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Thread: Alberta backyard deck & patio construction & maintenance

  1. #1

    Default Alberta backyard deck & patio construction & maintenance

    Please add or debate your experiences and recommendations regarding building and maintaining residential backyard decks and patios here in Alberta.

    Above all, have you any neat tricks or techniques to reveal that will help us all. Maybe we can build a useful "knowledge base" that all Edmontonians, if not Albertans can reference here on c2e.

    Front yards too!

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    Although I know they're kind of a pain in the *** and extra cost for a DIY job, I'd definitely say you should get proper city permits when building a deck. Three of my family members each ran into headache-inducing legal complications when it came to selling their houses, because there was no permit on the deck. It seems to be something home inspectors pay extra attention to. I was told by my last home inspector, it's because decks in Alberta have to built to standards to endure the huge snow weight most carry for half the year.
    Last edited by halocore; 21-05-2012 at 08:09 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by KC View Post
    Please add or debate your experiences and recommendations regarding building and maintaining residential backyard decks and patios here in Alberta.

    Above all, have you any neat tricks or techniques to reveal that will help us all. Maybe we can build a useful "knowledge base" that all Edmontonians, if not Albertans can reference here on c2e.

    Front yards too!
    getting a permit for a deck in the front yard is substantially harder than one in the back.

    In the back, keep it under 24" off the ground and you don't need a permit. If you want guidelines for building, the city has some recommended beam/post spacings. I'd follow that even if you don't get/need a permit.
    http://www.edmonton.ca/bylaws_licenc...on_handout.pdf

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    Quote Originally Posted by halocore View Post
    Although I know they're kind of a pain in the *** and extra cost for a DIY job, I'd definitely say you should get proper city permits when building a deck. Three of my family members each ran into headache-inducing legal complications when it came to selling their houses, because there was no permit on the deck. It seems to be something home inspectors pay extra attention to. I was told by my last home inspector, it's because decks in Alberta have to built to standards to endure the huge snow weight most carry for half the year.
    If it is under 6' the only requirements relate to beam size, joist spacing and overhangs. No specific requirements on piles or foundation.

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    Quote Originally Posted by nobleea View Post
    getting a permit for a deck in the front yard is substantially harder than one in the back.

    In the back, keep it under 24" off the ground and you don't need a permit. If you want guidelines for building, the city has some recommended beam/post spacings. I'd follow that even if you don't get/need a permit.
    http://www.edmonton.ca/bylaws_licenc...on_handout.pdf
    There's hardly any point in building a deck less than 2 feet high. You might as well just build a patio. The city should raise the maximum no permit required height to 1 m. That is high enough to be worth building but still low enough to minimize any privacy concerns on adjacent properties.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Titanium48 View Post
    There's hardly any point in building a deck less than 2 feet high. You might as well just build a patio. The city should raise the maximum no permit required height to 1 m. That is high enough to be worth building but still low enough to minimize any privacy concerns on adjacent properties.
    I think it has more to do with safety concerns than privacy concerns.
    anything 24" tall and under does not require railings. Over that height requires railings, and there's a few specifications for how much side load a railing can handle, spacing of openings, etc etc

    To add: 2' is roughly the height above grade that patio doors, side entrances, sliding doors, will be.
    Last edited by nobleea; 22-05-2012 at 03:28 PM.

  7. #7

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    There are overhang as well step height requirements too.

    Anyone use composite decking?

    If anyone has used deck stains, which one's hold up best here in Alberta? (Some seem more suited to climates where the wood doesn't undergo the freeze thaw cycles we have here.)



    .

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    if you want a lifetime career use a deck stain or worse yet a ("Xxxxxxxx") water seal
    Still waiting for the Arlington site to be reborn .......

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    I know this won't apply to many, but if, as mine does, your property backs onto a pipeline ROW, be sure to check what's particular to your lot regarding setbacks. For example, I was not permitted to put in a concrete foundation any closer than 50' to the closest pipleline.

    So, although my deck extends only 20' from the house, I was able to use in-ground concrete foundations (i.e., formed from one of those cardboard tubes and then filled with concrete to a depth of 8') only for the foundations closest to the house while, at the far end of the deck, my joist supports rest on 'deckbloks', those pre-formed 8" square concrete blocks that can accommodate a 4x4 upright post.
    Nisi Dominus Frustra

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    Quote Originally Posted by KC View Post
    Anyone use composite decking?

