Creative Concept Decks

Step-by-Step Guide to Building Ground Level Decks

Are you dreaming of a cozy outdoor space to relax, entertain, or simply enjoy your backyard? Ground-level decks are the perfect answer to creating that seamless transition from indoors to outdoors. These versatile and low-maintenance string level decks can transform your yard into a functional and beautiful space for all to enjoy. So, how do you build one?

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through the process of building a ground level deck, from understanding its benefits and differences compared to floating decks to selecting the right location and materials and, finally, constructing your deck. By the end of this blog post, you’ll be equipped with the knowledge and confidence to create a stunning ground level deck in your very own backyard.

Understanding Ground Level Decks

Ground level decks are a popular choice for creating that perfect outdoor living space. They are constructed directly on the ground, providing easy access and a smooth transition from your house to your yard. Built up to 24 inches in height, these decks don’t usually require a building permit, making them a more accessible option for homeowners.

Using the right materials is key when building a ground level deck. Given their close proximity to the ground, it becomes necessary to use specially treated wood that can resist rot, decay, and insect infestation. Ventilation is also a key factor, as it helps to move moisture and avoid prolonged dampness that can lead to mold and rot.

Advantages of Ground Level Decks

Ground level decks offer numerous advantages, making them a desirable choice for homeowners. One of their primary benefits is easy access, being closer to the ground, and not requiring stairs or railings for entry. This accessibility makes them safer than raised decks, as there is a lower risk of falls from height.

Furthermore, ground-level decks enhance the aesthetic value of your outdoor space, providing a smooth transition between indoor and outdoor areas, and serving as an extension of your living area. Their flexibility in location means they can be built in any area of your yard, allowing for greater customization and integration with your landscape design.

Ground Level Deck vs. Floating Deck

Ground level decks and floating decks may seem similar at first glance, but there are key differences between the two. Ground level decks are built directly on the ground, whereas floating decks are constructed using deck boards and require deep frost footings for stability. The construction process and the materials used for each type of deck also vary, with ground level decks requiring wood that is treated for ground contact and floating decks typically using pressure-treated lumber for the frame.

In terms of cost, floating decks and structures are generally more expensive, with estimates ranging from $20 to $60 per square foot, compared to the lower cost of ground-level decks which can range from $500 for DIY projects to up to $25,000 for larger decks.

Ultimately, the choice between a ground level deck and a floating deck depends on your specific needs, budget, and preferences.

Preparing for Your Ground Level Deck Project

Prior to embarking on your ground-level deck project, it’s important to thoughtfully choose and prepare the construction site. Factors to consider when choosing a location include:

  • Terrain
  • Sun exposure
  • Proximity to the house
  • Material selection
  • Design ideas

It’s also important to check local building codes and requirements, as well as any potential underground utility lines.

Having stable, well-drained, and properly compacted soil is mandatory to establish a solid foundation for your deck. This will provide a strong base for your deck, reducing the risk of damage or instability over time. Now, let’s dive into the specifics of site selection and preparation.

Site Selection and Preparation

Selecting the ideal location for your ground level deck involves assessing several factors:

  • Terrain
  • Material selection
  • Ventilation
  • Leveling and foundations
  • Sun exposure
  • Accessibility
  • Local building codes

Once you’ve chosen the perfect spot, it’s time to prepare the ground.

Begin by clearing the ground of any grass, plants, or weeds. Rake the ground to even it out and make it level. Once you’re done, use your feet or a hand tamp tool to firmly press the soil down. If desired, lay down landscape fabric over the soil and add a layer of gravel. This will help inhibit weed growth beneath the deck and provide a stable base for the deck blocks.

Don’t forget to consider the deck’s orientation in relation to sun and wind, as this can greatly impact the comfort and enjoyment of your outdoor space.

Materials and Tools for Ground Level Decks

Having chosen and prepared the site for your ground level deck, the next step is to assemble the required materials and tools. The choice of materials will depend on your preferences, budget, and the specific requirements of your deck. Pressure-treated wood and hardwood, such as Ipe, are commonly used for ground level decks, while composite decking is an alternative option.

