Why Ground-Level Decks Are a Trending New Deck Design

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Deck Trend Alert: Find Out Why Ground-Level Decks Are So Popular

Building a ground-level deck is a great way to utilize your backyard space in a unique way. Ground-level decks are a popular deck design because of their flexibility and ease of construction. They are free-standing structures that can be built almost anywhere, making the deck design possibilities, almost endless.

In this blog, the design experts at Deck Guardian, a premier deck company in New Jersey, will dive into the ins and outs of building a ground-level deck, the pros and cons of this type of structure, and share some ground-level deck ideas that may just inspire you to build your own.

How to Build a Ground-Level Deck in 7 Steps

Building a ground-level deck, often called a floating deck due to its freestanding nature, offers a fantastic way to enhance your outdoor space. Here’s a simple guide on how to construct this deck, featuring a minimalistic design with composite decking and hidden fasteners for a sleek, maintenance-free finish.

Step 1: Place the Footings and Beams — Layout and Leveling

Begin by setting up a foundation with minimal excavation. Place concrete blocks directly on gravel to act as your deck’s footings. Use a string stretched between stakes to find the high and low points of your area. Adjust a line level on the string to ensure even leveling across your site. This foundational step is crucial as it ensures that your deck starts off on a level surface.

Step 2: Square the Beams

Position two parallel beams according to your deck’s dimensions (for example, 9-ft apart). Connect them temporarily with 1×4 stretchers at the ends, ensuring equal overhangs. Measure diagonally between opposite corners to square up the beams. This adjustment guarantees your deck’s stability and aesthetic symmetry.

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Step 3: Lay Out the Beams

Once squared, outline where the gravel pads will sit beneath the beams by marking the ground with a spade. Remove the beams briefly to remove sod and set the gravel, ensuring a solid base for your footings. Adjust the gravel level, place the blocks, and ensure they are level both individually and relative to each other. For higher gradients, consider using a 4×4 post on a frost footing for better stability and aesthetics.

Step 4: Attach Angles and Set Joists

Position the beams back on the footings and ensure they are square. Using metal angles instead of traditional toenailing helps avoid wood splitting and facilitates easier assembly. Attach these angles at each planned joist location on the beams. Lay down your joists, starting with the outer and center joists, ensuring they are spaced correctly (12 inches for composite decking or 16 inches for wood is typical).

Step 5: Cantilever the Joists and Add Rim Joists

Extend the outer joists slightly over the edge of the beams to allow for aesthetic overhangs. Attach rim joists to these extended joists using clamps to keep them in place. This step solidifies the framework of your deck, preparing it for the decking boards.

Step 6: Install Decking and Corner Blocking

Begin installing your chosen decking material, working outward from one edge of the deck. Add corner blocks between the last two joists at each corner for added strength, fastening them securely to both the joists and rim joists. Ensure all boards are securely attached, keeping consistent spacing for expansion and drainage.

Step 7: Frame and Add Steps

If your deck design includes steps, frame these using stringers attached directly to the deck joists. Ensure that the step height does not exceed 8 inches above the ground level. This can be adjusted by altering the ground level or adding a step if necessary. Attach the stringers using metal angles or reinforced wood blocks for durability.

With these steps, your ground-level deck should be ready for enjoyment. Remember to check local building codes and regulations before starting your project to ensure compliance, especially concerning deck height and attachment requirements. This project not only adds value to your home but also enhances your living space, providing a perfect spot for relaxation and entertainment.

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Pros and Cons of a Ground-Level Deck

When considering adding a ground-level deck to your property, it’s important to weigh the advantages and disadvantages. This section will explore the benefits and potential drawbacks to help you make an informed decision about whether a ground-level deck is right for your outdoor space.

Pros of a Ground-Level Deck

  1. Cost-Effective: Ground-level decks are generally less expensive than elevated decks. The reduced need for extensive structural supports, railings, and staircases can significantly lower the overall cost.
  2. Ease of Construction: These decks are simpler to build compared to their elevated counterparts. The straightforward construction process makes it an ideal DIY project, potentially saving on labor costs and reducing complexity.
  3. Accessibility: Being close to the ground, these decks are easily accessible for all ages and mobility levels, eliminating the need for stairs and making it a safer option for families with young children or elderly members.
  4. Minimal Permits Required: In many areas, ground-level decks may not require a building permit if they are below a certain height (often 30 inches). This can simplify the building process and reduce waiting times and fees associated with permits.
  5. Versatility in Placement: Ground-level decks can be placed on nearly any flat surface in your yard. This flexibility allows homeowners to maximize their space and enhance less utilized areas.

