Supporting a deck without attaching it to the house
The deck on my stucco house was attached by running the joists through the walls and into the house. Posts support the outer part of the deck. Some of the joists are rotting at the house, and I’m looking for an alternative way of supporting the deck, preferably without attaching a ledger. Any suggestions?
Rod Schweiger, South San Francisco, CA
John Spier, a builder on Block Island, Rhode Island, and a frequent contributor to Fine Homebuilding, replies: If your deck is at or near ground level, the fix is relatively easy. You may need to remove some decking for access. Then just pour new piers or footings, and install a new carrying beam under the joists. Locate the carrying beam a quarter to a third of the way along the span, cantilevered toward the house. Depending on the strength of the original structure and the extent of the rot, you may need to add new joists next to some or all of the joists. The resulting deck will be independent of the house.
If the deck is elevated, you can still support it independently, but you probably wouldn’t want to add a bunch of columns under the support beam, especially if you need access to the space under the deck for storage or for a garage. In this case, your options are limited and probably involve larger beams, braces and approval from a structural engineer. No matter which scenario you choose, you need to tear into the wall to make the repair. After that, it’s imperative to restore the integrity of the waterproofing envelope before you repair the stucco.