How to Build a Ground-Level Deck

Weekend

Add an area for outdoor entertaining and relaxing by building a ground-level deck

You can add a ground-level deck to your outdoor space and expand the options for dining al fresco, entertaining and relaxing. This guide will show you how the decking was assembled, and the approximate time it took for each step.  

Tip: Before you begin, you must first calculate the amount of lumber, concrete and hardware you will need. This project guide will provide thorough details on this process.

Safety:

• Wear hearing and eye protection when using power tools.
• Wear eye protection when using striking tools.
• Wear a dust mask when cutting lumber and mixing concrete.
• Wear gloves and work boots when handling lumber and concrete. (Do not wear gloves when operating power saws.)
• Use GFCI-protected power cords when operating power tools outdoors.
• Use manufacturer-approved hardware and fasteners for all wood products. Check with the manufacturer or your local supplier for more information.

WHAT YOU NEED FOR THIS PROJECT

1
Dig holes for posts
Dig holes for posts - Build Ground-Level Deck

• Use batterboards and mason's string lines to lay out footing locations for a deck that is approximately 8 feet wide and 10 feet long. Use a posthole digger to dig six holes for 8-inch-diameter footings. Each hole is 12 inches deep.
• There is no frost line since this is a freestanding deck. Use tube forms to level the footings about 1 inch above ground level.
• Approximate time for a novice (with a helper) to lay out footing locations, dig holes and level tube forms for this deck: 5-7 hours.

2
Pour concrete and place post anchors
Pour concrete post anchors  - Build Ground-Level Deck

Tip: Leave enough of the bolt above the footer to connect to the anchor.

• Mix six 60-pound bags of ready-mix concrete in a wheelbarrow. Place post anchor bolts into the center of each footer before cement begins to harden.
• Align anchors with a long straight board. Check diagonal measurements to square the anchor positions.
• Approximate time (not including curing time): 3-4 hours

3
Attach beams to post anchors
Attach beams post anchors - Build Ground-Level Deck

• Use double 2 x 6s as beams. Attach them in the post anchors. Install a 1/2-inch-thick pressure-treated shim between the beams and one side of the anchor at each footing. The anchor is 3 1/2 inches wide and the beam is 3 inches thick.
• Approximate time: 2-3 hours

4
Check beam alignment
Check beam alignment - Build Ground-Level Deck

• Check beam alignment and adjust as necessary to make certain beams are square.
• Approximate time: 30-45 minutes

5
Attach rim joists and angle brackets
Attach joists angle brackets - Build Ground-Level Deck

• Attach 2 x 6 rim joists to the ends of the beams. Install angle brackets to provide additional support for the corner joints.
• Approximate time: 1-1 1/2 hours

6
Attach inner joists to beam faces
Attach inner joists faces - Build Ground-Level Deck

• Attach inner 2 x 6 joists to the beam faces with joist hangers.
• Approximate time: 3-5 hours

7
Add fasteners to joists
Add fasteners joists - Build Ground-Level Deck

• Align the inside edge of the first length of decking with the 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.
• Approximate time: 3-5 hours

8
Trim deck in straight line
Trim deck straight line - Build Ground-Level Deck

• Snap a chalk line to mark a straight cutting line. Trim decking to length with a circular saw.
• Approximate time: 15-30 minutes