How to Build a Deck Without Digging Holes – 11 Step Guide

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Most of the decks are built by digging holes to set deck posts. This method can be pretty expensive and time-consuming as well.

Luckily, there are other ways. You can use deck blocks, a classic way to create an instant foundation.

Using deck blocks is the ideal method for DIY projects for deck building, as well as making it convenient for professionals. New types of deck blocks are light in weight compared to their concrete alternative. It can still support up to 1,700 pounds and stress-tested for more than 11,000 pounds. They also have the benefit of avoiding frost heaving.

Read on for how to build a deck foundation without digging holes so that you can save some money as well as have a beautiful deck.

9 Steps to Build a Deck Without Digging Holes

Decks add beauty to your house and a great space to enjoy your patio furniture. However, building decks is a major home improvement task.

Generally, you need to dig a hole, pour concrete, and set deck posts so that you get a stable and robust design. That’s a massive amount of work.

As an alternative, you can build low decks with a floating wooden design without digging any holes or setting deck posts.

Here is a guide to building a deck without digging holes.

How to Build a Deck Without Digging Holes – 9 Step by Step Guide

The deck blocks will form the foundation of a floating wooden deck. They are placed over the ground.

Deck blocks are not tall in height and are meant to create decks that are closer to the ground. That means the deck you will be creating will not be more than 6 feet in height from the ground. This makes it a manageable project size for DIY home improvement.

A four-by-four deck block creates a stronger foundation.

Step 1: Collect the permit and tools

First, check with your local building department to see if you need to get a permit to build a deck. They will provide the size limits and site locations in your yard.

Before starting the process, you need some tools. To cut or trim the deck planks, you will need a circular saw.

Use a speed square for convenience during cutting planks.

To attach the planks and floor joists, you will need a drill driver, palm driver, and joist hanger nails.

You will also need a measuring tape, a leveler, and wood clamps.

Step 2: Measure your deck plan

Now you will need to measure and make guides in the ground for the deck.

Take a measuring tape and from each corner, measure the layout along the edge and diagonally.

Place stakes or batter boards at the corners and use a string to mark the dimensions of the new deck.

Then check that the deck area is correctly marked and that it is squared off at a 90-degree angle.

Now mark where the deck blocks will be. Use a stake to mark the rows.

Step 3: Remove the grass sod

You will be doing a bit of digging to remove the top layer of the yard.

Use a shovel to remove the top layer of the grass sod. Or you can rent a sod cutter from the local home improvement store.

This will expose the ground to lay the deck blocks and to discourage weed.

Step 4: Lay the deck blocks

Deck blocks that are made with ultra-lightweight and versatile material can be found online. If you want concrete deck blocks, find them at your local home improvement store.

You need to plan a grid and keep a gap of 3 to 4 feet between each column. Set each block about 1 foot apart inside each row. Set the concrete or plastic deck blocks following the grid.

Dig a shallow trench with a shovel for each of the columns. Keep the extra soil to fill in any low spots.

Again, to discourage weeds, lay down landscape fabric.

Add paver sand into the trenches and tamp it down with a steel tamper. This helps stabilize the location of the deck blocks.

Now, place the deck blocks down.

Do one column at a time and place the lumber piece over it. Use a leveler to make sure it is level.

This process will help you to create deck footings without digging.

Step 5: Cut the boards with a circular saw

Cut the pressure-treated lumber so that it matches the dimension of the deck.

Wear goggles and gloves when you cut the boards.

Be careful and make sure that children and pets are not wandering around in the area while you are working.

Step 6: Check the alignment and levels

For this step, you will need a helper.

Place the wooden plank on the deck blocks. Tell him/her to hold on to the wood plank while you observe the line level. The level has to be aligned from both sides.

If any board is not level with the ground, you need to make adjustments to the deck blocks.

If the deck block is too high from the ground, wiggle and push down the deck block into the paver sand.

On the other hand, if the pier is too low from the ground, add paver sand to give it the extra height. You likely won’t have to do this if the sand has been tampered down evenly.

Do this step until all the boards are aligned.

Step 7: Place the floor joists on the piers

Now it is time to place the floor joist. Place it carefully on the slots of the docks. Make sure that each beam is aligned.

Step 8: Attach the joists with screws

You will need joist hangers and screws that are rated to support the joist hangers.

As you install the joist hangers, check the alignment.

You can also use joist hanger nails with a pneumatic palm driver to make installing joist hangers faster.

Attach the joist hangers at each section where two beams meet.

Step 9: Place the deck planks

Place the deck plank on the joists.

Again, attach each deck plank to the joist hangers with the screws as you go.

While placing the deck planks, keep a small gap between each deck plank. The difference will allow rainwater or other liquid to fall off the deck quickly.

Step 10: Anchor the deck

You will want to anchor a floating deck to resist the uplift during windy storms. Some building codes will also require it.

Use a shed anchor. Drive it into the ground and attach it to the deck.

Step 11: Even out the deck planks

After placing the deck planks, use a power planer to trim any high points.

Pressure-treated lumber is strong but not always straight. Check for any crowns that can be leveled with the power planer.

Following these steps, you will be able to build the foundation of a deck in the backyard.  A lot of homeowners follow this method because it makes the DIY process easier.

In the next section, we are going to discuss a few questions related to building a deck.

how to build a deck without digging holes

How To Build A Small Deck Platform

You can similarly build a small deck platform with the instructions above. Since small deck platforms are usually floating decks.

Low decks are typically under 7 feet in height. Put down small stakes and attach a string around to draw the line in the area you want to place the deck.

Remove the sod. Then dig the shallow trenches for where the deck blocks will be placed. Lay the landscape tarp and then paver sand. Place the deck blocks in a grid design for support. Then build the deck frame and lay it on the deck blocks.

Check if the frames are level. You will need to adjust the deck blocks to make sure the wood plank sits level to the ground.

Make sure that the deck is set correctly on the concrete blocks. If the height is different in corners, you will have to add paver sand or remove soil according to the level.

Finally, you will need to install the deck boards and trim them if needed. Attach structural screws on the connection points and repeat this process to install the remaining deck planks.

Tips to Build A Deck Without Concrete

You can make a deck with deck blocks and pressure-treated lumber if you don’t want to use concrete.

Choose the height of the deck that is low to the ground, less the 6 feet high, as a requirement for using deck blocks as a foundation.

To make one, first, you will need to place the deck blocks, place the beam planks. Use a level to check if the planks are aligned correctly. Then install joist hangers.

Install shed anchors to make the deck resistant to wind storms.

That is how you will be able to build a deck without concrete.

Building A Deck Without Footings

You can also build a deck without footings.

A deck without footings might be appropriate if it is a low deck platform. Deck blocks, made of concrete or heavy-duty plastic, are strong enough to hold these kinds of deck platforms.

Low decks don’t need footings because they are close to the ground. Then attach shed anchors to the ground and the wood to keep the deck from being lifted in windy storms.

Building a DIY deck in the backyard can be a simpler task when you don’t have to dig down deep, past the frost line, to prevent frost heaving. Depending on the size of the deck, you will need to choose the correct foundation for it.

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