Build a Ground-Level Deck

R. L. Rhodes
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A free-standing, ground level deck is a clever way to extend your living space, or to create a detached entertaining space on another part of your property.

The instructions included here are for a deck that is approximately 8 feet wide and 10 feet long. Be sure to draw out your plans beforehand and adjust the measurements and materials to accommodate the dimensions of the deck you want to build.

Skill level

  • Expert

Time required

  • 16-24 hours (+48 hours for setting concrete)

Materials

  • batterboards
  • mason’s string
  • six 1 in. lengths of tube forms, 8 in. in diameter
  • six 60 lb. bags of ready-mix concrete
  • six post anchors for 4×4 posts
  • 2×6 boards, cut to the following lengths:
    • two at 10’
    • two at 9’8″
    • two at 7’8″
    • eight at 7’4″
    • sixteen at >10′
  • four angle brackets
  • sixteen joist hangers
  • 3″ deck nails
  • deck screws

Tools

Directions

Step One

In order to anchor the deck, you’ll want to establish concrete footings. Use the batterboards and mason’s string lines to lay out footing locations. Using a posthole digger, make six holes, three along each side at intervals of 3 feet. Each should be 8-inches in diameter and 12 inches deep. There is no frost line to deal with since this is a freestanding deck. To give height to the footings, fix the tube forms over each hole to level the footings about 1 inch above ground level.

Step Two

Following the instructions on the packaging, mix the concrete in a wheelbarrow. Pour the concrete into the holes, leveling it at the top of the tube forms. Allow it to cure for 48 hours.

Step Three

To each concrete footing attach a post anchor. Use a long batterboard to ensure that they align correctly. The lateral beams can be made by joining the 9’8″ boards to the 10′ boards, centering the smaller board so that two inches remain at either end. Settle the beams into the post anchors and secure them with nails.

Step Four

Check the alignment of the beams and make adjustments as necessary to ensure that they’re square.

Step Five

Fasten the 7’8″ boards as joists to the ends of the lateral beams. Use the angle brackets to provide additional support for the corner joints.

Step Six

Using the joist hangers and deck nails, hang the 7’4″ boards at equal intervals along the interior of the lateral boards.

Step Seven

Align the inside edge of the first length of decking with a chalk line. Drive two fasteners through the board into the center of each joist. Position each fastener ¾ to 1 inch from the edge of the board.

Step Eight

Using chalk, mark a straight cutting line. With a circular saw, trim the boards of the deck to ensure a straight edge.

For help with installing your free-standing deck, contact the helpful experts at the Home Depot Installation Services department.

 

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