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Our latest shed is also a pavilion—and you can build it, too!

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Home Decks Deck Designs

Create a comfortable retreat anywhere in your yard with a ground level deck.

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Introduction

Built with composite decking and hidden fasteners, this maintenance-free backyard deck is designed to go together fast and to fit in anywhere in the yard, without footings or ledger boards.

Tools Required

  1. Circular saw
  2. Clamps
  3. Cordless drill
  4. Drill bit set
  5. Framing square
  6. Hammer
  7. Level
  8. Line level
  9. Miter saw
  10. Safety glasses
  11. Spade
  12. Speed square

Buy This PDF & Cut List

Low Deck Ideas: Floating deck

Woodworking Planshow to Woodworking Plans for Simple design goes together fast

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The simplicity of this ground level deck (or floating deck) makes it fast to build. With a helper and all the materials ready to go first thing in the morning, you can have a completed ground level deck before sundown. If you add a step to your ground level deck and use hidden deck fasteners as we did, you might need a few more hours to finish the job. Most decks are attached to houses, but there’s no reason they have to be. Sometimes the best spot to set up a deck chair and relax is at the other end of the yard, tucked into a shady corner of the garden. And if you don’t attach the deck to the house, you don’t need deep frost footings—which can save hours of backbreaking labor, especially in wooded or rocky areas where footings are the 1 last update 2020/06/01 difficult to dig. All you need are simple ground level deck footings. Keep reading and you’ll learn why an island deck is one of our favorite low deck ideas.The simplicity of this ground level deck (or floating deck) makes it fast to build. With a helper and all the materials ready to go first thing in the morning, you can have a completed ground level deck before sundown. If you add a step to your ground level deck and use hidden deck fasteners as we did, you might need a few more hours to finish the job. Most decks are attached to houses, but there’s no reason they have to be. Sometimes the best spot to set up a deck chair and relax is at the other end of the yard, tucked into a shady corner of the garden. And if you don’t attach the deck to the house, you don’t need deep frost footings—which can save hours of backbreaking labor, especially in wooded or rocky areas where footings are difficult to dig. All you need are simple ground level deck footings. Keep reading and you’ll learn why an island deck is one of our favorite low deck ideas.

We designed this deck with simple construction in mind. If you can cut boards and drive screws, you can build it. The only power tools you’ll need are a circular saw and a drill, though a miter saw also helps. We used a premium grade of low-maintenance composite decking with hidden fasteners, which brought the total cost to over $2,000, but using standard treated decking and screws would cut the cost by more than half. You may need to special-order composite decking and hidden fasteners if you use the same types we did, but everything else is stocked at home centers or lumberyards.

A few cautions before figuring out how to build a ground level deck: If all or part of the deck is higher than 30 in. off the ground, you’ll need a building permit and railings. If you intend to build any kind of structure on top of the deck or attach the deck to the house, you also need a permit. If you dig ground level deck footings, call 811 first to check for underground utilities. Also, keep the deck at least 4 ft. back from the property line.

Figure A: Island Deck

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The dimensions of this deck are 11-ft. 8-in. square, not including the stairs.

A complete Materials List and Cutting List is available in pdf format in Additional Information below.

Project step-by-step (9)

Step 1

Place the footings and beams: Layout and leveling

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Lay a quick foundation with minimal digging by setting concrete blocks on gravel. Level from high to low spots with a string level.

Line level

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Step 8

Screw on the skirt board

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Wrap the deck with skirt boards that match the decking, driving trim head screws just below the surface at the spacer locations (see Figure A).

Step 9

Finish the steps

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Screw skirt boards to the sides of the steps for a finished look for your floating deck, then measure, cut and attach a riser board to the face of the steps. We attached the deck boards with hidden fasteners (see Materials List in Additional Information below). Other types of hidden fasteners are available—or you can use deck screws, which create lots of holes but save time and money.

Woodworking Planshow to Woodworking Plans for Start with a full board at one side, aligning it with the edge of the rim joist. Leave the boards long at both ends, then cut them back later all at once so the edges are straight. Use four 1/4-in. spacers between each pair of boards as you fasten them, but check the distance to the rim joist after every four boards and adjust spacing if necessary.

At the next to the last board, remove the rim joist and mark and cut the ends off the joists so the last deck board lines up with the edge of the rim joist. Reinstall the rim joist and attach the last boards.

Nail 1/4-in. spacers ripped from treated wood to the rim joist every 16 in. so water won’t get trapped against the rim joist. Screw on skirt boards with two screws at each spacer (Photo 8). Attach the decking to the steps after the skirt boards are fastened.

Finally, finish the steps (Photo 9).

Project PDF Files

Click the links below to download the construction drawings, materials list and cutting list for this project.

Island Deck construction drawings

Woodworking Planshow to Woodworking Plans for Island Deck materials list

Island Deck cutting list

Additional Information

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