    If anyone has used deck stains, which one's hold up best here in Alberta? (Some seem more suited to climates where the wood doesn't undergo the freeze thaw cycles we have here.)
    .
    I used composite when I rebuilt the side steps / landing to my house. Only negative I can think of is the cost (maybe also a bit harder to work with). If you use the fastener systems that use "invisible" side clips rather then drilling through the top of the boards, your deck will basically never need maintenance. I have gone through three winters bashing it while shoveling, and it still looks great. Quite expensive unfortunately, but I think it's really worth it if you plan to be in your house for a long time.

    My main deck is just opaque stained wood, and I have to agree with Blueline's comment you'll be signing up for a career. I get the top of the line Behr (their premium ultra or whatever it is) exterior stain that's supposedly rated "15 years" on horizontal surfaces. Yet I still have to re-stain it every 2 to maybe 3 years. Stain works good on fences, but I'm not sure any brand can really hold up to our winters on a deck.

    One tip I did learn from a pro painter friend though, is that you should put stain on decks and feces at the hottest times of July and August. He told me wood stain is more temperature-sensitive then paint, and that the temperature drop at night in spring / fall can cause it to adhere poorly and wear off faster in the long run.

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    Last year my deck was up for a re-staining, so I used a Behr product that took the remaining old bits of stain off and took the boards down to bare wood. (Can't remember the actual name of the product, but it worked well.)

    Followed all the instructions, rinsed off the deck wash product, let the wood dry out, applied the new Behr stain with a 4" brush (my back's not thanking me for that) and here I am, not even one year later, looking at a deck that's flaking and peeling badly. Sod it, I'm just letting it go 'au naturel' from here on out. Then again, I might just weaken and give it a coat of clear protection next year.
    Nisi Dominus Frustra

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    Thank god I built my deck out of composite materials, it cost me an arm and a leg but well worth it. My dad's composite deck is 25 years old and the surface still looks great, no maintenance was ever done to it.
    Edmonton first, everything else second.

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    One thing I did was to cover many of the joists with Grace ? Tape. I forget what it's called now, but it covers the tops of the joists to prevent them from rotting. When I ran out I used strips cut from asphalt shingles.

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    My front deck was built with Azec composite decking. It has been 3 years now and it is still bright white. All I have to do is pressure wash it in the spring then make sure the dogs paws are clean (no mud) when she comes up. The decking was easy to work with. cost was high but the savings on staining alone are worth it. Because the deck is south exposure it would be fading with any other product. Its my furniture thats taking the beating.

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    I was looking up that Grace vycor tape and spotted this:

    http://www.deckmagazine.com/article/63.html

    "Sistered Joists Invite Rot "
    "I would like to comment on Mike Guertin's suggestion to use "sister" joists to stiffen up a bouncy deck (Question & Answer, Jul/Aug 07). As a former remodel and repair contractor, I've repaired a number of decks. My experience convinces me that sistered joists — unless done correctly — are an invitation to structural failure.

    The problem is that moisture gets in between the two joists and doesn't dry out. Rot quickly sets in, and the side-by-side joists soon turn to mush. Every time I've repaired a deck with sistered joists, they have been rotted, while..."



    Something else I noted in the above discussion is the railings. I believe here code is against those rails that act as little ladders for little kids with horizontal wires or boards that they could use to climb up and then tumble over. Makes a lot of sense.
    Last edited by KC; 06-07-2012 at 08:59 AM.

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    common problem that actually results in dry rot in deck boards as well
    Still waiting for the Arlington site to be reborn .......

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    Quote Originally Posted by KC View Post
    Something else I noted in the above discussion is the railings. I believe here code is against those rails that act as little ladders for little kids with horizontal wires or boards that they could use to climb up and then tumble over. Makes a lot of sense.
    Yes, they're supposed to use vertical ones and avoid anything that could be used as a ladder.
    The horizontal wires look nice, but are against code in Edmonton at least. You still see them quite commonly.

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    That's a dumb building code, building codes shouldn't teach people how to raise their children.
    Edmonton first, everything else second.

  19. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by ThomasH View Post
    That's a dumb building code, building codes shouldn't teach people how to raise their children.
    Doesn't the building code deal with fire prevention and electrical safety issues too? Properties change hands and codes help keep new buyers safe from the day they move in.

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    What's dumb is the way building codes are hidden behind a paywall. That just promotes ignorance. They and any other document referenced in any piece of legislation should be freely downloadable.

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    The idea is that the sale of the codes pays for their development. I agree though, and think that there's a better way of funding them.

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    Anyone know if there's a setback requirement for decks from fences/lot lines in back yards? A lot of older houses have side entries all with either wood porch or concrete steps, usually right to the fence.

