One of the toughest parts of installing a new deck is digging holes in the ground for the support posts. Depending on the soil and the equipment available to you, it can be back-breaking labor. Is there a way to skip this step and still provide a solid foundation for your new deck? Keep reading to find out what these professionals have to say on the topic.
There are two great options
‘Floating’ or ‘free standing’ decks are typically suited for builds that are under six feet in size. Any larger and it’s prudent to go with the old-fashioned approach of using concrete forms. Ultimately, you should check with your town’s permitting office and local ordinances, which will dictate building requirements.
If you’re ready to start planning, there are two great options to build a deck without digging any holes: surface deck blocks and deck foot anchors.
The cheapest foundations are deck blocks, which can be purchased for less than $12.00 a piece. Deck blocks sit on the ground, so proper planning is essential. Ensure that the ground is highly compacted and does not have any sitting water or potential for erosion. You’ll also need to have enough of them to ensure the weight of the deck is distributed properly. Deck blocks are good because they’re cheap, but a drawback is that the deck will sit at a fixed height, making multi-level decking or stairs impossible with this design.
Another option is to use a deck foot anchor. Unlike the deck blocks, these anchors will allow building a variable height deck in a traditional manner. Simply screw the auger portion into the ground using a wrench or accommodating drill, and then attach your 6×6 post. Continue building your deck as normal.
Find a place with good condition
Yes, you can build a deck without digging holes. It’s usually a bad idea, though.
If the conditions where you’re building are just right, you can safely build a long-lasting deck on precast concrete piers sitting on top of the ground, but it’s rare to find a place with all the right conditions.
If your region experiences below-freezing temperatures, you need footings that are deeper than the frost levels. A no-hole deck base could result in a structurally unsound deck because of frost heaves.
If your soil isn’t ideal, above-ground footings will sink and shift, and the work you put into building a deck will be wasted.
Likely, the city or subdivision you live in will have written codes concerning fence construction, and usually, they’ll require traditional footings that require you to dig holes.
A floating deck
Yes. It’s possible to build a deck without digging holes. This type of deck is called a floating deck, and it sits right on top of the ground without any posts or support areas that you’d dig down into the ground [to secure]. While you don’t have to dig, you will have to level the ground by scraping off layers of soil until you get a completely level area where you want to layout your grid for your deck.
What you’ll end up with when you install a floating deck is a very low wooden platform that sits directly on the ground. You can add steps or walkways to, from, and around the deck to give it character. It’s also possible to create one or two platforms right next to each other to create a seating area.
Depends on where you live
Of course, you can. It’s 2021! If we can build homes out of a 3D printer, I don’t see why we can’t build a deck without digging. However, I believe there are things that have a long history of working, which includes building decks [by digging] holes. Look at those skyscrapers in your city. They were built [with the help of] geological experts who can tell you how to support a building.
Honestly, it just depends on where you live and the type of weather conditions that the deck will endure over time. If you live somewhere it rains a lot, do it properly and build a secure base that can go deeper into the ground. If you live in a dry climate, you may get away without digging because you do not have to worry about landslides or heavy rain. Trust your instinct and your local experts. Invest in your safety.
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