Updated: May 9
Have you ever wanted to entertain your guests outdoors, to break free from the confines of your drawing or living room and spend time with friends or relatives who might come to visit you outside? Or maybe you just want to come home from work and have some quiet time sipping coffee on your deck then perhaps now is the right time to think about building a ground level deck.
Since the deck is elevated to a height of almost a single step of a stair, they wouldn't require any ladder or railings meaning less chances and risks of injury. They don't usually require stairs or guard rails for safety although you may choose to add one or the either for ease of use or decoration, or say even as a wheelchair access since the deck is still somewhat higher up. These types of decks also usually do not require any permits. Typically decks that are under 200 square feet or shorter than 30” which are also not attached to any property don't usually need a permit; however it is still advised to check in with your local builders office.
Since they are easier to build they also cost much less than an elevated deck. Depending on the size and materials used, a ground level deck can cost upwards of about $4000. Some of the most expensive components for your average above ground deck are railings and deck stairs and since a ground level deck does not require the safety railings or a stairs to access it, these costs are mitigated. The cost to build one is much lower both in terms of material and labor.
Ground level decks are also very suitable not for only vinyl or composite decking but also stone deck tiles, specifically tanzanite stone deck tiles. These are very rigid and hold out very well with its direct exposure to sunlight, unlike wood or composite it also would not lose its color.
Before we get started there are quite a few things that need to be taken into consideration. First consider the location of where you are building your floating deck. Secondly you need to consider the terrain because tanzanite stone deck tiles are usually heavier than composite decking or wooden decking in general therefore the soil needs not to be soft so that the deck sinks overtime. If permits are required then you might require more time and cost to build a floating deck.
Building a Ground Level Step by Step
The beauty of the ground level deck lies within its simplicity. You can use any pretty area of your yard to build your deck, maybe it could be under a tree which would provide shade and even somewhere near a levee if your house is situated on a Cliff.
Step 1: Planning and Design
Consider, where would you like to put your platform deck by imagining how you will use it and assessing your terrain. Since you are not attaching the deck to your house, you would not have to worry about door clearance. However, you will need to consider the draining that goes below your deck. Does the ground slope for water properly to run-off? Building the deck so that it is ventilated will help it last longer as it would make sure that no water is trapped and damages the joists and the extended superstructure of the deck.
Step 2: What type of Material will you Use?
A ground level deck is quite obviously meant to be low which means you will have to consider the material that you will be using for framing as the bottom of the deck will come in contact with the ground. If the bottom of your deck frame is less than 6” above the ground or partially buried. You could use composite deck boards or tanzanite tiles.
Step 3: Consider Ground Level Deck Ventilation
The ground beneath a platform deck will become flooded. Sustained moisture is a ground-level deck's worst enemy, as it leads to mold, rot, and decay. Make sure your deck is built high enough to allow for ventilation and allow the earth to dry out. Your deck will last longer this way. If a deck is less than 12 inches off the ground, the perimeter of the deck must be open to allow free air to circulate beneath it.
Step 4: Plan the Foundation and Leveling
Place concrete blocks at the deck's corners to provide a simple foundation. For better drainage, you can alternatively build your building on top of gravel. After that, stakes will be placed in the ground, and stakes will be used to string the perimeter and a line level will be hung. You're ready to go on to the next stage once you've confirmed that your deck shape is level.
Step 5: Lay the Beams
Place the deck beams on top of the concrete blocks, making sure they're high enough to allow for ventilation. These beams will be used to frame your ground-level deck. After that, take diagonal measurements and tap the beams to align them. Temporary stretchers (a temporary wooden framework that holds up the beams) are a fantastic concept for holding the beams in place. If necessary, install pressure-treated shims beneath the beams to maintain them level. To level the ground, you may wish to add more gravel.
Step 6: Attach Anchors/Joists
Once your beams are level, attach angle brackets at the corners of the deck where joists and beams meet. These will add additional support at the corners of your ground level deck. Once again, use your string level to assess the evenness of your terrain and deck.
Step 7: Attach inner Joists
Fasten the joists into the beam faces at regular intervals with joist hangers. Make careful to follow the decking manufacturer's recommended spacing. This gives you a fair concept of how the decking will lay and adds stability. If you're going to add steps, think about where you're going to put them.
Step 8: Lay the Decking
Take the first length of the decking, put it in line with the outside edge so it's even. Then, install your decking boards perpendicular to the joist while you make sure they are well secure. Make sure to gap the boards for proper ventilation. Check the manufacturer's recommendation for gapping.
Step 9: Trim the Edges
Once the decking is installed , use a circular saw trim on the overhang to make your decking neat and even.
You can now add steps to your deck if you want to or if that is the aesthetic that you are going for. What's left of your deck is for you to just kick back , relax and enjoy your hard work.