Depth of posts for front porch steps in downtown Toronto

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Posted by: from Toronto
9/23/2016 at 8:38:02 AM

I live in downtown Toronto near Bloor and Dufferin Streets. I want to move a set of 5-steps stairs that lead to my existing front porch 3' to the left, from the middle of the pad to the side (still facing forward) so they are aligned in front of the entry door. There will be no changes to the existing porch except to move the rails.

The top will be attached to/hung from the existing porch, so two new footer posts need to be set. My contractor says he is only going to dig 18" for these new stringer landing areas. That doesn't seem nearly deep enough to me. I thought 3' was the norm. How deep should they be?

Or, have I misunderstood and the stringer landing at the street level isn't a post at all, just a solid footing area?

(Yes, I have had all the underground services marked already. Yes, I have a permit, but it is old)

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Date/Time9/23/2016 at 9:18:02 AM

There's no real norm... it all depends on your frost line. We're I'm from pei so for the most part ours goes in 4ft. 18" is very shallow I haven't done much work in your area but that doesn't seem deep enough. Just find out what your frost line average is and put it in lower than that.

Hope that helps some.

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Date/Time9/23/2016 at 9:58:52 AM

18" under some wood steps would be fine in our area. I'm just outside Ottawa and in business over 20 years and never had problems.

Minimum frost depth Ottawa/Toronto is 5 ft.+ This is what you would require for support piers for your porch or deck or a house addition. It is only for frost movement. stairs do not normally move very much, unless

there is a lot of rocks/boulders in the soil.

As long as it is dug to undisturbed soil packed with gavel and patio stones are in place the bottom of the stringers should be fine. Insure however they are all tied together either across the bottom or the backside of the stringers. Worst scenario if you truly feel these steps will move to much in the frost, attach them to the porch on the underside of the top step/stringer only with large galvanized hinges.

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Date/Time9/23/2016 at 12:44:49 PM

The Ontario building code requires all deck and porch footings to be 48" below grade on undisturbed soil. 18" does not cut it that's cutting corners and may cause frost heave down the road.

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James from Deckster Decks in Scarborough
Date/Time9/28/2016 at 10:00:43 PM

If your stairs are resting on a pad, then they are considered floating - meaning they will move with ground when it freezes. This is perfectly allowable under OBC.

If you set the posts for the handrail below the frost line, it's going to cause issues as the stairs themselves will want to move, but the posts won't.

To create a strong lower post connection, install a brace across the back of the stringer to lock the backs together and close the front of the stringer with a 2x toe kick-not a fence board.

When I build my stairs, I also double up the end stringers and slip the post between the two and bolt them through. The Extra stringer also allows you to mitre the corner on the step, giving a nice clean look.

Once all of the treads and toe kicks are on, the post will have zero wobble.

Depth of posts for front porch steps in downtown Toronto

Depth of posts for front porch steps in downtown Toronto

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