How Can Frost Line Depth Affect your Deck in Maryland?

How Can Frost Line Depth Affect your Deck in Maryland?

Getting a new deck is quite daunting and costly. More so, if you don’t plan it well enough. If you consider building a new deck attached to your house in Maryland, you need to understand the effects of changing weather temperature on the structure of your outdoor space. As part of your planning, one thing you must guarantee is to maintain the durability and strength of your deck. You must assure that it can withstand any extreme weather conditions. Think about this. You may not want to spend a lot of money constructing a deck only to realize that it’s not sturdy enough to handle the forces of nature. Though the deck can wear and tear over time, it is essential to maximize its overall functionality. It is important that you can utilize it for a longer time.snow capped red building One crucial factor to consider is the relevance of frost line depth to the foundation and footings of your deck. This is very critical to the structure and function of your outdoor space. Even the local building guidelines provide references to assure that the foundation of your deck is anchored within the adequate frost line depth. So, let’s identify more closely how a freezing depth in Maryland can impact your plans in building a deck.   

What is a frost line?

A frost line is a maximum depth to which the water will freeze underground. Also referred to as a frost depth or freezing depth, this phenomenon happens depending on various factors. These include the soil’s heat transfer properties, the outside temperature, the heat sources identified within the area in question and the soil composition. You must keep in mind that when the groundwater changes its form from liquid to solid, its volume increases. The uplift of soil brought about by the expansion or increased presence of ice during freezing conditions will result to frost heave. The occurrence of frost heave can be damaging to any footings or foundation. This is the main reason why it is important to understand the frost line depth in your location. It is also necessary to follow the building codes even before you start your decking project. Armed with this information, it will prevent you from big problems and unnecessary expenses down the road.  

What is the frost line depth in Maryland?

Image result for house in winterFrost line depth varies from one location to another depending on the winter temperature and soil composition of the area. Based on Frost Line Penetration Map in the US, the frost line depth in Maryland is thirty (30) inches. This simply means that the footings or foundation should be properly secured.  Ideally, we recommend to secure it at least 30 inches below the surface level of the ground.  This also suggests that the underground water at 30 inches and below will not crystallize or freeze during winter or extreme cold temperature. It is essential to adhere to this frost line depth requirement, so you can assure that your building’s or deck’s foundation and footings can withstand the changing weather conditions. Before you move your decking project into construction, make sure to discuss this with your local deck builder. Also, refer to your local building codes or guidelines for additional details.  

How does the frost line affect you and your deck?

We can’t stress enough the importance of knowing the frost line depth in your area, especially if you are installing a new deck. Remember that the foundation and footings support and anchor the overall structure of your deck. So, if you don’t secure or build your deck properly and it is not installed on an adequate frost line depth, seasonal changes and extreme cold weather conditions can enormously damage your deck. This normally happens when the underground water expands causing an increase in ice presence and eventually leading to an upward swelling of the soil. The force exerted by the surrounding soil can pull up the footings or foundation from the ground. To combat this natural phenomenon, the foundation must be solidly attached below the frost line preventing a structural damage and the tendency of your deck to slide off or collapse.  The risks and damaging effects of frost heave don’t manifest through structural damages only. It will also affect your budget. Imagine how costly it is to reestablish a new deck because of a failure to adhere to the local building guidelines and proper footing installation. Not to mention that it poses safety hazards to you and your family as well.  

How to Prevent Frost Heave

The foundation and footings that support the deck should always be mold-resistant, weather- and waterproof. Though the occurrence of frost heave and its damaging effects are inevitable, you can lessen the problem through a thorough planning. As they say, “Prevention is always better than cure”. It is also helpful to seek advice from your deck builder, so they can guide you towards the process.  Though one part of the solution is to make sure that the footings are in its adequate frost line depth, there are other ways to prevent frost heave. Some local deck builders and contractors use sonotubes. Sonotubes are waxed forms or tubes which are helpful to maintain the strength of the footings. It can also avoid the surrounding soil to pull up the concrete footing from the ground. Utilizing sonotubes for footings may be necessary or not, however, it is important to consult your local deck builder. There are some possible alternative means that they can use. Some builders even create a bell-shaped structure at the bottom of the footings to prevent the surrounding soil from creating pressure towards the footings. Whichever intervention your deck builder prefers, make sure to ask the rationale behind those.  

Final Thoughts

Image result for house in winter deckAdding a new deck might possibly be a daunting project as it entails preventive planning and thorough understanding of some factors involved. It is more challenging if you’re unaware of how and where to start. Learning about frost line depth is one important thing. Getting familiar with the local building codes or guidelines, deck materials and proper footing or foundation are completely different aspects. There is always something to discover all throughout the decking process. That is why it is important to work with a skilled professional or builder to act as your advocate, making sure that all safety standards and regulations are met. At Deck Ready, we want to guarantee that your journey towards getting a fabulous outdoor space is seamless and hassle-free.  Contact us today and let’s partner together!

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