If you were to take a quick tour of backyards in the Mid-Atlantic area, you would see decks of all materials, styles, and shapes, from elevated cedar to vinyl hot tub decks.
However, one type of deck would appear more frequently today than in previous years: the ground-level deck. This type of deck design is gaining popularity among builders and homeowners alike due to its dramatic appearance and design. Below are 11 of our top advantages of choosing a ground-level deck for your home:
- Eliminating railing. Ground-level decks typically do not require railing if they are less than 30 inches off the ground. Without unsightly railings, decks feel less confined and offer unobstructed vistas of the surrounding area.
- Location versatility. Unlike elevated decks, ground-level decks do not have to be attached to the structure of your home. You can build such a structure in virtually any area of your yard, such as near a prominent landscape feature or self-planted garden. These types of decks can also be used to conceal uneven or rocky ground, converting the area into an attractive living space.
- Design integration. You can easily integrate a ground level deck into your existing landscape design by installing planters around the deck for trees, shrubs, and other vegetation. In addition, large ground level decks do not overpower your home in a way that an elevated deck might.
- Suitable for hot tubs and pools. While it is difficult to construct an elevated deck that can support the enormous weight of a hot tub or pool, ground-level decks can more easily be designed to accommodate these features.
- Lack of special considerations. There are a few design considerations to take into account when discussing your plans with your contractor.
- Railing requirements. Keep in mind that railing is required if your deck is more than 30 inches above the ground. If you’re interested in building a deck without railings, it will have to meet this strict criterion in order to pass inspection.
- Defining the parameter. If you do choose to forgo railings for your ground level deck, it’s important to have some other method of defining the parameters of your deck in place to prevent people from stumbling off the side. Consider installing low-voltage recess lights, or building planters or wooden benches around the edge of your deck to create visible boundaries.
- Footing requirements. Every region in the country has its own unique requirements in regards to footing size and depth for decks. In Maryland, footing depth must be a minimum of 32 inches. A typical concrete footer is 20” x 20” x 10”.
- Airflow considerations. Airflow is one of the most important aspects to consider when building a ground level deck. Without proper airflow, mildew and rot may begin to spread. To allow for proper airflow, the deck should not be closed off or too close to the ground.
- Decking material. The type of decking material you choose for your deck can also help prevent mildew growth. It’s highly advisable to choose a material that is resilient to mold and mildew, such as PVC or ASA decking. With porous materials such as composite or pressure-treated wood, moisture can get inside the board and allow mildew to flourish.
- Planning for inspection. Ground level decks require a low-framing inspection, so you should make arrangements to have your deck project inspected before you install the decking. This way, the inspector will be able to view and approve the frame without having to take the deck apart.