Once you have a design for your deck build, the first step for your deck build is to dig the holes and pour the concrete footings and sonotubes.
For the entire deck build, this was the part that I was dreading. I knew nothing about digging holes and pouring concrete footings and sonotubes for a deck. But fortunately, Tony had a plan and it went surprisingly well.
We ordered all our deck material from Morrisburg Building Centre and had it delivered on April 7. That weekend we went ahead and officially started building by starting with the concrete deck footings and sonotubes.
1. Dig the holes
Depending on your type of soil, there are several different options for digging your holes. You can use a post hole auger, which is probably the easiest if you have sandy soil. Our soil has a lot of rocks in it and the post hole auger wouldn’t have worked very well.
We decided to rent a mini-excavator instead, since we had a few other projects that we could use it for at the same time. Also, I think Tony liked the idea of trying out a new toy. Tony dug six holes for the footings on the Friday of that weekend. Yes, the lawn was a huge mess at this point,but at least it wasn’t raining that day.
2. Frame the footings
On Saturday we built 2′ x 2′ frames for the footings using 2″ x 6″ pressure treated lumber. The holes had to be a little over 4 feet deep to make sure that no frost could get under the footings. We had to place the footings exactly centred where the 6 deck posts would go, and make sure they were perfectly level. Let me tell you, it was not as easy as it sounds. The string work took a bit of time to set up, but when your husband is a perfectionist you can bet that it’s going to be done right.
3. Pour the footings and add rebar
We also ordered the portland cement from Morrisburg Building Centre, and a load of gravel delivered for the concrete. Doing a big project likes this during a pandemic can make tool rental a little more difficult. Instead of renting a concrete mixer for this project, we were able to find a used mixed that we bought. We got a good little routine going where I mixed up the concrete, and Tony poured it into the footings. After pouring and leveling the cement, Tony put in a piece of rebar to connect the footings to the sonotube.
4. Pour the sonotubes
The next day once the footings were mostly dry, we put the cardboard sonotubes over the rebar, centred them in the footings and under the string lines, and made sure they were level. Then we also braced them in both directions using 2″ x 4″s. Then we mixed up the concrete and shoveled it into the sonotubes. Before the concrete was dry Tony, put a few long pieces of rebar in the sonotubes, and also the metal plate for the deck posts to sit on.
5. Backfill the sonotubes
After letting the concrete cure for about a day, Tony backfilled them using the mini excavator.
Whew, that was a lot of work, but I definitely learned a lot over that weekend about how to pour concrete deck footings and sonotubes. Next week is the the deck posts and framing.
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