Have you ever walked out into your backyard and thought, "Man, it would be great to have a deck to relax on right now."? Well, you can have a deck to relax on. Now you might be thinking, "Yeah, but I would need a permit, and then have to hire a company to come do it and that’s expensive.". Well, if you wanted to build a standard deck, then yes you are correct. However, you can skip the permit process and build a deck yourself for relatively cheap.
You may be wondering how you could build your own floating deck. Well, it's relatively easy. Floating decks are decks that rather than being attached to a building as standard decks are; they simply "float" on top of the ground. Since they’re not attached to a building and are freestanding, you typically don’t need a permit for it. This is an easy do-it-yourself project. With a few tools, wood, and some time, you’ll have that deck you’ve been daydreaming about.
The Tools You Will Need
- Measuring tape
- Drill bit
- Compound miter saw
- Reciprocating saw
- Circular saw
- Auger (can be rented)
- Post level
- Laser level
- Chalk reel
- Safety goggles
- Ear protection
- Hand tamp
The Supplies You Will Need
- (8 to 16) 60 lbs. bags of concrete
- 1 box of #10 2½ in. wood deck screws with bit
- (20) 2 x 6 joist hangers
- Wood Stain
- Wood Sealant
- Foam paint roller
- Paint tray and liner
- Rubber gloves
- Work gloves
- Wiping cloths
- (8) 4 x 4 x 8 pieces of pressure-treated lumber (for footer posts)
- (25) 2 x 6 x 10 pieces of pressure-treated lumber (for the interior frame)
- (4) 2 x 10 x 16 pieces of pressure-treated lumber (for the exterior frame)
- (23) 2 x 6 x 16 pieces of decking boards (for the deck top)
Building Your Own Floating Deck
Step 1: Determine how large you want your floating deck to be. Measure out the space in your yard or sketch out the design of your deck, making notations regarding its length, depth, width, and interior framework.
Step 2: Measure out the size of your deck in your yard. Use stakes and string to mark off the dimensions of your future deck.
Step 3: Clear the area where the deck will be installed, removing grass and other plants, as needed. Rake the ground so it is flat and level and tamp it well with your feet or with a hand tamp tool. If desired, lay down landscape fabric over the soil and add a layer of gravel to prevent weed growth under the deck.
Step 4: To figure out the height of your posts, add 2 ft. to the height you want your deck to be off the ground. Mark that height on your posts.
Step 5: Grab and put on your safety goggles and ear protection. Use a compound miter saw to cut your posts down to the desired size.
Step 6: Use post hole diggers or a rented auger to dig your post holes. Dig each hole 8 in. wide by 18-in. deep. Space each hole 6 to 8-ft. apart, depending on the size of your deck.
Step 7: Mix 1 to 2 bags of concrete per post hole. Mix the bags of concrete in a wheelbarrow until it’s chunky and wet.
Step 8: Set the posts. Work on setting one 4 x 4 post at a time. Place the 4 x 4 post in the hole, making sure it’s level and plumb. Shovel the concrete mixture around the post and repeat this process until all of your posts are set in concrete. Let everything set up for at least 24 hours.
Step 9: While your concrete is drying, use a measuring tape and pencil to measure and mark your 2 x 6 pieces of pressure treated lumber. You want each board to be roughly 2 in. less than your desired floating deck’s width.
Step 10: Grab and put on your safety goggles and ear protection. Use a compound miter saw to cut each 2 x 10 piece of pressure treated lumber down to the desired length you figured out in the previous step.
Step 11: After your concrete has had at least 24 hours to dry, use a drill and decking screws to screw a 2 x 10 to either side of a 4 x 4 footer post. Continue attaching your 2 x 10’s until all of your 4 x 4 posts have a floor joist attached to them. Make sure they’re level.
Step 12: Use your floating deck’s length and width as a guide to determine if you need to make any cuts to your 2 x 10 pieces of pressure treated lumber. For a cleaner look, cut boards that you are joining at a complementary 45-degree angle.
Step 13: Grab and put on your safety goggles and ear protection. Use a compound miter saw to cut your 2 x 10 boards down to size.
Step 14: Use a drill and decking screws to screw the perimeter 2 x 10 pieces of pressure treated lumber to the main 2 x 10 joists. Continue attaching your 2 x 10’s until your frame is finished.
Step 15: Grab and put on your safety goggles and ear protection. Use a reciprocating saw to cut the footer posts flush with the floating decks frame so the decking boards can lie across it.
Step 16: Use a measuring tape and pencil to measure and mark your desired dimensions on your 2 x 6 pieces of pressure treated lumber. Each 2 x 6 should fit just inside the frame.
Step 17: Grab and put on your safety goggles and ear protection. Use a compound miter saw to cut your 2 x 6’s down to your desired lengths.
Step 18: Use a drill and decking screws to attach joist hangers to the interior of your floating deck’s frame. Attach each joist hanger at 16-in. on center for strong support underfoot.
Step 19: After all of your joists are attached, lay your pre-cut 2 x 6 interior boards into the joists. Attach the boards with a deck screw through the joist bracket.
Step 20: Use a measuring tape and pencil to measure and mark your desired dimensions on your 2 x 6 decking boards.
Step 21: Grab and put on your safety goggles and ear protection. Use a compound miter saw to cut your 2 x 6’s down to your desired lengths.
Step 22: After all of your wood has been cut down to size, line a paint tray with a paint tray liner, pour some exterior stain into the lined tray, grab your foam paint roller and start staining. Use a rag to wipe off any excess stain as you go. Don’t forget to stain the ends of the boards. Repeat the staining process until the boards are stained to your desired darkness. Set each board aside to dry according to the time listed on your stain can/bucket.
Step 23: After the stain has completely dried, clean off the top of the deck and make sure it is free of any debris. The deck has to be clean and dry for the next step because anything left on the deck or any moisture in the wood boards will be trapped.
Step 24: Grab another paint tray and line it with a paint tray liner. Pour the deck sealer of your choice into the lined tray, grab a foam paint roller and seal the deck. Be sure to only coat the deck in one layer of sealant and don’t allow the sealant to collect anywhere.
Step 26: Use a drill and decking screws to attach the decking boards to the deck frame. Start with a full-length board at the most visible spot. Work perpendicular to the deck’s main joists and interior supports and don’t forget to stagger the seams.
Step 27: After all of your decking boards have been attached, use a chalk reel to mark the end of your deck. Pop it so it leaves a cut line on your decking boards. Repeat this process for the other end of your deck.
Note: To pop the chalk line, you will need to follow these instructions;
Attach the end of the chalk reel at the starting point of your line. Then, pull the string that is loaded with chalk out of the chalk reel to where you want your line to end. Hold or secure the chalk line at the end point of the line. Use your finger to hold the line down in the middle of the line. Gently lift the line on either side of your finger just enough so when you let it go it will pop or hit the ground hard enough to leave a line of chalk.
Step 28: Grab and put on your safety goggles and ear protection. Use a circular saw to cut along the chalk line for a nice clean cut across all the ends of the boards.