How to Build a Ground Level Deck
Have you dreamed of entertaining guests outdoors? Or enjoying some quiet time, sipping coffee on your deck Then perhaps it’s time to think about building a ground level deck.
Ground level decks (also called a floating deck or a platform deck) are decks that are close to the ground. When decks are less than 30” above grade, they’re usually easier to build for three reasons.
- They don’t require ladders or railings (less risk of injury)
- They usually don’t require stairs or guard rails for safety (Though you may choose to add one or both for ease of use and/or decoration.)
- They may not require a permit. Typically, decks under 200 square feet and/or shorter than 30 inches high that are unattached to a property do not require a permit. (Just to be safe, however, check with your local builder’s office to be sure you’re not in violation of any codes in your area or neighborhood.)
Easier to build can also mean lower costs than an elevated deck. Depending on the size and materials used, a ground level deck can cost upwards of $4,000. Some of the most expensive components for a deck are railings and stairs. Since a ground level deck does not require safety railings or stairs to access, the cost to build one is comparatively lower than building an elevated deck in terms of both materials and labor.
Ground level decks set outdoor living spaces apart and give you a beautiful area to add chairs, potted plants, and even a grill for entertaining. It provides you with a level of space to enjoy your property and time outdoors.
However, there are a few things to know before you start building your own ground level deck. As with all DIY projects, the success is in the planning. There are many different types of ground level decks, including decks that require footings and those that are attached to your home. However, just in case this is your first DIY home project, we’re going to keep it simple.
We’ll walk you through step-by-step directions for how to build a platform deck that isn’t attached to the house and uses a simple foundation. Follow this tutorial and you’ll be enjoying your own ground level deck before you know it!
Building A Ground Level Step-By-Step
The beauty of a ground level deck lies within its simplicity. You can choose a pretty area of your yard to build your deck and admire the view. Or, you can also dress it up with pavers back to your house if you want a more polished, elegant look. The choice is up to you and your own personal backyard aesthetic.
Step 1: Planning and Design
Consider where you’d like to put your platform deck by imagining how you’ll use it and assessing your terrain. Since you’re not attaching the deck to your house, you don’t have to worry about door clearance. However, you will need to consider drainage below your deck and potentially if you should add a slope to your deck. Does the ground slope for water run-off? Building the deck so it’s well-ventilated will help it last longer.
Step 2: What Type of Material Will You Use?
A ground level deck is meant to be low, which means you’ll want to consider the type of wood or composite you’ll use for framing. If the bottom of your deck frame is less than 6" above the ground or partially buried, you should use pressure-treated wood that is rated for ground contact. This type of wood has a higher level of preservative that guards the wood against rot and decay.
Do you want a step or two to your platform deck? If so, consider how you’ll attach the steps because if you attach them with stringers, you don’t want to bury metal in the ground since it can corrode.
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People often wonder when the best time to build a deck is. Learn why building a deck in winter or fall might be your best bet.
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