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  • Exterior deck elevation

    I'm building a new house that has a concrete patio/deck off the family room. It's connected to the house with a pair of inswing French doors. There is an 18" eve overhang with gutters over the second story above the deck.

    My question is what elevation to put the deck in relation to the finished floor in the house: should it be at the same elevation with slope away from the house or should I have a step down from the finished floor to the deck?

    My concern is that water from a flush deck will get under the door sill into the house either from wind-driven rain or due to splatter from above. Although I haven't lived at the site, from the what I can tell, the doors aren't directly exposed to the weather and there will be a gutter on the roof above. The house is in Norther California south of San Francisco so the climate is mild and there is no snow.

    Thanks for your thoughts,

    Rich

  • #2
    Re: Exterior deck elevation

    I don't like step downs from the main house to a deck. A deck/patio should be an extension of the interior floor you are walking out from.


    Many will say there should be a step down due to snow/ice etc.. I don't buy into that. The door should be installed properly, flashed/waterproofed and deck level with interior floor making it an easy, convenient and safe transition.
    Gary

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    • #3
      Re: Exterior deck elevation

      I agree no step down. Become one with nature.
      "First we finish the game, then we’ll deal with the Armada!"

      Sir Frances Drake

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      • #4
        Re: Exterior deck elevation

        Originally posted by LIHR50 View Post
        I don't like step downs from the main house to a deck. A deck/patio should be an extension of the interior floor you are walking out from.


        Many will say there should be a step down due to snow/ice etc..
        Not too much snow in Millbrae or wherever the house is being built...

        I might step it down if it was a west facing exposure on Skyline, if I could see the ocean and storms rolling in directly from the Pacific. Otherwise, do a nice job on the flashing and maintain the door seals and make it level.
        kevin
        “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.” - Upton Sinclair

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        • #5
          Re: Exterior deck elevation

          Running with scissors fellas.

          First off this sounds like a homer so the recipient of the free comments from here may suffer greatly.

          Why put so much burden on flashing no one knows how long will last?

          A 1 or 2 inch elevation change (drop to the exterior)with some good water management practice will keep the water out if the drought ever breaks.
          www.train2rebuild.com
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          • #6
            Re: Exterior deck elevation

            27 posts, Bill, including at least one you replied to (a while back, to be sure). Not a homer, maybe his own home though?

            I'd opt for a drop like you talk about if it was facing the weather. If not, not.

            When I talk about flashings for a deck door I mean a sill pan with integrated P&S. They're off the shelf at the yards around here. I sure hope the pans last a while!
            “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.” - Upton Sinclair

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            • #7
              Re: Exterior deck elevation

              We always, 100% of the time, try to get a 3-1/2"-5-1/2" drop. This is part of "best practices" for water management. Pans and weatherstrip are fine but in a very heavy rain 2"-3" of water can accumulate against that door. I am talking about the kind of rains almost every area might receive once every 2-3 years.
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              • #8
                Re: Exterior deck elevation

                I always drop a deck 2". You have to manage exterior rain water.

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                • #9
                  Re: Exterior deck elevation

                  Thanks for all your replies. I'm a GC who's building this on spec. The price tag will be $3+ million so the details have to be fantastic but I want to make sure to use best practices to limit my liability.

                  The door is North-facing and down in a valley (not on Skyline facing the Pacific) so I'm not so worried about direct exposure. I like the idea of a 1-2" difference between the interior and exterior elevations, but my understanding of the code is that the elevations on either side of an exterior door must be the same. This sounds like something I should confirm with the inspector.

                  Rich

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                  • #10
                    Re: Exterior deck elevation

                    How can rain build up on a deck? It's a natural drain with all those spaces. A solid surface is another story, but that's pitched away for proper drainage.

                    If there is a flood issue where water has the potential to build up against the home, you take that into account. But if that's the case you build above that potential flood point and still maintain equal elevations between interior/exterior.

                    There is no trade off if you pay attention to the details. In my opinion it's the best approach and people love walking outside without having to step down while balancing drink and food trays. Plus you eliminate those ugly wheelchairs ramps.
                    Gary

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                    • #11
                      Re: Exterior deck elevation

                      Originally posted by Telerich View Post
                      The door is North-facing and down in a valley (not on Skyline facing the Pacific) so I'm not so worried about direct exposure. I like the idea of a 1-2" difference between the interior and exterior elevations, but my understanding of the code is that the elevations on either side of an exterior door must be the same. This sounds like something I should confirm with the inspector.

                      Rich
                      I believe you can have up to an 8" step down outside an inswing door, but check on that.
                      The deck ledger bolting requirements limit step down options (Good Glenn Matthewson video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f4y5JT1XH4o) But you said this is a concrete patio, so no ledger, correct?
                      kevin
                      “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.” - Upton Sinclair

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                      • #12
                        Re: Exterior deck elevation

                        Just for clarification-

                        The OP indicated this is a concrete patio/deck.

                        Is the question what level to pour the concrete, or what level to place a wood deck on top of the concrete patio/deck?

                        If concrete, I'd do at least 4" below the door, and check with the arch to make sure.

                        If wood, I like a step down, but some clients don't. If you are building over a slab, why even have a ledger? Build free standing with a drainage gap by the door.

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                        • #13
                          Re: Exterior deck elevation

                          Originally posted by kfc510 View Post
                          But you said this is a concrete patio, so no ledger, correct?
                          kevin
                          Hence this comment above
                          “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.” - Upton Sinclair

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