Title:
Modular deck apparatus and method
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An apparatus for a deck includes a first upright post, a cross member attached to the first upright post, and an elongated modular joist unit, which includes at least two spaced joists. The elongated joist unit is attached to the cross member. The modular joist unit is attached to a surface on an edifice. Decking material is attached to the modular joist unit. The decking material can be a modular decking unit that includes a plurality of decking members. The modular joist unit includes a first end plate and a second endplate, one of which can include a curved surface. The modular joist unit can include brackets for receiving and attaching guardrail posts about the perimeter of the modular joist unit. The modular joist unit can have a locking mechanism for attaching to the edifice. The joists of the modular joist unit can also have tabs to facilitate attaching the decking material from beneath the decking surface.



Inventors:
Fuhr, John C. (New Brighton, MN, US)
Application Number:
10/243477
Publication Date:
03/18/2004
Filing Date:
09/13/2002
Assignee:
FUHR JOHN C.
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
52/648.1
International Classes:
E04B1/00; E04B5/12; E04F11/18; E04F15/02; E04F15/04; E04F19/00; (IPC1-7): E04H12/00
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
A, PHI DIEU TRAN
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
SCHWEGMAN LUNDBERG & WOESSNER, P.A. (MINNEAPOLIS, MN, US)
Claims:

What is claimed is:



1. An apparatus for a deck comprising: a first upright post;. a cross member attached to the first upright post; an elongated modular joist unit comprising at least two spaced joists attached to the cross member.

2. The apparatus of claim 1 further comprising a second upright post, the cross member attached to the first upright post and the second upright post.

3. The apparatus of claim 1 further comprising a modular decking unit comprising a plurality of decking members attached to the modular joist unit.

4. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the modular joist unit includes a first end plate and a second endplate, wherein one of the first endplate and the second endplate further comprise a curved surface.

5. The apparatus of claim 1 further comprising a deck unit attached to the modular joist unit with a fastener.

6. The apparatus of claim 1 further comprising an individual deck unit attached to the modular joist unit with a fastener, the fastener attached to the modular joist unit and then to the individual deck unit.

7. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the joists of the modular joist unit further comprise a plurality of tabs adapted to receive fasteners, the fasteners passing through the tabs and then into a decking material traversing the joists of the modular joist unit.

8. The apparatus of claim 7 wherein the decking material comprises a modular decking unit having a plurality of individual planks.

9. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the modular joist unit includes a first end plate and a second endplate, wherein one of the first endplate and the second endplate is adapted for attachment to a substantially vertical surface of an edifice.

10. The apparatus of claim 9 wherein one of the first endplate and the second endplate includes a locking mechanism for attachment to a substantially vertical surface of an edifice.

11. The apparatus of claim 9 wherein one of the first endplate and the second endplate has openings therein for receiving fasteners to attach the one of the first endplate and the second endplate to a substantially vertical surface of an edifice.

12. The apparatus of claim 2 further comprising a second elongated modular joist unit attached to the cross member, wherein the second elongated modular joist unit is attached to the first modular joist unit.

13. The apparatus of claim 2 further comprising a weather proofing means attached to one of the first end plate or the second end plate.

14. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the elongated modular joist unit is formed of a non-wood material.

15. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the elongated modular joist unit includes a perimeter surface having means for connecting guardrail posts thereto.

16. A method for assembling a deck comprising: attaching a first upright to a first anchor point; attaching a second upright to a second anchor point; attaching a cross beam to the first upright and the second upright; and connecting an elongated modular joist unit having at least two joists to the cross beam.

17. The method of claim 16 further comprising attaching the elongated modular joist unit to an edifice.

18. The method of claim 17 herein attaching the elongated modular joist unit to an edifice includes locking an end plate of the elongated modular joist unit to a face plate on an edifice.

19. The method of claim 16 further comprising attaching decking material to the modular joist unit, wherein the fasteners pass through a portion of the modular joist unit and into the decking material

20. The method of claim 19 wherein the decking material is a decking unit having at least two decking planks to the modular joist unit.

21. A method for forming a deck comprising: substantially leveling a surface; placing a first elongated modular joist unit comprising at least two spaced joists onto the level surface; placing a second elongated modular joist unit comprising at least two spaced joists onto the level surface; and attaching decking material to the first elongated modular joist unit and the second elongated modular joist unit.