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    Quote Originally Posted by nobleea View Post
    Anyone know if there's a setback requirement for decks from fences/lot lines in back yards? A lot of older houses have side entries all with either wood porch or concrete steps, usually right to the fence.
    Yes i'm sure there is. A recall that a former coworker built a nice deck but then had to modify it with more supports and even trim a corner or something because of set back requirement.

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    I'm pretty sure it's either 2 to 3 feet. However, I also seem to remember reading that side entrances can be exempt from the setback if the side yard spaces is under a certain dimension. Prob something that you have to phone the city to confirm.

    And yeah, it had annoyed me that the building codes are not available for free online. They are available in the reference sections of most EPL locations, but having it online would be so beneficial.

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    Does something like this need a permit?

    http://www.homedepot.ca/product/farr...12-feet/859561

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    No, it's not considered an accessory building.
    They're going to park their car over there. You're going to park your car over here. Get it?

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    Just watch out for gazebo thieves:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FP064tEnYrc

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    Hahaha classic.
    www.decl.org

    Ottawa-Edmonton-Vancouver-Edmonton

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    ^^ Coincidentally, I just read this article last night...


    Family Going to Visit Their Beloved Cabin in the Woods Makes a Bizarre and Head-Scratching Discovery
    Apr. 9, 2015 1:04pm Dave Urbanski

    http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2015...ing-discovery/


    What surprised me in looking at the regulations is how tall a shed can be - without needing a permit. 5.8 metres (19 feet) for a >20 degree steep slope !
    "• It is less than 10 square metres (m2) (107.6 square feet) in area
    • It is less than 4.3 m or 14.1 feet (ft) in height "
    see lower right description in this City of Edmotnon brochure...

    "Measurement Regulations
    • The maximum height for all accessory structures is 4.3 m (14.1 ft) or 1 storey. If the roof has a slope of more than 20 degrees perpendicular to grade, the maximum height
    is considered to be the midpoint of the roofline and the peak of the roof can only be 1.5 m
    (4.9 ft) higher. If the roof is less than 20 degrees (or a flat top roof), the height is measured to the highest point."

    http://www.edmonton.ca/bylaws_licenc...d_Brochure.pdf


    So add dormers and you could really up the space in the ceiling.


    Just found this image...

    http://www.theclassicarchives.com

    likely more than our max. sq. ft. but does more to maximize utilization of vertical space


    http://www.knackjack.com


    http://www.houzz.com/ideabooks/28804...rage-or-living
    Last edited by KC; 27-04-2015 at 10:10 AM.

  30. #30

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    Composites are comparatively lightweight to other materials. They are more durable, flexible and corrosion resistant. Building your shed out of composite materials is a good idea since it can endure constant climate change and severe weather conditions. Composite materials are also made in such a way that they are able to absorb huge impacts like explosions. The best part of using composite materials is that they can be molded into any shape or design that you require .They are perfect to be used outdoors since they can retain their shape even with the constant change in the temperature. Composites are mostly non conductive but they can be made conductive if the need arrises. Lastly they have a long life and requires very little maintenance. I had my shed made up of composite materials build by infinity gardens(http://infinitygardens.ca/residentia...scape-services). I had it for nearly six years and it is still good as new.

  31. #31

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    FYI:



    The Most Common Problem With Joist Hangers | Star Tribune

    The really crazy thing about this is that the nails that are so much smaller are actually called "Joist Hanger Nails" at the big box stores. They're called joist hanger nails because that's about the only thing they're good for... but they're usually not even good for that. If you go to Home Depot and you look at their joist hanger display, you'll probably find boxes of joist hanger nails sitting with the rest of the joist hangers, and no other types of nails.
    ...
    How serious of a problem is this? The manufacturer will allow these nails in to the header, but the total load will need to be reduced to 64% - a huge reduction. Simpson Strong-Tie does not allow these nails in to the joist. I confirmed this with one of their territory managers, who said they wouldn't even calculate this load.
    ..."


    http://m.startribune.com/the-most-co...ers/145354005/

    How to Install Joist Hangers | Family Handyman

    "The manufacturers agree: Never use galvanized deck screws or drywall screws to install joist hangers. Those screws donít have the shank size and toughness to support joist loads."

    https://www.familyhandyman.com/decks...gers/view-all/


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    I would have thought it would be obvious that those short nails are for the face of the hanger only, and only when the hanger is attached to a single ply header. Likewise with not using drywall screws (the largest size I remember seeing is a 2 inch #6 - does anyone really think that is strong enough?). Using regular 3 inch #8 deck screws instead of the heavier hanger screws is a more understandable mistake, but the proper screws are now located next to the hangers in the store, and it is easy to change them after the fact.
    Last edited by Titanium48; 15-09-2017 at 01:11 PM.

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