To cantilver or not to cantilever...

angelomSeptember 11, 2007

...this is the question!

For a new screened porch we're considering: Is it preferable for the 6" x 6" support beams to be flush with the walls of the porch, or can there be overhang (accomplished with a cantilever design)? I've heard varying opinions from local contractors. Some say overhangs are okay with an open deck, but for a porch that will presumably have snow/weight on the roof, the stronger design is to make the beams basically flush with the walls. Others have said that as long as the design is good, overhanging the beams by a foot or two can be accomplished without compromising long term durability or safety of the porch. An inspector with the county said they will approve cantilever plans but he stopped short of saying that type of design is as good as when the beams and walls are flush. The reason I'm considering cantilevering it is because for the width I want, this would accomplish keeping the structure centered with an entry door and bedroom window. If I don't cantilver, it will be off-center---though I think it will still look fine. One guy I talked to said even with a good design, heavy snowfall that lasts unexpectedly long can compromise the floor a bit if I have the overhanging.

Wondering what you guys think?

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I am all load bearing when I build,basic old school. I vote no cantilever. John

    Bookmark   September 11, 2007 at 7:08PM
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I don't work in snow country, but if the cantilever is designed structurally, there should be no problem.

Very few houses do not have cantilevered roofs, even in snow country.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2007 at 10:54PM
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Wow, conflicting views. I think the contractor we're likely to go with is in Mr. Hyatt's camp. The feeling I get is that many porch and deck builders are old school, like John says. There's less margin for error. With the cantilever, it seems like if it's designed correctly and well executed, there shouldn't be a problem---but if something is overlooked, there's a better chance of failure than if I go with a more basic load bearing design. This process has been very interesting. We bought the house in early 2006 and have done extensive renovations including kitchen remodeling, refinishing hardwoods and adding new hardwood floors throughout, entire new heating and air system, whole interior painting (all rooms including basement), new patio, retaining wall and walkway and more.
We always interview various contractors and get multiple quotes. With the porch and deck---there has been far more varying opinions of what we should do, what materials to use, how to design, etc. I think that guys who build decks and porches for a living have a different mentality than the contractors we used for the other work. The difference is that they are builders as opposed to remodelers. I've been very impressed with a couple of them---the pride they take in their suggestions and portfolios. Remodeling the house makes it nicer, but adding a porch and/or deck actually changes the quality living for the homeowner. My wife might disagree with me, but if I had to choose, I'd go for a new porch/deck over new appliances and floors in the house. To me, more living space trumps newer stuff.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2007 at 9:54AM
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I don't see any problem with cantilever on a porch or deck.

20+ yrs ago we added two bedrooms above a 12' x 22' kitchen and hung the addition 2' over on one side and 4' over on the other side to get two decent size bedrooms and a hallway. This is in Michigan so we get snow occasionally. The builder said 'no problem' and there never has been any problems.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2007 at 4:21PM
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