Guide to Building a Detached Deck

Decks offer the perfect place to enjoy the great outdoors. Whether sipping a cup of coffee while the sun rises or barbequing with family and friends, decks offer a bevy of benefits no one can deny. 

That said, building an attached deck involves a lot of planning and work. It can be difficult and time-consuming at best. Although the result is worth it, money and time constrictions can make building an attached deck a problem. 

Enter: the detached deck. Much simpler and cheaper to build, a detached deck offers all the same outdoor enjoyment without as much hassle or expense. Here’s how to build a detached deck anywhere on your property. 

What You’ll Need

Materials

  • (9) Concrete pier blocks with metal brackets
  • (3) Pressure-treated four-by-fours, each 12 feet long
  •  (9) Bags of 0.8 cubic foot 7/8-inch drainage rock
  • Two-by-eight pressure treated boards for decking, each 8 feet long
  • #9 by 1 1/2-inch external hex flange hex-head connector screws
  • #8 x 2 1/2-inch coarse thread polymer-coated exterior screws or hidden deck fastener system

Tools

  • Marking paint
  • Tape measure
  • Wood stakes
  • Twine
  • Posthole digger
  • Spade
  • Wrench set
  • Bubble level
  • Electric miter saw
  • Oil-based wood preservative for cut ends
  • Drill, with driver and drill bits
  • Carpenter’s pencil
  • Circular saw
  • Hammer

How to Do It

1. Mark the Area

Lay out the concrete pier blocks by measuring one row of three blocks four feet on-center between each block. 

Make a second row parallel to the first three feet away.

Make a third row parallel to the second row three feet away

2. Decide Hole Depth

Some areas require the concrete pier blocks to be in the ground while others allow the blocks to rest on top of firm soil. Check the building code in your area to determine hole depth for your foundation blocks. 

3. Dig for the Pier Blocks

Remove the soil and dig holes for the blocks. Pour a layer of drainage rock before inserting the blocks. 

With the drainage rock in place, place the pier blocks in the holes. Pay special attention to the direction of the metal brackets to be sure they are all facing the same way. 

4. Test the Deck Beam Fit

Place a 4 x 4 in each hole and press down firmly to seat the beam in each bracket.

5. Level and Adjust

Use a bubble level or laser level to check each beam for level. Check from two directions and if any are off, they must be adjusted. 

6. Attach the Beams

Attach the beams to the brackets in each pier block. 

7. Attach the Deck Boards

Using deck screws or a hidden fastener system, attach the deck boards to the deck beams. Use two screws per beam, making sure to drive each screw level with the face of the board. 

If you’re using a hidden fastener system, follow the instructions closely for an invisible finish. 

Decks provide a great place to enjoy the great outdoors. If you’ve always wanted a deck but don’t want the hassle of building an attached one, try the step-by-step instructions above for an easier, cheaper detached version.