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Common Footing Types for Decks in the Denver Metro Area
When it comes to choosing a footing for your deck, there are only a few options which are accepted by regional building codes. For Decks the traditional way to go is poured concrete piers. Another growing trend in the Metro Area, and around North America, is the use of helical piers.
Reinforced concrete has been used in construction since the 1800s, and today is still widely used for most home foundations. Concrete pillars, or piers, are common for supporting decks, sunrooms or small structures. The concrete piers are prepared by;
1. Excavating down below frost line levels
2. Sliding in a form of some kind (sonotube)
3. Backfilling the form and then pouring in the concrete
Standard acceptable depths for this process are generally 3’ in our area. The further north you go though, as temperatures drop and the frost line gets deeper, more depth is required for the piers. This is to avoid heaving as the soils freeze and unfreeze, making the ground unstable.
While concrete pillars are relatively effective and are widely accepted by building departments, they do have the following drawbacks;
• Can be prone to frost heaves if not placed deep enough
• Requires excavation or digging, can be messy (displaced soil needs to be removed or dumped)
• Can settle over time in shrinking or unstable soils
• Very labor intensive, man hours adding to the overall expense
• Concrete needs time to cure, cannot install posts same day
The Benefits of Helical Piers for Decks
The idea of helical piles or piers has been around for quite some time, though use of them for supporting decks or similar structures in the Denver Metro Area is relatively recent. Concrete pillars have been the norm for contractors and homeowners, but as the benefits of helical piers and helical screw piles become known, more and more people are opting to use them.
Helical Piers/Pier Tech Systems Pros:
• Installed well beneath frost line depths, will never be impacted by frost heaves
• Will never settle, so considered a permanent foundation
• Easy, clean installation (unless there are large rocks/boulders in the soil)
• Can support heavy structures
• Galvanized steel resists corrosion
• Can build on the helical pier same day, no waiting
• Less labor intensive, can be less expensive than concrete
Pier Tech Systems helical piers are designed to accept standard steel support brackets for 4x4 or 6x6 posts, and these specialized piers do away with weather delays because they can be installed regardless of temperature and precipitation conditions.
As with all home repair or home addition projects, the work put into the home is an investment. When deciding on whether or not to go with helical piers or standard concrete piers, consider the pros and cons of each application and decide which is best for your project. If time is not a factor, and you are able to save some money by digging the holes for concrete pillars yourself, concrete piers may be the best option. However, if you're looking for a long term, permanent, cost effective solution, then Pier Tech Systems helical piers should be your go to option.