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Thread: OT - Replacing Deck Stairs Handrail Post

  1. #21
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Posts
    560

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    Heretical advice?
    I did my deck's stair railings with aluminum pre-fab kits.

  2. #22
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Northern Indiana
    Posts
    1,163

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    I stopped using concrete some time ago. I now use pea gravel in the post holes to set my posts. It'll tighten up damn near as much as concrete and will allow water to shed from the post. And there is no muss- no fuss. Just pour it in around your post.

    But you'd better have your post as plumb as you want it to be before you pour.

  3. #23
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
    Location
    USA MD 21030
    Posts
    5,468

    Lightbulb

    It also may be better to use metal "flags" on the bottom of the posts to keep them from tilting. Concrete is good only if the surrounding soil is very solid, and/or if the bottom of the hole rests on large rocks. There are also fence post spikes that can be driven into the ground to avoid digging and disturbing the soil:

    https://www.homedepot.com/p/Simpson-...BS44/100655352



    The "flags" I was talking about can be just pieces of heavy gauge scrap metal.

  4. #24
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Big Prairie Mi.
    Posts
    2,354

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    Quote Originally Posted by wierdscience View Post
    A lot of pole barn companies are using these-
    https://www.permacolumn.com/

    Steel reinforced concrete in the ground,laminated PT treated post up top.Laminated because 2'x material is easier to treat all the way through the thickness and laminated posts are straight with no twists.
    This is the longest lasting way of doing it. If the post ever rots, it's simple to replace with no digging. Pour a footing, then use sono tube or other form to cast in place, or purchase a ready cast pier.

    If you choose to bury a post, pour a slab for the bottom, fill with gravel then pour a sloped collar, also much easier to replace than full concrete.

    Alabama shouldn't have much trouble with frost heave, so can keep the post shallow and avoid the clay if it's not too close to the surface.

  5. #25
    Join Date
    Sep 2001
    Location
    Mountain Brook, AL
    Posts
    1,189

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    I used one of the Simpson tapered post bases PStechPaul noted to replace a 28yr old post box support made of RR ties that finally
    failed. Easy to install, available at Lowes or HD in 24 and 36" lengths. They are pounded in with ~8-12" length of 4x4 that you
    put in the top and hit with a sledge. As to the 4x4, no longer being in ground contact it should last a lot longer.

    Another suggestion if you insist on burying one, look for marine grade 4x4, they have a MUCH higher level of impregnation of
    preservative as they are designed for water contact building docks etc. I suspect telephone poles are impregnated to this level
    not the level of PT at HD. Shouldn't be to hard to find a dock supplies place with the Tennessee R so close.
    Steve

  6. #26
    Join Date
    Jan 2002
    Location
    Huntsville Ala
    Posts
    5,855

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    Well Silly me! Whatever possessed me to think I could get away with just replacing that one post? The bottom end of the stringers, which rested in dirt, were rotted to the point that I'm having to rebuild the entire stairs.

    When the stairs were originally built it was put together as a unit before lifting it into place.

    What was probably a 2x6 connecting all three stringer bottoms was either embedded, or later sank, into the ground. Only a few rotted fragments and some rusty nails are left to tell the story. This time I'm going to rest those bottom ends on square concrete pavers to keep them out of the dirt.

    I'm going to simply set the post in gravel. As others have said/implied, I think it is the direct contact with dirt that permits the decay. I bought a couple bags of Sakrete pea gravel at Lowes, But I'm thinking it might compact tighter by mixing in some coarser gravel/rocks. The Sakrete stuff looks to be mostly round, smooth surface, whereas it would seem more angular surfaces would lock together tighter. What say ye?

  7. #27
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
    Location
    USA MD 21030
    Posts
    5,468

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    You might consider pounding a length or rebar into the soil at the bottom of the hole, and boring a deep hole in the bottom of the post. That should greatly help stabilize it and keeping it oriented as you backfill with gravel. I have done something similar with concrete block foundation piers for sheds and decks. I dig the hole deep enough for two or three blocks, depending on the solidity of the soil. I pour a few inches of concrete, lay the first block, pound some rebar into the block cavities. Then I make sure it's level, lay on the second and third block with mortar, fill the voids with concrete, and add a 1/2" anchor as needed. Then I fill in the soil around the post and tamp it down.

    It might not meet code for a deck, but the one I built around 2001 is still solid. The posts are 6x6 pressure treated and are bolted to anchors in the concrete blocks. I used lag bolts to fasten a 2" x 8" x 16" piece of PT to the bottom of the posts, and then bolted that to the concrete anchors. Avoiding direct ground contact is the trick.

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