Description:

TECHNICAL FIELD

[0001] Embodiments of the invention relate generally to decks for houses, residential dwellings, cottages and cabins. More particularly, the embodiments of the invention relate to a modular deck apparatus and method.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

[0002] Many residences, cabins and cottages now have a deck attached directly to the house. A deck provides additional recreational space for enjoying the outdoors. Many decks provide space for grilling as well as for outdoor furniture used for relaxing. Others use a deck for sunbathing or other recreational purposes. Many decks are elevated above the ground and provide users with an elevated view of the real estate near the deck.

[0003] There are problems with associated with conventional decks. Most decks are “stick built.” In other words, the deck is built one board at a time. This is a time consuming process. Deck framing is typically built on site with pressure-treated lumber. Until recently, most treated wood contained arsenic. Arsenic has been determined to be harmful to humans. Thus, it is being phased out as a wood preservative. A treated lumber frame will last from 10-20 years. Then it will need to be replaced.

[0004] In most instances, a face plate is attached to the residence. The face plate is sealed against the elements, such as by placing a drip cap over the face plate. Initially, openings in the ground are made at very specific locations. The openings are also dug to a very specific depth to provide footings for the deck. The openings are filled with concrete and a connector is placed into the concrete. In some instances, upright posts are attached to the connectors in the concrete and cross members or stringers are placed onto the posts at a height substantially equal to the header on the side of the residence. In some instances, the connectors are not provided in the concrete and the upright merely sits atop the concrete. Joists are then attached to the header and the cross member. Specific joist hangers are used to attach the joists to the face plate and cross member. The joists are placed approximately 16 inches on center. This is a labor-intensive process. The weight of each joist makes it difficult to construct prefabricated, modular sections. Some modular wood systems have been developed, but they require many additional support posts and do not allow for the use of long decking planks due to the weight of the sections.

[0005] After the framing is complete, the decking is attached. The most common method for attaching the decking is from the top into the wood frame using nails or screws. Some manufacturers of non-wood decking have designed methods for attaching the decking from the topside without exposing any fastener heads. In addition, various steel hardware systems were recently developed to allow the decking to be attached from the underside by attaching it to the framing and then to the decking. Railings and stairs are attached last. One problem associated with attaching the decking material from the top of the deck to the joists is that nails or screws can then pop up at a later date. These pop ups can wreck havoc on users feet. The pop ups can also snag a paint brush or roller which is used to periodically stain or seal the deck.

[0006] Many of the decks are made from wood. Wood has a limited life span and also requires more maintenance than other materials in order to extend the life of the deck. For example, it is generally recommended that the homeowner stain and seal a deck every other year in order to extend the life of the deck. Staining and sealing the deck also renews the appearance of the deck since they are typically made of wood.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0007] An apparatus for a deck includes a first upright post, a cross member attached to the first upright post, and an elongated modular joist unit, which includes at least two spaced joists, attached to the cross member. The apparatus for a deck can also include a second upright post. In this embodiment, the cross member is attached to the first upright post and the second upright post. Attached to the modular joist unit is a modular decking unit that includes a plurality of decking members. The modular joist unit includes a first end plate and a second endplate. In some embodiments one of the first endplate and the second endplate includes a curved surface. A deck unit is attached to the modular joist unit with a fastener. In some embodiments, the individual deck unit is attached to the modular joist unit, and then to the individual deck unit.

[0008] In some embodiments, the modular joist unit further includes a plurality of tabs adapted to receive fasteners. The fasteners pass through the tabs and then into a decking material that traverses the joists of the modular joist unit. In some embodiments, flanges are formed on each side of the modular joist. Slotted or oblong openings are placed in the flange to allow materials attached to the flange to move in the event there is a thermal coefficient of expansion mismatch. In some embodiments, the decking material comprises a modular decking unit that includes a plurality of individual planks.

[0009] The modular joist unit includes a first end plate and a second endplate. In some embodiments, one of the first endplate and the second endplate is adapted for attachment to a substantially vertical surface of an edifice. In some embodiments, one of the first endplate and the second endplate includes a locking mechanism for attachment to a substantially vertical surface of an edifice. In another embodiment, one of the first endplate and the second endplate has openings therein for receiving fasteners to attach substantially vertical surface of an edifice. In some embodiments, a second elongated modular joist unit is also attached to the cross member. The second elongated modular joist unit is attached to the first modular joist unit. In some embodiments, a weather proofing device is attached to one of the first end plate or the second end plate. The material of the elongated modular joist unit can be a non-wood material.