Besides the decking materials, you’ll also require certain tools to build your deck. Here are the tools you’ll need:

  • Circular saw
  • Drill
  • Tape measure
  • Level
  • Framing square

These tools will help ensure a fasten precise and accurate build, especially when you need to measure diagonally.

Material Options

When it comes to material options for ground level decks, wood and composite materials are popular choices. Pressure-treated wood is cost-effective and resilient, making it a suitable option for the deck frame and decking boards. However, it’s important to use wood that is treated for ground contact to prevent rot and decay.

Composite decking, made of recycled plastic and wood pulp, is another option for ground level decks alongside wood decking. This material offers low maintenance requirements, enhanced durability, and environmental sustainability. Ultimately, your choice of materials will depend on your specific needs, budget, and design preferences.

Essential Tools

To construct your ground level deck, you’ll need a few essential tools. A circular saw is necessary for cutting the decking boards to size, while a drill is used to drive screws and bolts into the boards, providing a secure and sturdy structure.

Other tools you may need include:

  • Tape measure
  • Level
  • Framing square
  • Hand tamp tool for leveling and preparing the ground

Always remember to follow safety guidelines and wear appropriate protective gear when using power tools to ensure a safe and successful build.

Constructing Your Ground Level Deck

With the site ready, materials assembled, and tools at hand, you can now begin constructing your ground level deck. This process involves creating a solid foundation and leveling the ground, building a sturdy deck frame, and installing the decking boards. By following these steps carefully, you’ll create a beautiful and functional outdoor space that will last for years to come.

Remember, for a stable structure, it’s vital to maintain level deck beams. Pressure-treated shims can be used to ensure the deck beams remain level throughout the construction process. As the beams lay in place, let’s explore the construction process in more detail.

Foundation and Leveling

For a successful ground level deck project, it’s necessary to create a strong foundation and level the deck board above ground. First, assess the terrain and determine the best method for constructing the foundation, which can include using concrete blocks, deck blocks, or poured concrete footings.

Once your foundation block is in place, use a line level and string to establish a level surface. Make any adjustments necessary to ensure a level and secure base for your deck.

Proper ground preparation will provide a strong and stable foundation, reducing the risk of damage or instability over time.

Building the Deck Frame

After laying the foundation, it’s time to build the deck frame. Start by constructing the outer rim joists, using either framing lumber, pressure-treated lumber, or cold-rolled, light-gauge galvanized steel joists. To ensure the deck frame is level and square, follow the steps outlined in Fact 4.2_1.

Next, attach inner joists and the rim joist using joist hangers to provide stability and give an indication of how the decking will be laid. Once your deck frame is completed, you can move on to installing the decking boards.

Installing the Decking Boards

With your deck frame in place, it’s time to install the decking boards. Start by measuring the required length of the boards and cutting them to size using a saw. Then, drill pilot holes into the boards to ensure a secure fit.

Using a drill and deck screws, attach the boards flush to the joists, ensuring they are securely fastened. It’s important to maintain consistent spacing between the decking boards, generally between 1/8” and 1/4” of an inch. Once all the decking boards are installed, trim any excess overhang to achieve a clean, finished look.

Adding Finishing Touches to Your Ground Level Deck

Your ground level deck is now complete, but there’s still room for some finishing touches to make one side of it truly unique and functional. From adding steps and railings to incorporating landscaping and deck accessories, there are endless ways to customize your new outdoor space.

Whether you’re interested in adding a cozy seating area, a fire pit, or beautiful potted plants, these finishing touches can enhance the overall look and feel of your ground level deck, making it a space you’ll be proud to show off and enjoy for years to come.

Adding Steps or Stairs

If your ground level deck requires steps or stairs, there are several design ideas and materials to consider. Some options include:

  • Curved steps
  • Stacked steps
  • Spiral steps
  • Wide steps
  • Integrated steps

These different designs can add visual interest and functionality to your wood decks. When it comes to materials, you can choose from wood, composite decking, or stone to construct your steps.

