Precast Concrete Deck Piers

Precast Concrete Deck Pier Advantages and Disadvantages

By Mark J. Donovan

One of the key ingredients to every successful deck construction project is properly installed deck footings or deck piers. Concrete deck piers or footings should be installed so that their bases are situated below the frost line of the local area.

The depth of a footing hole can vary anywhere from 12 to 60 inches depending upon where you live. In northern climates, such as New Hampshire for example, the frost line can run as deep as 36 to 48 inches.

Precast Concrete Deck Pier Advantages

Precast concrete deck piers are a great alternative to using sonotubes. As their name implies, precast concrete deck piers are ready made combination deck footings and deck pillars all in one.

The ones I used on one of my deck projects were 54 inches tall. They were placed 48 inches into the ground so that they were below the frost line for my local area. This left 6 inches of the concrete deck piers above the finished grade for mounting the deck posts.

One of the main advantages of using precast concrete deck footings is that unlike sonotubes, precast concrete deck piers won’t degrade due to exposure to inclement weather, which is a common concern with building materials on a job site. If a sonotube gets wet, prior to setting it in place and pouring the concrete, the sonotube can potentially fail when the concrete is poured into it.

In addition, precast concrete deck piers are fabricated with a very wide base for providing increased weight bearing support. 

 Use of pre-cast concrete piers in deck construction.

They also have a threaded insert cast on their tops for easily connecting deck posts to them.

Precast Concrete Deck Pier Disadvantages

The one big disadvantages of using precast concrete deck pillars is that you need an excavator to dig the hole for them, and to lift and set them in place. Consequently they may not be a great alternative for a DIY deck installation project on an existing home.

The only other slight disadvantage with them is in accurately placing them so that they are plumb and level, and situated exactly under the locations for the deck posts. Once they are put into place, backfilled, and the excavator has left the site, it is extremely difficult and costly to move them. Consequently, it is important to know in advance exactly where they need to be placed.

Where to Buy Precast Concrete Piers

Precast concrete deck piers can often be purchased from precast concrete suppliers who make concrete septic tanks and drainage pipes.

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Precast Concrete Deck Pier Blocks

Precast concrete deck pier blocks are another alternative to using sonotubes. A precast concrete deck pier block is designed to be placed into the top of a concrete footing while the concrete footing is still wet.

To install a precast concrete deck pier block, simply pour concrete into the footing until the concrete is within a couple of inches from the top of the finished grade and then place the deck pier block on top of the poured footing.

Push the concrete deck pier block several inches into the concrete footing and use a torpedo level to make sure the deck pier block is plumb and level on top. It is also critical that the deck pier block be properly aligned.

Use a plumb bob to help with the proper alignment of the deck pier block. Gently tap the pier block to put it in proper alignment.

Repeat this process on all the required deck pier blocks for the deck project and then allow them to set up for 24 hours before continuing on with the deck construction project.

For help on building a deck, see’s Deck Installation Bid Sheet. The Deck Installation Bid Sheet will teach your how to hire the right deck contractor, and help to ensure that your deck project is completed on time and budget.

Related Information

Additional Deck Building and Design Resources

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