[0010] A method for assembling a deck includes attaching a first upright to a first anchor point, attaching a second upright to a second anchor point, attaching a cross beam to the first upright and the second upright, and connecting an elongated modular joist unit having at least two joists to the cross beam. The method can further include attaching the elongated modular joist unit to an edifice. Attaching the elongated modular joist unit to an edifice includes locking an end plate of the elongated modular joist unit to a face plate on an edifice. The method also includes attaching decking material to the modular joist unit, wherein the fasteners pass through a portion of the modular joist unit and into the decking material. In some embodiments, the decking material is a decking unit having at least two decking planks to the modular joist unit.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0011] FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a deck attached to a residential structure according to an embodiment of the invention.

[0012] FIG. 2 is a bottom perspective view of a deck which includes a cross member attached to an upright post according to an embodiment of this invention.

[0013] FIG. 3 is a bottom perspective view of a deck which includes a cross member attached to a first upright post and a second upright post according to an embodiment of this invention.

[0014] FIG. 4 is a perspective view of a modular joist unit according to an embodiment of this invention.

[0015] FIG. 5 is a perspective view of a plurality of modular joist units, one of which is triangular, which are connected to one another.

[0016] FIG. 6 is a perspective view modular joist unit according to an embodiment of this invention.

[0017] FIG. 7A is a perspective view of a portion of a joist of an embodiment of the modular joist arrangement.

[0018] FIG. 7B is another perspective view of a portion of a joist of an embodiment of the modular joist arrangement.

[0019] FIG. 8 is a perspective view of the perimeter of the modular joist unit according to an embodiment of the invention.

[0020] FIG. 9 is a perspective view of a modular joist unit according to an embodiment of the invention.

[0021] FIG. 10 is a perspective view of an end plate that abuts a face plate according to an embodiment of the invention.

[0022] FIG. 11 is a perspective view of a connecting plate for attaching an endplate of a modular joist unit to an edifice according to an embodiment of the invention.

[0023] FIG. 12 is a cross sectional view of the connecting plate along line 12-12 for attaching an endplate of a modular joist unit to an edifice according to an embodiment of the invention.

[0024] FIG. 13 is a perspective view of a free-standing deck according to an embodiment of the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

[0025] In the following detailed description of the preferred embodiments, reference is made to the accompanying drawings that form a part hereof, and in which are shown by way of illustrating specific embodiments in which the invention may be practiced. The embodiments illustrated are described in sufficient detail to enable those skilled in the art to practice the teachings disclosed herein. Other embodiments may be utilized and derived therefrom, such that structural and logical substitutions and changes may be made without departing from the scope of present inventions. The following detailed description, therefore, is not to be taken in a limiting sense, and the scope of various embodiments of the invention is defined only by the appended claims, along with the full range of equivalents to which such claims are entitled.

[0026] FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a deck 100 attached to a residential structure 110 according to an embodiment of this invention. The deck 100 includes a first upright post 120 and a second upright post 122. A cross member 124 is attached between the first upright post 120 and the second upright post 122. The upright posts 120 and 122 are attached to anchor points 130 and 132. Typically, the anchor points 130 and 132 are columns of concrete that are placed into the ground to a depth below the frost line. In other words, the anchor points 130 and 132 include the footings for the deck 100. The deck includes one or more modular joist units 200, 202, 204. The modular joist units 200, 202, 204 are attached to the cross member 124. The modular joist units 200, 202, 204 are also attached to one another. Attached to the modular joist units 200, 202, 204 is decking material 150. The decking material 150 can be in the form of individual planks or in the form of modular decking units which include at least two individual planks. The upright posts 120, 122 are connected to the anchor points 130, 132 by one of several methods. For example, the posts 120, 122 can be set into concrete associated with anchor points 130, 132. In another embodiment, L-shaped bolts are placed into the wet concrete forming the anchor points 130, 132. After the concrete associated with the anchor points 130, 132 has set, a U-shaped bracket can be placed or bolted onto a threaded end of the L-shaped bolt to hold the C-shaped bracket in place. The C-shaped bracket typically has openings therein so that the post 120, 122 can be bolted to the C-shaped bracket.

[0027] FIG. 2 is a bottom perspective view of a deck which includes a cross member attached to an upright post 220 according to an embodiment of this invention. A cross member 124 is attached to the upright post 220. A first stiffening brace 222 and a second stiffening brace 224 are attached between the cross member 124 and the upright 220. Elongated modular joist units 200, 202, 204 are attached to the cross member 124. Each modular joist unit includes a first end plate and a second end plate. Rather than describing each of the modular joist units, one modular joist unit 200 will be described in detail with the understanding that the other two joist units 202, 204, shown within FIG. 2, are similar to modular joist unit 200. Modular joist unit 200 includes a first end plate 230 and a second end plate 232. The end plate 232 is dimensioned so that it corresponds or fits over a face plate 140 which may be found on a resident's cottage or house.

