Home Improvement How-To's: Build a Ground Level Deck

Decks are a perfect area for outdoor entertaining and outdoor relaxing. The style of deck you choose to build determines how you use your deck, as well as how you build it. Although similar in appearance, different decks can require different construction techniques.

You will see how the deck was assembled, why material choices were made, and the approximate time it took to do the work. Use this example to help you plan your own deck.



Experienced: 2 day
Handy: 3 1/2 days
Novice: 4 days

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Batterboards and mason's string lines were used to lay out footing locations for a deck that is approximately 8 feet wide and 10 feet long. Six holes for 8-inch-diameter footings were dug with a posthole digger. Each hole is 12 inches deep. There is no frost line to deal with since this is a freestanding deck. Tube forms were used to level the footings about 1 inch above ground level.

Approximate time for a novice (with a helper) to lay out footing locations, dig holes and level tube forms for this deck: 5-7 hours.


Six 60-pound bags of ready-mix concrete were mixed in a wheelbarrow. Post anchors for 4x4 posts were attached to the footings after the concrete cured for 48 hours. The anchors were aligned with a long straight board. Diagonal measurements were checked to square the anchor positions.

Approximate time (not including curing time): 3-4 hours


3 Beams were made from double 2x6s. They were attached in the post anchors. A 1/2-inch-thick pressure-treated shim was installed between the beam and one side of the anchor at each footing. The anchor is 3 1/2 inches wide and the beam is 3 inches thick.

Approximate time: 2-3 hours.


4 Beam alignment was checked and adjusted as necessary to make certain beams were square.

Approximate time: 1/2-3/4 hour.


5 2x6 rim joists were attached to the ends of the beams. Angle brackets were installed to provide additional support for the corner joints.

Approximate time: 1-1 1/2 hours.


6 Inner 2x6 joists were attached to the beam faces with joist hangers.

Approximate time: 3-5 hours.


7 2x6 decking was installed perpendicular to the joists. Decking was fastened with deck screws. Ends of boards hang over edge of deck and will be trimmed to length after installation.

Approximate time: 1 1/2-2 hours.


8 A chalk line was snapped to mark a straight cutting line. Decking was trimmed to length with a circular saw.

Approximate time: 1/4-1/2 hour.

Total approximate time for this ground-level deck:
16-24 hours.