Building a Floating Deck: All You Need to Know
A floating deck is not attached to a building and “floats” above the ground. Also called “grade-level” decks because they’re built just above the grade, floating decks aren't supported by in-ground piers. Instead, a freestanding deck only uses deck blocks for the foundation. The simplicity of its design and construction makes floating decks a possibility for DIYers who have the right tools and knowledge, and an affordable option when you call in the pros for floating deck construction.
Advantages of Building a Floating Deck
A floating deck offers numerous advantages compared to traditional pier-supported decks. Here's why building a freestanding deck is easier to build and less expensive:
- Floating decks don't require frost-depth footings because the deck blocks sit on top of the soil.
- Deck blocks allow building a floating deck on uneven ground.
- Because there is no digging or excavating, you'll spend less on materials and equipment and skip the back-breaking work.
- You won't have to buy concrete, mix it, or clean up the mess after the build.
- You won't risk hitting a sewage pipe or service cable by digging holes for the piers.
- There's no need for handrails because the deck is close to the ground.
- Because a floating deck is ground level, repairing and maintaining it is convenient and relatively easy.
One plus of a floating deck is that you might not need to get a permit to build it. Be sure to check with your local building codes, but the International Residential Code says you won’t need a permit for your floating deck if your project meets the following criteria:
- It takes up fewer than 200 square feet
- It’s not more than 30 inches above the ground
- It’s not attached to your house
- It’s not in front of an egress door
However, always check with your local building codes first to ensure compliance. You can also contact a professional handyman for information on whether you need a building permit, and to ensure that your deck is built to code. You don’t want to run the risk of putting up a deck only to have to dismantle it later, and possibly even pay a fine.
A floating deck is easy to build for DIYers who have the right tools and knowledge. It’s also easy to care for and has “built-in” mobility because it can be disassembled and moved. Try that with a conventional elevated deck!
What Materials Do I Need To Build a Floating Deck?
Whether you're building a floating deck yourself or hiring professionals, most of the cost to build a deck lies with material prices. For those with the tools and knowledge to build a floating deck on their own, here is a basic list of building supplies to get started:
You can use gravel, pavers, sand, and other material to create a stable base for your deck blocks and deck. Ensure that your base is installed with drainage in mind to prevent pooling, which can create significant problems.
Deck blocks are pre-formed composite blocks that support the sub-frame. They fit the most common joist and post sizes and keep your new deck away from ground moisture.
The sub-frame for your deck requires framing lumber for moisture-resistant posts and joists. Even with the clearance of the deck blocks, the proximity to the ground calls for extra protection.
The decking material for your new deck will endure a lot over the years, so choose your decking wisely. Don’t try to save a few pennies by using materials that won’t last as you’ll end up needing to replace those much sooner and it will cost you more in the long run. Inexpensive materials can also break easily leading to safety concerns for your family. Choose quality materials that not only last longer, but provide better security against breakage.
The size and construction of the deck screws will depend on the construction material of the deck boards, their thickness, and other factors. Always buy high-quality decking screws, or you could see all your hard work slowly unravel! You'll also need a box of galvanized nails for the joist hangers.
Small but mighty joist hangers connect the deck joist to the rest of the sub-frame. They help the joists support the weight above and evenly distribute it for a strong, secure foundation.
Always use pressure-treated lumber for building a floating deck frame. If you can find ground contact pressure-treated lumber, that’s even better. The extra processing these building materials undergo protects them from moisture deterioration, an additional threat because floating decks are so close to the ground.
As for decking material, many kinds of lumber are suitable for outdoor structures, such as redwood and cedar. You can also use pressure-treated lumber or southern yellow pine for the decking. The composite decking material is also popular thanks to its durability and low maintenance. It won’t bend, crack, splinter, or warp, which are more reasons homeowners love it.
How Much Does It Cost to Build a Floating Deck?
The cost to build a floating deck will vary depending on a variety of factors, including where you live, the size of your floating deck, as well as what materials you use. In particular, what lumber you use will significantly affect your cost. The square foot of redwood is about half what you’ll pay for composite materials; pressure-treated lumber will cost much more than either of these. Check with a professional to determine what materials would be best for your deck needs.
Get Started on Your Floating Deck Today!
Building a floating deck requires significant knowledge and the right tools. You may not get it right the first time around, resulting in extra cost and time. Save time and money by looking to the professionals instead. When you hire Mr. Handyman® for floating deck installation, you get a professional carpenter with an average of 10 years of experience. You also get the Neighborly Done Right Promise™ for peace of mind and guaranteed professional results. Request service or call your local Mr. Handyman today.