[0028] As shown in FIG. 2, the height of the end plate 232 is greater than the height of the end plate 230 since the end plate 232 is dimensioned to fit over a standard face plate which is typically attached to a cottage or residence. In some embodiments, the end plate 232 and the end plate 230 would have substantially similar heights. In this other embodiment, the end plate 232 would attach to an existing face plate, such as 140. The end plate 232 has a C-shaped cross section which fits directly over the face plate 140 of an edifice or building. The top portion of the end plate 232 is at an angle so that water associated with rain or melting snow will be deflected away from the residence to which it is attached. In other words, the end plate 232 includes a built-in flashing which will keep the elements away from the existing face plate on an edifice, such as a building, residence, cottage or cabin. The modular joist units attach to one another. In this particular embodiment, the face plate from an adjacent modular unit butts up against the end of a face plate from an adjoining modular unit. A sleeve or connecting plate can be used to attach the adjacent modular joist units 200, 202, 204. Such a sleeve is shown as elements 240 and 242 in FIG. 2. Sleeve 240 connects the ends of the face plates associated with modular joist unit 200 and adjacent modular joist unit 202. Sleeve 242 connects the ends of the face plate associated with modular unit 202 and the end plate of adjacent modular joist unit 204. In another embodiment of the invention the endplate 230 is formed of tubular stock. Another tubular portion fits within the tubular stock to connect the modular joist unit 202 with an adjacent modular joist unit 204. In the embodiment shown in FIG. 2, the joists of the modular joist units 200, 202, 204 are spaced away from one another. In other embodiments, the modular joist units are formed with joists on the perimeter of the modular joist unit and the modular joist units are connected to one another by bolting one modular joist unit to another modular joist unit thereby creating a doubling of the joists at the perimeter of the modular joist units. The modular joist units could also separated and an individual joist could be placed between the modular joist units to separate them. An additional endplate can be used to tie the joist units together. Regardless of the arrangement of the modular joist units, a decking material 150 is then attached between the modular decking units 200, 202, 204 to form the basic deck surface. As mentioned previously, the decking material may be individual planks of either wood or another artificial decking material. In another embodiment, the decking material may be a modular decking unit that includes at least two or more planks already attached to one another.

[0029] FIG. 3 is bottom perspective view of a deck which includes a cross member attached to a first upright post 120 and a second upright post 122, and a third upright post 220. The deck 300, shown in FIG. 3, differs only slightly from the deck shown in FIG. 2. Rather than repeat the various aspects of the deck, only the differences will be discussed. The basic difference between deck 300, shown in FIG. 3, and the deck shown in FIG. 2 is that the upright 220 has been supplemented with uprights 120 and 122. This eliminates the need for the stiffening braces 222, 224.

[0030] FIG. 14 is bottom perspective view of a deck which includes a first upright post 120 and a second upright post 122, and a third upright post 220. The deck 300, shown in FIG. 14, differs only slightly from the deck shown in FIG. 2. Rather than repeat the various aspects of the deck, only the differences will be discussed. The basic difference between deck 300, shown in FIG. 3, and the deck 1400 shown in FIG. 14 is that the uprights 120, 122 and 220 are attached to the separate modular joist units. This eliminates the need for the header or cross member 124.

[0031] FIG. 4 is a perspective view of a modular joist unit 400 according to an embodiment of this invention. The modular joist unit 400 includes a first end plate 430 and a second end plate 432. Attached to the end plates 430, 432 are individual joists 410, 412, 414 and 416. In one embodiment, the modular joist unit 400 is made of a material other than wood, such as aluminum. The modular joist unit 400 can be comprised of fully welded aluminum shapes or fully welded aluminum joists. The joists can be made by various extruding, casting, forming, bending, rolling, cutting, punching, notching, drilling or other techniques. The finish on the aluminum can be anodized, painted, PVC coated, powder coated or milled. The finish can also be formed using other techniques. The advantage of using a material such as aluminum is that the modular joist unit 400 is sufficiently light to allow a person or persons to move the modular joist unit 400 into place onto a cross member 124. A person or several persons can then attach the modular joist unit 400 to a face plate or over a face plate of a residence or edifice. The modular joist unit will allow for much more efficient construction since several joist units can be merely placed atop a cross member, such as 124 and to a face plate 140 on an edifice, to form the base to which the planking material 150 can be attached. Once anchors such as 130, 132 (shown in FIG. 1) are formed and the uprights and cross beam are in place, the modular joists and decking material can be used to quickly form the basic deck structure upon which the decking material 150 will be placed.

