try again and say thanks for the input.  I've read a lot of comments on this and other forums saying the same thing, most with the outcome of recommending freestanding, which in this case isn't possible.  Is there generally recommended methods for mounting a ledger against the exterior material such as this understanding I have yet to identify what exactly is behind.  If it's foundation wall I think that would be the most fortunate but it may also be a sill.  I have yet to find away behind the wall in question but maybe that should be my next effort?  In any case once I'm commited to a design I'll have to submit plans to the building department and am curious as to their response.  Thanks again for the input. 


No problem here at all. I'd (post #215424, reply #9 of 12)

No problem here at all. I'd pressure clean the 2 walls, maybe parge the gap at the bottom then coat the 2 walls with an elastomeric sealant. After it dries Tapcon 2 X 6" s to the walls right where the old deck sat. If you want to overkill Tapcon some 2 X 4" legs under the  2 X 6's but  it shouldn't be necessary. Then fly the outside joists and stick a temporary post on the corner. Get it all level and square, pulm down and attach a 4 X 4" bucket to the pad and drop in a post. Add a couple more joists, steps and decking and you're done. I'd say 6 hours tops

Florida Licensed Building Contractor, 50 years experience in commercial remodeling, new homes, home remodeling and repairs and all types building maintenance.