Decking has been a popular addition to yards and gardens for some time now. And a standard decked area – or raised deck – is often built on a frame next to the house, with safety railings around the edge. It can be quite technical to build by yourself.
But you can also build what’s known as a floating deck. This type of decking is often easier to build, doesn’t need to be attached to your house and doesn’t require traditional footings to secure it. This makes it easier to construct, especially if you don’t want to hire a professional. So, it could save you money compared to standard decking prices. Although, you will still need some tools, a few skills and plenty of spare time.
Here’s how to build your floating deck:
6 Steps to Build A Floating Deck
Step 1: Get your tools together
First, you’ll need to make sure you’ve got the tools you need to complete this project successfully. You’ll need a tape measure, level, square, circular saw, and drill. And you’ll need bits for drilling and driving.
You may also need a shovel and something to tamper the ground with. Although, you could use your feet or a heavy block if you don’t want to buy or hire a tamper tool or machine.
Step 2: Choose the right materials
Next, you’ll need to choose your materials. Pressure treated lumber is good, but wood treated for ground contact is even better. This will help your decking survive the damp conditions. You can either use 2×6 or 2×8 for the frame, and the length will depend on the size of your decked area. You’ll also need some decking boards for the top. These are usually made from wood, although you can buy a composite decking board too.
You’ll need some deck screws, which should be resistant to corrosion. And you may choose to use metal ties to strength the corners of your base. If you’re unsure of what fixings you need, your local hardware store should be able to advise you.
Finally, you’ll need some concrete blocks to stand your frame on. You can buy inexpensive, ready-made deck blocks for this.
To keep the weeds from growing up underneath your decking, you may like to buy some landscape fabric and gravel.
Step 3: Level the ground
The first big job you’ll need to do, is level the ground where you’re going to construct your floating deck. Then you’ll need to tamper the ground. Which basically means to compact and flatten the ground as much as possible. This is so you have a good base for your floating deck.
If you’re planning to keep it low maintenance, then roll out your layer of landscaping fabric and top with the gravel.
Step 4: Make your base
Next, you’ll need to make the base for your decking. You’ll require a flat surface to work on, if possible. You’ll need to cut your lumber to size using your circular saw. Measure twice just to be sure, before you start cutting. And mark where you need to cut clearly and accurately.
If you’re making the deck yourself, you’re most likely going to choose a square or rectangular frame for ease. But to make your base strong enough, you’ll need to cut some extra lengths for the joists. These will go across your square base. You may reinforce this further by fixing battens in-between your joists. Don’t forget to drill pilot holes for your screws first (you can use Kreg K4 or K5 drill guide). Screwing the wood together on a flat surface will help you create a straight frame.
Now you should have a strong base structure. This will need to stand on your concrete blocks. Before you move your frame onto the blocks, it’s worth using your level to make sure they are all sat at the same height on the ground. If you don’t get them level, your base structure isn’t going to sit properly on top and it will be unstable.
Step 5: Construct your decking
Once you’ve got your base in place, it’s time to add your decking boards. Again, you’ll need to cut these to size, so they neatly fit on top of your frame. Then you can start by lining the first board up with the edge of the frame. Remember, you want to lay your boards going across your joists. And you’ll need to leave a small gap between each decking board. You could create your own spacer for this task. This will ensure your spaces are even along your deck. A thin piece of board should do the trick.
Step 6: Finishing your deck
Although you’ve made your base from treated wood, your decking boards will no doubt need oiling or staining to keep them in good condition. However, if you’ve used composite decking boards, you won’t need to worry about this step.
Now you’re ready to use your deck, whether you’re planning to use it as an outdoor dining or lounging space.
Don’t forget, it will need a bit of maintenance to help it last for years to come. Decking does need cleaning and reoiling from time to time.
And a few final tips
For working out your lengths of lumber, it may help you to sketch out a plan on a piece of paper first. And if you’re struggling to work out the size of decked area to build, you could use a chalk spray in your yard or garden to mark out a rough shape that you think will work.
There are quite a few video guides online that can help with your build too. But you should note that professionals and amateurs may use slightly different techniques to create their floating decks.
Building a floating deck can be done as a DIY project, without the need for professional help. However, it’s worth bearing in mind that you do need to be reasonably competent at using tools and working with wood. It’s also quite a bulky project to take on, so it’s easier if you’ve got a few pairs of hands to help you.