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Question DetailsAsked on 4/8/2014

How can I have a deck built over an existing patio slab with low clearance?

Some contractors have said there isnt enough elevation at the door to build a deck over my patio. Even if I removed the concrete slab, the patio door threshold is barely above grade. However, a couple of contractors have said it can be done. I've also found online articles demonstrating how.

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1 Answer


In this case, most people would go with a patio of brick or pavers or concrete or such rather than a deck, and that is what I recommend, because a zero-clearance deck catches debris and promotes bugs moving in right next to your foundation, as well as complicating drainage near the foundation.

I have done a couple of similar things over the years - usually in front of almost ground-level windows in daylight or half-basements and as walkways and low ground disturbance trailways at recreational and "rustic" lodges and visitors centers and such. US Forest Service and BLM have some designs in their design guides for pre-fab easily removeable panellized walkways like this - baqsically similar to shipping pallets in design but designed to interlock. Can be done by building from ground-contact timbers and dig down in the ground to give clearance - probably about 3-7" thickness for joists plus decking depending on amount of ground support andjoist spacing.

Obviously, only consider contractors who understand your concept or propose something that accomodates your needs, THEN ask those who do not drop out for bids.

A couple of thoughts:

1) be sure to maintain drainage away from the house

2) if close to grade, I suggest you have them make the decking modular like pallets, with very few bolts holding it together, so you can lift or tilt up 3-4 foot wide pieces to clean underneath to keep it from becoming bug haven

3) consider scorpion, snake, spider attraction risks if you live in that part of the country, because they love damp, close to ground areas like that

4) consider perimeter treatment to keep leaves from blowing under so you don't have to clean too often

5) make sure anything within 8 inches of ground is ground-contact rated

6) except for necessary bridging ramp at doorsill, leave a gap large enough to leaf blow and hose out between deck and house to mitigate insect and water damage to the house, especially if up against siding rather than foundation concrete or block.

Answered 5 years ago by LCD

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