How to build a ground level wood deck

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Backyard decks are a quintessential part of suburban America. While many newer decks are built with composites and other manufactured wood products, the majority of backyard decks are constructed using treated lumber frames and decking. Most decks are built at the level of the floor of the house. To really set yourself apart, dig down below grade slightly and build a deck on the same level as your yard.

Mark out the area that the proposed deck will cover. For this tutorial assume a deck 8 feet square. To fit your installation, substitute your own dimensions. Drive a wood stake into the ground in each corner of the deck space. Tie mason's string between the stakes to outline the deck.

Dig out the sod and soil inside the outline of the mason's twine to a depth of 11 inches. Level the soil inside the outline with a rake. Set a level on an 8-foot 2-by-8 to check level across the area. Adjust as needed.

Set one 12-inch square concrete paver, 1-½ inches thick in each corner of the space and one in the centre of each edge of the hole. These will support the frame of the deck as footings.

Layout two 8-foot 2-by-8s with 2-by-6 joist hangers centred every 16 inches along the boards. Use a square to mark the joist hanger positions. Attach one side of each joist hanger with 1-¼ inch treated deck screws and leave the opposite side loose to set a 2-by-6 joist into.

Cut two 2-by-8s to length at 93 inches. Set the two 8-foot 2-by-8s against two opposite sides of the deck outline you dug. Set the two 93-inch pieces against the two remaining sides, between the 8 foot boards. Nail the joints together to form an 8-foot square.

Cut five 8-foot 2-by-6s to 93 inches. Set one in each pair of joist hangers. Attach the loose side of the joist hanger with treated deck screws. Use every available hole to make a firm joint.

Lay 8-foot long, 5/4 inch deck boards across the space starting flush with one of the 8-foot 2-by-8s. Space between boards using the square as a spacer. Attach the deck boards with two 1-5/8 inch screws through each deck board into each 2-by-6 inch joist.

Place plugs of cut sod along the outside of the 2-by-8s to fill any gaps between the deck and the lawn. Remove the stakes and mason's twine. Trim around the deck by running the wheels of the mower up on it.

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