Homepage » Forums » Urban and Suburban Permaculture » concrete deck renovations??

This topic contains 9 replies, has 5 voices, and was last updated by  johnnyanojan2016 1 year, 11 months ago.

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  • #49819

    trisha
    Participant

    Hello,

    We have a really terrible concrete deck on the south side of our house. It’s all different levels, falling apart, cracked etc. Very poor work to begin with and about 25 years of freezing winters to seal its doom.

    I’ve seen some permaculture remodels where they either dug it all out as concrete slab is not really environmentally friendly in terms of water soaking into the ground. But then, just after the deck is our lawn so I figure that might be ok-ish. I’ve also seen some other re-takes where the slab is broken up and left in place, but with cracks a couple centimeters wide to allow water to soak in. . .That sounds ‘ok’ to me, although it also sounds expensive!

    My husband kind of just wants to put a wood deck over the top so at least we have a clean, neat surface to deal with, but given that there will already be time and money going into this project, I was trying to look for the best possible option from a permaculture standpoint.

    Two limitting factors: 1 we live in snow country and it is practical to have a smooth surface to sweep snow off directly in front of our house in winter. 2. We have access to our sceptic tanks through the slab–so when we put in a new system we have to consider a trap door or whatever for getting in.

    I’d love to hear ideas.

    #50738

    Jason
    Participant

    Some things to consider that you haven’t mentioned are heat. concrete reflects, holds, and emits heat. If you want to encourage more passive heating of your home, it might be a good idea to keep it in place. Perhaps break it up, but keep the thermal mass.

    Since you want a “smooth surface” for snow, a deck seems like a good idea, but this would minimize the passive solar accumulation. “snow country” doesn’t say warm summers are, so it may or may not be something you want to consider.

    You could also do a retractable deck. It would take just a little creativity.

    #51362

    dcowick
    Participant

    Hmmm, I wonder if your existing concrete might be recycled into a retaining wall on the property for the fresh start your husband favors. I used broken concrete to make a small keyhole garden and consider using my drive for a retaining wall when I lower the elevation. A fresh small concrete patio to handle the foot traffic issue might work, and allow you to avoid your septic cap incipient issue by using cement cap blocks, or pavers, or patio stone, or flagstone installed over a sand base to replace the existing patio. Width of gap would be yours to determine, but I would suggest a reinforced full material outside border to trap the rest of the patio for stability.

    #51366

    trisha
    Participant

    Jason, interesting idea about the benefits of trapping the heat in winter. It’s a little hot in the summer, but we’re working on ways to shade the area and, quite frankly, it only gets up to about 90 degrees–and that only for a couple of months.

    Dcowick–unfortunately, we looked into getting rid of the existing concrete, but digging it out would be cost prohibitive for us! But I agree, we could have used the leftovers for planters. . .

    #51381

    dcowick
    Participant

    Trisha, after reflecting further on your comments I was thinking more of your using the broken out concrete as a retainer to level your stepped patios, and the rubble to back fill the base. Maybe your patio is extensive and parts could be saved or the multiple levels are desirable, but the opportunity to place a shade structure across the south of the house and grow deciduous vines which would shade in the summer and allow sunshine through in the winter is sometimes hampered by a thin concrete slab. Your concrete sounds old or placed too wet to be deteriorating. If it is old it will probably be free of reinforcement materials, and easy to break out (hopefully in larger chunks for wall building). Breaking it into flagstone shapes would be difficult as concrete breaks more easily is you raise it a little or under dig the area first. Each piece you broke would be in the way of the next.

    I am of course not trying to talk you into anything, but pointing out the pros of a fresh start. I might not recommend removal at all if I saw your place. Yet reflecting on the oak tree story Larry Korn mentioned in one of the tapes: an old asset was re-purposed to great advantage. An old deteriorated patio re-purposed into retaining walls and garden features could work in your favor by providing free materials for projects and give yourself an opportunity to re-imagine your front yard space. For instance, do you need extensive concrete areas or could you use “some” concrete (or other materials) at the front entry and for a sitting spot for dinners or sunning? Both could be cut out of the existing slabs while removing the rest. Meanwhile you could dedicate a space for a future solar feature for your house. build an expensive or inexpensive roofed shade trellis to cover your south windows and mulch the area with decorative gravel to make the area welcoming and give new curb appeal to your property without the expense of new concrete installation costs. The same saw that isolated areas of concrete to be saved could also help divide the remaining area for easier removal.

