Floating Deck Design Ideas

A floating deck can be a money-saving design because certain building codes don’t apply.
By: John Riha
Raised Lounging Deck With Hot Tub

Raised Lounging Deck With Hot Tub

And

The Outdoor Room With Jamie Durie

A floating deck, also called a free standing deck, is simply a deck that’s not attached to any structure, including (of course) your house. To understand how to build a floating deck, here are a few basics.

As an independent structure, a floating deck has a few advantages over an attached deck. Primarily, frost-proof footings aren’t required. That means you don’t have to dig and install concrete footings which in many areas of the country must be 36 to 48 inches deep. Instead, you can put your deck’s structural members — posts, girders, and joists — on precast pier blocks set directly in the ground. That saves you money, and your back.

Floating Decks 01:07

The crew builds a pair of decks that appear to float above a manmade creek.

You’ll also avoid having to install a ledger, the framing member that is the connection point between your deck and your house. You won’t have to cut away your house’s siding, install flashing, and do annual checkups on the health and safety of your ledger. Translation: less hassle, more savings.

Beyond that, a floating deck can do just about everything else an attached deck can do: host parties, provide lounging areas, and include built-in planters and benches. With the freedom to put your deck anywhere, you can:

• Create a haven away from your house. If you plan a floating deck toward the boundaries of your property, you’ll need to know the setback restrictions in your neighborhood.

• Take advantage of existing trees and shrubs by positioning your deck for shade and privacy — even build the deck around trees to incorporate nature in the design (but allow enough room for future tree growth).

• Build a walkway or lounging deck around your above-ground pool or hot tub.

• Build a low deck that’s an extension of an existing patio.

Contemporary Gulf-Front Deck With Dining Area

Contemporary Gulf-Front Deck With Dining Area

Photo by: Michael Saunders & Company, a member of Luxury Portfolio International

Michael Saunders & Company, a member of Luxury Portfolio International

You can build a floating deck that’s right next to your house, too. You just won’t be attaching it in any way to your home’s structure. Plan to keep the edge of your free standing deck about 1 inch away from your home’s siding.

You’ll have to install extra posts and foundation piers to carry the weight of the deck that normally would be supported by a ledger; check your local building authorities for code requirements in your area. Plus, you’ll probably need to add cross-bracing and other strengthening measures to the posts and girders to help stiffen the deck support system, especially for decks with a walking surface more than 30 inches above grade — check your local codes.

Raised Lounging Deck With Hot Tub

Raised Lounging Deck With Hot Tub

And

The Outdoor Room With Jamie Durie

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