04:21PM | 09/12/05
Member Since: 06/20/05
53 lifetime posts
Every book I have found talks about pouring a pier that comes up out of the ground, putting one of those metal brackets, and just be careful lining up the J-bolts. Well, unfortunately, I didn't do that. I have an 8" deep poured footing at the bottom of the footing holes (2' deep at bottom for frost); so the top of the footing is 18" underground.

Here's the problem: I can't figure out how to get these posts plumb and in a straight line at the same time.

The top of the concrete is a little bumpy (couldn't screed, being down in the hole) and I don't expect the end of the 6x6 post is quite square anyway.

So, I can make the posts vertical, maybe even so all 3 are in line with each other, and hold them in place with 2 diagonal boards that attach to the post and go down to the ground. But when I pull the diagonal boards, of course, the posts will go out of vertical.

My question, I guess, is whether I can so anything to make the posts stay in a vertical position once they're plumbed, and strengthen the bottom of the post while I'm at it. Right now, when plumb, only a tiny part of the bottom of the post is bearing the weight of the post on the concrete. I can't believe that's a good thing.

I've thought of pouring a little more concrete down in the hole after the posts are plumbed to anchor them, of using some kind of epoxy, and even putting metal anchors down in the hole more or less like the books show, except 18" under. The metal worries me because it's underground and I don't know if it would corrode out down there.

Please, any help is most appreciated! I know there must be an easy solution (since more than one person has told me just do it this way, no problem!) but I sure can't figure out what it is.


< gary

doug seibert

08:18PM | 09/12/05
Member Since: 08/10/02
842 lifetime posts
What are we building?........I'm afaid you need lots more concrete.......24" worth and steel reinforcing within the pour......

and a bracket to hold the 6x6 post off of the concrete and attached to the concrete.....try Simpson........ZMax for the new AQC treated wood..........


02:11AM | 09/13/05
Member Since: 06/20/05
53 lifetime posts
Thanks for your response. Really, more concrete? Sorry for lack of details in original. It's a deck, and there are already 10 footings (plus 2 at the bottom of the stairs) due to the unusual shape of the thing. It has two sides: One side of the deck is 14' x 19' (6 footings + ledger board) and the other is 16 x 9 (4 footings + ledger). I thought it was already overbuilt.

The other thing is, all the professionally-built decks I see around here do the footings the same way - 8" of concrete in the bottom of the hole. And that's how the Loudoun County (VA) standard deck plan shows it - see . On the other hand, all the books show it the way you describe - a footing with a pier and a bracket.

I know the pier doesn't really add to the strength of the footing - in fact my understanding is that it weakens it laterally if anything, hence the rebar requirement. But it does get the bottom end up out of the ground. That's probably why the books recommend it.

Sigh. I can see I shouldn't quit my day job. :-(


05:53AM | 09/13/05
Member Since: 04/25/05
1915 lifetime posts
The concept is OK and in fact has a lot going for it.

Post set directly into concrete are prone to rot (even treated ones) as the post will strink and form a gap which will trap water.

One problem with doing it the way that you trying to do it is that there is limited overturning resistance.

But it would be ok for relatively low decks (probably no more than 3ft).

Now Fairfax Co shows 3 different details. One using an underground bracket, one an above ground bracket, and one with the post set in concrete UNDERGROUND.

I think that the last one is a very, very poor design.

Note - that they say to use a heavly hot dipped galvanized or stainless steel for the bracket.

And if you have the end of a post underground I would treat it with a water replent, protectant (Jasco has several) before installing it. The end grain is what will wick in the moisture and this will help stop it.

Now as to your question.

If the unevenness between the end of the post and the concrete footer is no more than 1/2", 1/4" is better, then it will be OK.

The other think is to Strap the post together that will keep them inline and plumb in one axis. Then a couple of diagonals to the ground to keep them plumb in the other axis.

Then backfill and COMPACT around the post. Use crushed gravel in the 1/2 - 3/4" range. And compact it every few inches. And compact it some more.

Some soils will work for this, but others are either too sandy or have too much clay and will hold moisture. The advantage of the stone is that lock together and is free draining.

Now if you hole are already holding water for days at a time you don't want the post in the ground at all.

Done right that will lock in the post.

You should be able to remove the supports, but it might be easier to just start builting the deck and later removing the supports after you have enough of the deck built that it locks the top of the post into place.


02:38PM | 09/13/05
Member Since: 06/20/05
53 lifetime posts
Interesting. Thanks for the cite and for the very helpful response. They mention the G-185 bracket, and my understanding is that's the normal rating you should use for any ACQ lumber (Z-max). As I think about it, if I use backfill of rocks, the underground bracket doesn't ever really touch the ground - just water, which should drain.

One curious thing: they don't show a J-bolt in the plan when the bracket's underground, but they do when it's above the surface. I can't believe that's a mistake. Does that make sense?

Finally, I am not sure how I know what my soil is. I poured some water into a footing hole before filling it with concrete, and it seemed to drain off pretty well. The soil isn't sandy, and when I look underground I see some clay but mostly little granules. I'm guessing this is fine for the rocks. Does that sound right? If the soil doesn't drain well, it seems that I would be better off just backfill with dirt. Not as much water that way to just sit in the hole.

Thanks for all the interesting and useful responses.


05:43PM | 09/13/05
Member Since: 04/25/05
1915 lifetime posts
That is interesting about the inground bracket.

I notice that the the footing is only a miniumum of 8" thick.

Off the top of my head I don't know the lenght of the J bolts, but they might be too long.

But there are other types of brackets. Some with built in sheet metal wings.

And other where you have to drill into the footing and use expanding anchors or structural epoxy anchors.

If the hole did not drain that is the case where I would want to use a concrete pilar so that the post is completely out of the ground.

I really don't know enough about different soils to give you a recommendation.

I just know that mine is heavy clay and/or a silty clay and it holds lots of water, but the location where I did this is high and does not hold water. So I just crushed rock.

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