[0032] FIG. 5 is a perspective view of a plurality of modular joist units which can be attached together to form a deck having a desired shape. FIG. 5 shows a basic deck structure 500 without the decking material. The basic deck structure is comprised of a triangularly shaped modular joist unit 510 connected to a rectangular modular joist unit 520. Both of these modular joist units 510, 520 are attached to the modular joist unit 400. The base deck structure 500 is attached to a cross member 124 which is attached to uprights 120, 122. FIG. 5 illustrates that the modular joist units can come in various shapes and sizes and can be attached to one another to form decks of various shapes.

[0033] FIG. 6 is a perspective view of another modular joist unit 610. Modular joist unit 610 includes a curved end plate 630 and a straight end plate 632. The modular joist unit 610 includes individual joist units 612, 614, 616, 618. The modular joist unit 610 also may be made of material other than wood, such as aluminum. Modular unit 610 also shows that the modular units associated with a particular deck can include curves. Although the curve associated with end plate 630 is rather gradual, it is further contemplated that either more gradual or tighter curves having a smaller radius can also be used to form various deck modules which can be linked together to form a deck having a desired shape.

[0034] FIG. 7A is a perspective view of a portion of a joist associated with a modular joist unit 710. The modular joist unit includes an end plate 732 and a first joist 712 and a second joist 714. The joist 712 includes a set of tabs 720, 721 and 722, 723. Each of the tabs 720, 721, 722, 723 includes an opening 730, 731, 733, 735. The opening 730, 731, 732, 733 is large enough to allow the main shaft of a fastener to pass through the opening 730, 731, 733, 735, but is small enough so that the upset end or enlarged end of a fastener will not pass through the opening 730, 731, 733, 735. The opening is slotted or oblong to allow different rates of thermal expansion between the attached decking material (as shown in FIGS. 1-3) and the modular joist unit 710. As a result, when a fastener is passed through the tab 720 and specifically through the opening 730 in tab 720, the main portion or main body of the fastener passes through the opening and the head catches the tab. These tabs 720, 721, 723, 723 facilitate attaching the planking material from beneath the decking material. As a result, the fasteners used to attach the decking material from beneath will not be seen on the walking surface of the deck. This is more aesthetically pleasing to the eye. In addition, the decking material can be used as a weather shield for the fasteners so as to make the deck more maintenance free over the life of the deck.

[0035] FIG. 7B is a perspective view of a portion of a joist associated with a modular joist unit 710. The modular joist unit includes an end plate 732 and a first joist 712 and a second joist 714. The joist 712 includes a first flange 750 and a second flange 752. Each of the flanges 750, 752, includes a plurality of openings, such as 754, therein. The openings 754 are large enough to allow the main shaft of a fastener to pass through the opening 754, but are small enough so that the upset end or enlarged end of a fastener will not pass through the opening 754. The opening is slotted or oblong to allow different rates of thermal expansion between the attached decking material (as shown in FIGS. 1-3) and the modular joist unit 710.

[0036] FIG. 8 is a perspective view of a modular unit 810 according to yet another embodiment of the invention. In this particular embodiment of the invention, the modular joist unit 810 includes a surface 850 corresponding to the outside perimeter of the deck that will be formed using the modular joist unit 810. A first bracket 860 and a second bracket 862 are spaced apart vertically from one another. The brackets 860, 862 are sized to receive a post 870 associated with a guard rail that will be attached or made on the outside perimeter of the deck when finished. The outside perimeter surface 850 has a second set of brackets 861, 863 which are spaced apart from the first set of brackets 860, 862. The space between the sets of brackets 860, 862 and 861, 863 are set to comply with various regulation and building codes, as well as to look aesthetically pleasing to the deck owner. The sets of brackets 861, 863 and 860, 862 also allow for faster construction of the finished deck. In essence, deck posts, such as 870, can be inserted into the bracket and further fastened to the modular joist unit 810 so that a guard rail may be more quickly constructed.

