Black & Decker 'floating deck' instructions?

spanky_mdJune 8, 2007

I want to build a 12' x 25' ground level deck. It will be as close to grade as possible due to grading issues and that our back door sill is already only an inch or two above grade. We have just had the yard graded and that's as good as it's gonna get.

Anyway, I found the instruction below from Black & Decker. It's a platform deck built on precast concrete footings that are set on the ground. Each one has a slotted top to accept joists, which are not fastened to the footing at all, they just rest in it. There are no poured footings.

I'm just wondering how these work in areas where the ground can freeze and thaw several times over the winter. If the joists are just resting in the slots, can the wood framing move enough that it won't crack? I know that some footings could end up higher or lower than others since the ground won't heavy at an even rate over the whole area.

Has anyone built a deck like this? It seems like it would be way less work than pouring concrete footings. I hate mixing concrete and would love to skip that part of this whole business if we can.

Black & Decker 'platform deck'

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If it were my deck, next to my house, I'd put in the footings to keep it from shifting which could be more than annoying if it were to heave higher than your door sill. I really think you have a nice opportunity for a paver patio.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2007 at 8:53AM
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Pavers would be the way to go except that this is kind of a temporary deck that I hope will only be there a few years. I want to add on to the house and this deck would have to be removed to do that. But a deck would really increase our enjoyment of the yard in the few years before we get the addition, and I think wood is the cheapest way to go and also the easiest to remove, maybe..? We did a brick patio set in sand once and it was more work than this would be, I think.

So that's why we ruled out pavers of any kind.

How high could the deck heave?

The other way to do it would be to make a small paved well at the door, like one square yard, and then the rest of the deck could be a short step up from that. That would be enough to get the door open no matter what the deck did or didn't do. And we also wouldn't have to excavate much at all under where the deck would be. But it wouldn't look as nice.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2007 at 9:03AM
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Well, If I were forced to do what you describe, building permit aside, I would do like I did for an 8x8 shed I built. My building inspector did approve this for the shed & there has been no noticable heave or shift. He did have me anchor the floor framing to the ground with angle iron hammered into the ground mabe 3 ft deep.

Dig trenches 6-8 inches deep around the perimeter and maybe 16in OC or 24in OC depending on your joist size. Fill the trenches with gravel and lay down some 4x4 pressure treated on top of the trenches. Level up the timbers. Frame the deck joists like you would a wall and float the deck joists on the 4x4s. anchor to the ground with angle iron, maybe at all the corners. I'm no engineer, but with more distributed oontact on the ground, I would expect a lot less heave.

Good luck, this will also give you a really low profile. on my shed, the 4x4 structure finished flush with grade & my 2x4 joists result in 2inches above grade.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2007 at 9:56AM
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That sounds like a very good alternative. Thanks so much!

    Bookmark   June 9, 2007 at 1:13PM
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Check out for info on this type of deck, materials, and material calculators. We built an 8' x 20' deck like this about 7 years ago and have had no problems with it. We are in the northeast.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2007 at 12:33PM
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Saw this post and it really has me rethinking my patio addition.

does anyone know if this requires a permit if it isnt connected to the house? in Raleigh, NC.


    Bookmark   June 11, 2007 at 10:53AM
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How did this turn out? I am also near Raleigh and was thinking of using a floating system.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2007 at 1:46PM
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If I remember correctly, when we lived in Raleigh, a deck not connected to the house and under a certain height, did not require a permit. Double check with the office though.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2007 at 11:23PM
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I built a floating 25x30 deck for my kids to play hoops on. I built it two years ago and it has worked out well. The only issue thus far is inconsistent frost heave. I live in northern MN, and the area beneath the deck does not have the benefit of snow insulation--thus, the frost penetrates the ground deeper. The deck gets lifted off some of the footings (primarily the perimeter footings, as they heave the least). In the spring the deck drops back down to its normal position.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2007 at 9:42AM
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Thanks, all. I am encouraged. It will still be awhile before we can build the deck but I think this will save us a bunch of time and energy and some money, too.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2007 at 5:59PM
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I want to add a few things to this . I live in NJ and I was looking up floating decks. I did find that site, but it says that those blocks are not permitted in this state. I wonder why?

    Bookmark   June 12, 2008 at 9:19AM
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Hi there.
I hope we can be of assistance. We have a polypropylene adjustable support that can be used for tiles, pavers or timber panels. Using the Deck Jak system, level entry can be achieved over uneven ground (Although a solid base is required to sit the Deck Jaks on)Please check our web site to learn more or email me direct at
Kind Regards

Here is a link that might be useful: Deck Jaks

    Bookmark   September 2, 2008 at 12:31AM
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Hi Saga,

How is your deck? I also live in MN and am looking to build a floating deck using deck blocks. I figure it should be a green light for me if your deck is still doing well after this many years. Thanks.


    Bookmark   June 29, 2009 at 11:05AM
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