Ground-Level Deck: Pros, Cons, and Key Considerations

A ground-level deck can offer you and your family a beautiful and functional outdoor living space. Constructed with timber or composite materials, ground-level decks have gained popularity due to their ease of construction, affordability, and seamless integration with the landscape. However, as with any home renovation project, building a low-level or ground-level deck has advantages and disadvantages. This article will explore the advantages, disadvantages, and important factors to consider before finalising your ground-level deck plans.

Pros of Building a Ground-Level Deck

Decking on the ground level offers numerous advantages over elevated decks, including:

Easier and More Affordable Construction

Building a low-level deck requires fewer materials and labour, making it more cost-effective. Building a ground-level deck means the frame requires less structural support and can be built with simpler designs and fewer complex features.

Seamless Transition Between Indoor and Outdoor Spaces

A timber or composite ground-level deck provides a smooth transition between indoor and outdoor living spaces, creating a natural extension of your home. This makes them ideal for outdoor entertaining, relaxing, and easy access to your yard or garden.

Natural Aesthetic

An on-the-ground deck blends in more naturally with the surrounding landscape, making them an excellent choice for homes with a natural, rustic, or contemporary aesthetic. They can be built with natural timber or composite decking that complements the environment and enhances the beauty of your outdoor space.

Design Flexibility and Functional Space

Ground-level decks offer more design flexibility than elevated decks, as they can be built to accommodate any shape or size of the yard. Depending on your needs and desires, your deck or patio can serve many different functions, from seating and dining spaces to an outdoor kitchen.

Accessibility and Safety

Ground-level decks are a great option for homeowners with mobility issues or those who don’t want to deal with stairs. Plus, they’re safer for kids and pets since there’s no danger of falling from up high compared to elevated decks.

Cons of Building a Ground-Level Deck

Despite the advantages, there are some disadvantages to building a ground-level deck:

Increased Susceptibility to Moisture

Ground-level decks are closer to the ground, which makes them more susceptible to moisture buildup. This can lead to rotting, warping, and mould growth, especially if the deck needs to be correctly supported by quality ground-level deck footings or a ground level deck frame.

Limited View

Single-level or ground level deck designs may offer different expansive views than elevated decks. This can be a disadvantage if you have a beautiful view you want to showcase or live in an area with stunning natural scenery.

Vulnerability to Pests

Ground-level decks are more vulnerable to pests such as termites, ants, and rodents, as these pests can easily access the low-level deck construction. This can cause damage to the ground-level decking construction over time, as well as create an unpleasant outdoor living environment.

Increased Maintenance Requirements

Because a low-level deck construction is more susceptible to moisture and pests, decking on the ground may require more maintenance than elevated decks. This can include regular cleaning, sealing, and repairs to prevent rotting or insect damage.

Limited Space Underneath

Unlike elevated decks, ground-level decks do not provide space underneath for storage or outdoor living. This can be a disadvantage if you have limited yard space or want to use the area underneath the deck for additional outdoor living or storage space.

Factors to Consider When Building a Ground-Level Deck

Before Building a ground-level deck, several important factors must be considered to ensure a successful and safe construction. Here are some of the key factors to keep in mind for your ground-level deck:

Building Codes and Permits

Before starting any construction project, checking your local building codes and obtaining the necessary permits is important. Building codes vary by location, and compliance with them can result in fines or legal issues. Ensure you are approved to build a low-ground deck before starting this project.

Drainage and Water Management

As mentioned earlier, ground-level decks are more susceptible to moisture buildup. Proper drainage and water management are crucial to prevent these problems. When creating your ground-level deck plans, consider factors such as the slope of your yard, soil type, and potential water sources such as rain or irrigation. You can even lookup simple ground-level deck designs that are friendly towards water management.

Foundation and Structural Support

While ground-level decks require less structural support than elevated decks, ensuring a stable and safe foundation is still important. Consider factors such as the deck’s weight, the soil’s load-bearing capacity, and the type of low-level deck footings or joists and beams to be used.

Materials and Design

The materials and design of your deck can affect its durability, safety, and appearance. Choose high-quality materials such as pressure-treated natural hardwood or an eco-friendly composite decking, and consider maintenance requirements, slip resistance, and overall aesthetic factors.

Accessibility and Safety

Consider factors such as accessibility for children and elderly individuals and safety features such as railings and lighting. These can help prevent accidents and ensure a comfortable and secure outdoor living space. You must check out building a deck on the ground plans that are kid, pet, and elderly-proof.

Budget and Timeline

Building a ground-level deck can be a cost-effective option, but planning for a realistic budget and timeline is still important. Consider factors such as the cost of materials, labour, permits, and any additional features or accessories you may want to include.

Building a Ground-Level Deck: Step-by-Step Guide

Building a ground-level deck may seem straightforward but it requires careful planning and execution. Here are the steps involved when creating such a structure:

  1. Plan and design the deck: Determine the size and shape of the deck, as well as the materials you will need. Consider factors such as the slope of the land, drainage, and access points.
  2. Prepare the ground: Clear where to build your wood deck and level the ground. Remove any debris, rocks, or vegetation.
  3. Lay the foundation: Use concrete deck blocks or pier blocks to create a stable foundation for the deck. Place the blocks in a grid pattern, each about 4 feet apart. Use a level to ensure each block is aligned with the others.
  4. Install support beams: Use pressure-treated lumber to create support beams that rest on the foundation blocks. Use joist hangers to attach the beams to the blocks.
  5. Add joists: Attach the joists to the support beams, spacing them about 16 inches apart. Use screws or nails to secure the joists in place.
  6. Install decking: Choose your desired decking material and install it on the joists. Use screws or nails to secure the decking in place.
  7. Add railing (optional): If desired, install railing around the sides of the deck to provide safety and support.
  8. Finish the deck: Stain or paint it to protect it from the elements and enhance its appearance.

Tips for Maintaining Your Ground-Level Deck

To keep your ground-level deck in top shape and extend its lifespan, follow these simple maintenance tips:

Regular Cleaning

Sweep your deck regularly to remove dirt, leaves, and debris. Use a garden hose or a pressure washer on a low setting to wash away dirt and grime. Use a deck cleaner designed for tougher stains or algae for your decking material.

Inspection and Repair

Inspect your deck periodically for signs of damage, such as loose boards, cracked or warped planks, or rusted hardware. Address any issues promptly to prevent further damage and ensure the safety and longevity of your deck.

Sealing and Staining

If you have a wooden deck, apply a water-repellent sealant or stain every few years to protect the wood from moisture and sunlight. This will help prevent rot, warping, and discolouration. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for your chosen product.

Pest Control

Watch for signs of pest infestations, such as termite tunnels, ant hills, or rodent droppings. Treat any infestations promptly with appropriate pest control measures, and consider consulting a professional if the problem persists.

The Final Word on Ground-Level Decks

Ground-level decks can be a practical and attractive addition to any outdoor living space, providing various benefits. Even though there may be disadvantages associated with building a ground-level deck, these can be mitigated with careful planning, design, and maintenance.

One of the best options for ground-level deck construction is composite decking. Composite decking is a low-maintenance, durable, and environmentally-friendly material resistant to moisture, rot, and insects. It is also slip-resistant, making it a safer option for outdoor living spaces. With a wide range of colours and styles, composite decking can provide a beautiful and functional outdoor living space that will stand the test of time.