[0037] FIG. 9 shows a perspective view another embodiment of a modular joist unit 910. The modular joist unit 910 includes brackets 960, 962 positioned on an inside surface 950 of an individual joist associated with the modular joist unit 910. The individual joists that form the perimeter or outside perimeter of the deck are provided with sets of brackets 960, 962. The sets of brackets are spaced about the perimeter and are dimensioned to receive deck posts 970. Openings are made in the decking material having dimensions which are slightly bigger than the post. The decking posts 910 pass through the openings made in the decking material and into the brackets 960, 962. Additional materials, such as a railing module 990, can be placed between the posts 970 to form a guard rail. It should be noted that the railing module can be transparent, acrylic material. Furthermore, it is contemplated that the railing could be built up from separate materials in some embodiments.

[0038] FIG. 10 details the end plate 1032 which is used to abut up against a face plate of a cottage, residence or other edifice. The end plate 1032 includes openings 1040, 1041, 1042, 1043, 1044, 1045, 1046, 1047. The openings are sized so that they receive the shafts of lag bolts and yet will not allow the head of a lag bolt to pass through the openings 1040, 1041, 1042, 1043, 1044, 1045, 1046, 1047. In this way, lag bolts can be used to attach the end plate 1032 to a face plate 140 on an edifice. In other embodiments, there are different means for attaching the end plate 1032 to the face plate 140 of the edifice.

[0039] FIG. 11 is a perspective view of a connecting plate 1100 for connecting an end plate, such as 1032, of a modular joist unit to an edifice, such as a house, cottage or cabin. The connector 1100 is essentially J shaped in cross section, as shown in FIG. 11, as well as FIG. 12.

[0040] FIG. 12 is a cross-sectional view of the connecting plate or connector 1100 along line 12/12. The J-shaped connector includes openings 1102, 1103, 1104. The openings are dimensioned to receive lag bolts or a similar connector which can be fastened or attached to a building or edifice. The J-shaped connector includes a base 1110, a shortened leg 1112 and a connecting leg 1114. The shortened leg 1112 which is used to hold the end plate 1032 in the channel formed by legs 1110, 1112 and 1114. The shortened leg 1112 also includes openings or slots 1120. One slot 1120 is shown in FIG. 11. In the finished product, there will be multiple slots which are spaced apart so as to receive the individual joists of a modular joist unit.

[0041] FIG. 13 is a perspective view of a free-standing deck 1300 according to another embodiment of this invention. The free-standing deck 1300 is made of a first deck module 1310, a second deck module 1320 and a third deck module 1330. The deck modules are placed directly upon a surface, such as the ground. The ground or surface is leveled or slightly sloped and prepared for receiving the deck 1300. Once the ground or surface is prepared, deck modules 1310, 1320, 1330 are bolted or attached to one another to form a deck of a particular shape or desired shape. The modular joist units 1310, 1320, 1330 are formed of a material which will not corrode or rust, such as aluminum. Once attached to one another, a decking material can be placed upon the modular joist units 1310, 1320, 1330. The decking material does not necessarily have to be a set or series of planks but can be another material so that the deck might have an appearance similar to a concrete patio. The deck 1300 which is formed, does not have any support structure other than the support from the ground or surface on which it sits. In some embodiments, the deck can be lowered into the ground or into the surface before a decking material is placed upon the deck.

[0042] Although specific embodiments have been illustrated and described herein, those of ordinary skill in the art will appreciate that any arrangement calculated to achieve the same purpose can be substituted for the specific embodiments shown. This disclosure is intended to cover any and all adaptations or variations of various embodiments of the invention. It is to be understood that the above description has been made in an illustrative fashion, and not a restrictive one. Combinations of the above embodiments, and other embodiments not specifically described herein will be apparent to those of skill in the art upon reviewing the above description. The scope of various embodiments of the invention includes any other applications in which the above structures and methods are used. Therefore, the scope of various embodiments of the invention should be determined with reference to the appended claims, along with the full range of equivalents to which such claims are entitled.

[0043] It is emphasized that the Abstract is provided to comply with 37 C.F.R. § 1.72(b) requiring an Abstract that will allow the reader to quickly ascertain the nature and gist of the technical disclosure. It is submitted with the understanding that it will not be used to interpret or limit the scope or meaning of the claims.

[0044] In the foregoing Description of Embodiments of the Invention, various features are grouped together in a single embodiment for the purpose of streamlining the disclosure. This method of disclosure is not to be interpreted as reflecting an intention that the claimed embodiments of the invention require more features than are expressly recited in each claim. Rather, as the following claims reflect, inventive subject matter lies in less than all features of a single disclosed embodiment. Thus the following claims are hereby incorporated into the Description of Embodiments of the Invention, with each claim standing on its own as a separate preferred embodiment.