How Much Weight Can a Wooden Deck Hold?

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how much weight can a wooden deck hold

If you have a wooden deck, it is incredibly important that you know its weight limit. 

Knowing how much weight your deck can hold will allow you to make decisions on what you keep on it. It will also allow you to keep people safe if you have a large party with a lot of guests. 

Most decks need to be built up to the local building codes, which are usually very strict. 

For the most part, as long as your deck is built to code, it will be safe. However, once you start adding things like hot tubs, it’s essential that you know the deck’s limit. 

In this article, we have put together a guide on how much weight a wooden deck can hold. By understanding the different factors that determine this, you can make sure your deck is safe. 

Determining Your Deck’s Weight Limit: Basic Idea 

There is no one answer to the question of how much weight a deck can hold. It is highly dependent on several factors, including: 

  • Dead load and live load 
  • Joist and footing spread 
  • Wood type 
  • Weather 
While it can be difficult to know exactly how much weight your deck can hold, you can get an approximation. Knowing how this is determined can be helpful when making decisions regarding your backyard decor. 

Why Should I Know How Much Weight a Wooden Deck Can Hold?

why should i know how much weight wooden deck can hold
Knowing how much weight your deck can hold is essential for safety.

Many people want to put a hot tub on their deck without knowing if the deck is rated for that kind of weight. Water is tremendously heavy and it could be unsafe 

Knowing your deck’s weight limit is also crucial if you plan on having a lot of people out on it. 

Having a large number of people on your deck without knowing the limit is very unsafe. Even if the deck is only a few feet up, it is possible for injuries to happen in the event of a collapse. 

Dead Load Vs. Live Load 

When you are thinking about your deck’s weight limit, it’s important to consider dead load and live load. 

The weight limit on your deck will factor in both of these kinds of loads. A combination of the two will be your total weight limit. 

The dead load of your deck is the weight of the deck itself. The live load is the weight of the people or things that are on the deck. 

Usually, the live load will account for ⅘ of the total load limit of the deck. If, for example, your deck is rated for a total load of 5,000 pounds, 4,000 of this can be live load. 

Spread of the Joists and Footings  

The spread of the joists and footings on your deck is essential for its load limit. 

Most decks will have a joist span of 12 inches. This means that the joists are 12 inches apart from one another. 

However, if your deck’s joists are 16 inches apart, the load limit will go down quite a bit. This is because the weight will not be as evenly spread among the joists. 

The span of your footings will also make a difference. These are the pieces of wood and concrete that are driven into the ground that hold the deck up. 

If your footings are closer together, your deck will have a higher weight limit. This is for the same reasons that it will be higher with the joists closer together. 

In general, if your deck is properly designed, it will have a weight limit of 50 pounds per square foot. Taking the dead load off this number means it will be 40 pounds per square foot of live load. 

Type of Wood

type of wood

The type of wood that is used for your deck will also have a lot to do with how much it can hold. 

Softwoods like cedar will have a much lower weight limit than Ponderosa pine. 

Composite decking materials will also be able to hold much more weight than traditional wood. This is one of the reasons they are becoming more and more popular with contractors and homeowners.  

Type of Weather 

It is very important that you also factor in the weather when you think about a deck’s weight limit. 

If you live in an area that gets a lot of snow, this could add to your deck’s dead load. When snow piles up on the deck, you could end up having a much higher live load than you normally would. 

If you live in an area that gets a lot of rain, this could also add to the dead load. 

When wood is wet, it will weigh quite a bit more than it would when it is dry. Because of these factors, it’s important that you keep your live load well below the limit. 

Frequently Asked Questions

faq how much weight can a wooden deck hold

  • Can you put a pool on a deck?

You can put a pool on a deck, but it is important to know the weight limit. 

You will probably have the pool supported by the actual ground below the deck. However, there will still be added weight along the rim. 

  • Can you build a pergola on top of a deck?

Just like with a pool, you can add a pergola to the deck, but be mindful of the weight. 

You should also check with your region’s local building codes and zoning laws. Some areas may not allow these types of structures. 

  • Are 2x4s okay for decking?

2x4s are the standard size of deck slats and will usually be strong enough. 

However, it is possible to use 4x4s if you want a little extra support. If you are going to put a hot tub or pool on the deck, 4x4s could be a good option. 

Conclusion 

By knowing what your deck’s weight limit is, you can use it safely and securely. You can also be sure that any additions will be supported. 

While there’s no definite answer to a deck’s weight limit, knowing how it’s determined will help you keep it safe. 

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AUTHOR

Michael J. O’Connor is a writer and marketing specialist from the Bay Area of California. A graduate of Sonoma State’s Creative Writing program, he spent many years as a contractor and carpet layer, learning the ins and outs of flooring and general contracting. When he’s not typing away at his desk, he enjoys hiking with his dogs, woodworking and collecting rare books. See full biography here.

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