When determining the placement of steps, consider factors such as:

  • Foot traffic
  • Deck elevation
  • Use and terrain
  • Safety
  • Building codes

By carefully planning and constructing your steps, you’ll create an accessible and visually appealing entry point to your ground level deck.

Railings and Guardrails

Although ground level decks typically don’t require railings or guardrails due to their low height, you may still choose to add them for aesthetic or safety reasons. There are numerous railing options available, including:

  • Composite railings
  • PVC railings
  • Wood railings
  • Aluminum railings

When installing railings and guard rails, it’s important to adhere to safety standards and local building codes to ensure a secure and compliant installation. With the right railings in place, your ground level deck will not only look great but also provide a safe environment for you and your guests.

Deck Accessories and Landscaping

To further enhance your ground level deck, consider incorporating deck accessories and landscaping elements. Outdoor area rugs, furniture, umbrellas, and entertainment systems can create a comfortable and inviting atmosphere. Potted plants, hanging baskets, and landscaping around the perimeter of the deck can also add color and texture to your outdoor space.

You might also consider adding outdoor lighting, water features, or other decorative elements to create a truly unique and personalized ground level deck. By incorporating these finishing touches, your deck will become an extension of your home and a space you’ll love spending time in.

Maintenance and Care for Ground Level Decks

Regular upkeep is fundamental to maintain both the safety and longevity of your ground level deck. By cleaning, sealing, and inspecting your deck, you’ll preserve its appearance and structural integrity, prolonging its lifespan and ensuring it remains a beautiful and functional space for years to come.

Irrespective of your material choice – wood or composite – for your deck, adhering to the correct maintenance guidelines and promptly addressing any issues is vital to prevent expensive future repairs or replacements.

Cleaning and Sealing

Cleaning and sealing your ground level deck is a key step in preserving its appearance and durability. Regular cleaning with appropriate solutions will help remove dirt, grime, and mildew, while sealing the wood with a suitable product will protect it from moisture and environmental damage.

Ideally, you should clean and seal your ground level deck at least once a year, depending on your climate zone and the age of the deck. Taking the time to maintain your deck not only keeps it looking its best but also helps to prevent corrosion and potential issues and prolongs its lifespan.

Inspecting and Repairing

Regular inspections are essential for identifying potential issues and ensuring the safety and structural integrity of your ground level deck. For professionally constructed decks less than five years old, an annual visual inspection is recommended. Minor repairs, such as filling holes and cracks or staining boards, can be done independently, while more extensive repairs or uncertain damage should be addressed by a professional deck repair specialist.

By staying vigilant and addressing issues promptly, you’ll ensure the longevity and safety of your ground level deck.

Frequently Asked Questions

A ground-level deck is a great way to enhance the curb appeal of your home and create an open, airy feel in your backyard. It’s easy to build, and provides you with a level surface to enjoy your outdoor living space for entertaining, barbecuing, and relaxing.

Yes, a deck can be built on ground level. Building a ground level deck is something you can do yourself with good planning and the right materials. Be sure to add gravel or concrete blocks to provide a sturdy foundation, and put stakes in the ground and hang a line level to check for evenness.

A ground level deck is built directly on the ground without deep frost footings attached, whereas a floating deck requires deck boards and deep frost footings for stability.

For ground level decks, pressure-treated wood and hardwood like Ipe are good choices, while composite decking can also be an option.

For best results, it’s recommended to clean and seal your ground level deck once a year or depending on the climate zone and age of the deck.

Contact Us!

Transform your outdoor living experience! Whether it’s for relaxation, entertainment, or enhancing your property’s value, a Ground Level Deck is the game-changer you need. Don’t settle for the ordinary. With Creative Concepts Decks, you’re choosing unparalleled quality, design, and craftsmanship. Are you ready to take the next step? Contact us today, and let’s create your perfect outdoor oasis together!