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Cons of a Ground-Level Deck

  1. Limited Durability: Being close to the ground, these decks are more susceptible to moisture and pest damage, especially if not properly maintained. The proximity to the earth can lead to quicker deterioration of materials compared to elevated decks.
  2. Drainage Issues: Proper drainage is crucial for a ground-level deck. Without adequate elevation for natural water flow, standing water can accumulate under the deck, promoting wood rot and fungal growth.
  3. Limited Views: One of the charms of an elevated deck is the expansive views it can offer. A ground-level deck, being close to the ground, doesn’t provide elevated views, which might be a drawback for some homeowners.
  4. Vegetation and Debris: Leaves, dirt, and other debris can easily accumulate on a ground-level deck due to its proximity to the ground. Regular cleaning is necessary to keep the deck in good condition.
  5. Permit and Building Code Complications: While often not required, sometimes local building codes can have specific restrictions and requirements even for ground-level decks. It’s essential to check local regulations to ensure compliance and avoid potential legal issues.

Considering these pros and cons will help you determine if a ground-level deck fits your needs and lifestyle. While they offer great benefits in terms of cost, simplicity, and accessibility, it’s important to consider factors like maintenance and placement to ensure your deck lasts for years to come.

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Inspiration for Your Ground-Level Deck

Now that you understand the practical aspects of building a ground-level deck, let’s explore some creative ideas to inspire your deck design. Whether you’re looking for a cozy spot to relax or a dynamic area for entertaining, these concepts can help you envision the perfect ground-level deck for your home.

Nature-Inspired Oasis

Create a tranquil retreat by incorporating natural elements around your ground-level deck. Plant your favorite perennials, install water features, and add natural stone pathways to blend the deck seamlessly with your garden. Add comfortable seating surrounded by potted plants and soft outdoor lighting to add to the ambiance.

Outdoor Living Room

Transform your deck into an outdoor living space with all the comforts of the indoors. Equip it with outdoor sofas, throw pillows, and a fire pit for added warmth and light. A weather-resistant rug and some overhead string lights can make the space feel cozy and inviting, perfect for evening gatherings.

Functional Dining Area

For those who love to host dinners and parties, turn your ground-level deck into a functional dining area. A sturdy outdoor dining table, chairs, and a grill can set the stage for memorable outdoor meals. Consider a pergola or canopy for shade during the day and ambiance lighting for dining under the stars.

Zen Space for Yoga and Meditation

If you prefer a more peaceful use for your deck, design a zen space dedicated to yoga and meditation. Incorporate smooth wooden surfaces, minimalist decor, and calming colors. Add elements like a small water fountain or wind chimes to enhance the serenity of the space.

Interactive Children’s Play Area

Make your deck a delightful place for children by turning it into an interactive play area. Safe, built-in sandbox areas, low tables for arts and crafts, and weather-resistant storage for toys can make your ground-level deck a favorite spot for kids. Ensure all materials and finishes are child-friendly and durable.

Elegant Minimalist Design

Embrace a minimalist design with clean lines and a monochromatic color palette. Choose sleek, modern furniture and sparse accessories to maintain a simple yet elegant look. This style emphasizes open space and uncluttered areas, making your deck feel larger and more open.

Rustic Country Charm

For a more traditional look, incorporate rustic elements such as reclaimed wood, vintage furniture, and classic patterns. Adding a handcrafted wooden bench or a swing can invoke a nostalgic feel, making your deck a cozy corner for relaxation.

By drawing inspiration from these ideas, you can create a ground-level deck that not only enhances your outdoor living experience but also reflects your personal style and meets your specific needs. Whether you aim for sophistication or fun, your deck can become a beloved extension of your home.

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Let Deck Guardian Transform Your Outdoor Space with a Ground-Level Deck

As we wrap up our journey through the design and benefits of ground-level decks, we hope you’re inspired to transform your outdoor space into something truly special. Ground-level decks are more than just a fleeting trend, they bring beauty and functionality to your home that will never go out of style.

Whether you envision a peaceful backyard retreat, a lively entertainment area, or a simple and elegant space to relax, Deck Guardian has the expertise to bring your vision to life. With our commitment to quality craftsmanship and customer satisfaction, we are here to guide you every step of the way, from design to completion.

Don’t wait to create the perfect outdoor setting for your home. Contact Deck Guardian today, and let us help you build a deck that you and your family will enjoy for years to come. It’s time to turn your dream deck into a reality!

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