    Since you are an active forum contributor, may I ask how many stories is your home, is there a basement or crawlspace, is it built on a slab, what materials is it made of, what is the age of the structure, and what style is it? I am afraid that I think of old world structures as stone growing out of the ground, yet it could be balloon or western frame with stucco or wood siding, a block or concrete modern unit, even a factory built modular. If I knew I might not ramble on in wrong directions when brainstorming with you (which I enjoy).

    #53508

    mphillips4387
    Participant

    I have a similar issue, a back yard RAISED deck that is concrete. I am not sure if it is hollow underneath or solid, but I’m leaning toward hollow, with reinforced concrete block for the sides. My house sits on a hillside with the front facing south and level with the street, but my basement has an outer door in the back walking out onto the concrete deck OVERLOOKING my ravine of a back yard (facing north). Hopefully that will give you a visual picture of what I am working with. The concrete is intact, however the house is almost a hundred years old and the foundation has settled in such a way that the concrete porch surface is no longer level. This has created a vernal pool situation wherein every time it rains, a shallow pond forms on my back porch, rendering it unusable. We have had several construction-type people look at it and give some suggestions, but no one wants to take it on as they are not sure what is under the porch. We have resorted to “solving” this issue by buying a floor squeegee and pushing the water over the side. Otherwise, if it sits there and evaporates…eventually, it leaves a residue which builds up and reminds me of the pictures I’ve seen of the salt flats, only black! I am considering just having it busted up and a small concrete slab placed just outside the door, then using the rubble to terrace the rather steep hillside just behind the house. Now, to convince my husband that this would be the way to go…….

    Any suggestions are most welcome.

    #56428

    trisha
    Participant

    Mary Ann, I’m trying to visualize what you’ve got there, but I was just about to post an update about using the concrete deck at our place as a foundation for a raised-bed garden–not sure if it will work well or not. And then I was thinking of puttind gravel down to help with puddles forming. I mean, the water would be down there but under the gravel, and I imagine it would have the look of a raised bed garden with a gravel path system. You could even maybe use that ‘vernal pool’ to feed a raised bed in a wicking system *assuming the whole thing isn’t above the grade of your house?* We occasionally have some pooling but it’s in an area that always drains off on it’s own–although it does tend to nicely deposit and attractive layer of dirt and crud 😉 And anyhow, the water is below our house.

    When you say you’re yard is a ravine, I think that you must value, as we do, all the flat parts that you have as potential gardening areas! It’s a bummer to see a space going to waste.

    #56445

    mphillips4387
    Participant

    I wonder if I can attach a pic here…..I’ll try When i get home. I’ll shoot it from the back yard. Hopefully that will give perspective . I think you’re stressing planting on top of the porch? Not sure how that would work. I don’t think very well. Sitting heavy rain periods it would probably hold too much water. We’d like to use it as an outdoor living space sitting nice weather without having to squeegee it off every time. I am imagining cutting out a channel from the center to slide it to drain over the side and massive catch in a barrel to water lower gardens. I plan to install a mini orchard back there in a few years.

    #56459

    mphillips4387
    Participant

    Haha! sorry for all the spelling errors. i was typing from my phone, which made it hard to proof read. I don’t see where I can attach a picture. We will be doing some trail stuff this spring to figure this challenge out. I’ll let you know what we come up with.

    #67430

    johnnyanojan2016
    Participant

    A major renovation is needed for that with expert of course in home improvement and repair. For materials, you can use fiberglass mesh or stucco products that would give a stronghold on your entire deck, and this idea is perfect to use on the entire interior specially for walls. See this
    http://www.sunlinemesh.com/mesh-pricelist/ for product details and pricing.

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