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Concrete Decks


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By Andrew in Corpus Christi, TX on 7/11/2004


Has anyone out there built any decks or balconies out of concrete? I am planning a house to be built out of ICF's. Most likely will use Reward Wall Systems. I will be meeting with my designer soon and have seen some interesting construction methods online. The technique used is to utilize a corrugated steel base with forming that results in an integral structural beam around the perimeter of the deck.

One contractor who posted claims that he can build concrete decks for about the same price as wood. Considering the durability of concrete and the choices of finishes now available (stamped, stained, routed etc...) going this route seems almost a no-brainer. I will be building Mediterranean style with a stucco exterior. Building my forms from Hardie Board and stuccoing to match the house would serve to create a very maintenance-free structure.

My guess is that is that concrete and cement composite materials are at least as compatible as is wood with no need to remove after pouring. Support columns could be crafted from steel beams or concrete block and covered/coated to match the rest of the house. I would very much appreciate any advice and/or comments from other owner-builders, designers, or engineers who follow this forum. Let me know what you think.
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By Dan in Peyton, CO on 8/13/2004


Went to the Parade of Homes yesterday and saw several examples of concrete decks. They look awesome. They said that they use lightweight concrete over a plywood base. They can even color/ texture the concrete. I liked it a lot.
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By Andrew in Corpus Christi, TX on 8/15/2004


Hi Dan,

I'm glad to hear that somebody else is out there doing what I have been contemplating. You don't know if the company that built the decks has a website? I have a good idea of how and what I want to do as you can see from my post, but I am still trying to get as much info as possible. The more pictures, drawings, and specs I can find the better because I think that concrete decks are anything but commonplace in residential construction.

You have but one chance to get something like this right, and any mistakes are as they say "set in stone". Additionally, you mentioned that the decks you saw utilized lightweight concrete. I'd be curious to learn what type of mix they used, and if they utilized any reinforcing additives.
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By Kenneth in Lees Summit, MO on 8/16/2004


I was going to use a concrete floor system suck as INSUL-DECK to build the deck on my ICF house. No matter what they claim, it is simply not cost competitive around here to do a concrete deck. Concrete stamping adds about $3.50-$5/s.f. to the cost of finished flatwork, which is about $3/s.f. For $8/s.f. just in the concrete, I can build a pretty exotic deck from Ipe wood or composite, and it should be almost as maintenance free and long lasting.
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By Andrew in Corpus Christi, TX on 8/16/2004


Ken,

I too investigated using a concrete flooring system as you did. I checked out the ICF flooring systems as well as the Hambro, and SPEEDFLOOR Systems. I have settled on using a galvanized steel floor joisting system as I can achieve a strong squeak- and warp-free floor for roughly half the cost of a concrete flooring system.

As far as the decks go, I have a friend who is a structural engineer who is willing to help me with the design, and another friend who does commercial concrete form contracting (bridges, buildings etc...). They both like my idea, but I still insist on finding out as much as I can before diving in. I'm thinking of a steel deck composite system. The forms are rather conventional and stay in place after pouring. I found a contractor in Virginia who builds his decks and balconies in a very similar fashion.

I'm in hurricane country and I want to build as maintenance free and weatherproof as possible while staying within a "reasonable" budget. ICF flooring systems have got to come way down in price and be cost competitive or they will never go mainstream and remain a niche product. Ditto for the composite steel/concrete joisting systems like Hambro, and SPEEDFLOOR. They are all real proud of their products and charge accordingly.
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By John in Erie, CO on 8/21/2004


I suppose it depends on the area. A guy who has been helping me build his ICF house found that SPEEDFLOOR is within $1 of conventional steel beam/TJI framing for his house, so I'm not sure they are that out of line when you look at the whole project. Obviously, regional labor and material costs can change the value a lot.

It's also common to pour lightweight concrete toppers on a well-built conventional deck here, with the deck being decked with 3/4" treated plywood prior to pouring the 1/5" topper, and the whole works sloped for drainage.
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