When you want to add outdoor living space to your home, a deck is one of the most cost-effective and useful options. A flat deck is a smaller version of the traditional elevated decks. They’re also known as low-pitch or low-profile decks. These smaller versions are perfect for houses with narrow lots or homes that have a second floor that’s as high as or higher than the standard first floor ceiling height. They’re also useful in homes where there’s no access from ground level or other means of entry other than through an upper story window. Building a flat deck requires specialized carpentry skills, along with some unique tools and techniques. But if you follow these step-by-step instructions, it’s not as difficult as it might seem at first glance.
What Is A Flat Deck?
A flat deck is a smaller-scale version of a raised deck. Flat decks are often built at ground level, rather than raised above the ground. These ground-level decks are also sometimes referred to as a low-profile or low-pitch deck. The main difference between a raised deck and a ground deck is that the latter can be built right up against the house.
Flat decks are particularly useful for houses with lower roofs. If the roof line is only a few inches above ground level, you can build the deck directly against the house. Another good reason to choose a flat deck is if you don’t have enough room for a raised deck. Raised decks need room on all sides for the support posts and footings. A ground-level deck can be built right up against a wall, fence, or other structure.
Step 1: Decide Which Room To Turn Into An Outdoor Room
The first step in building a flat deck is deciding which room will become an outdoor room. If you’re building a flat deck with the intention of using it as a garden room, dining area, or kitchen extension, start by creating a sketch of your garden room’s layout. Once you know the size and shape of your proposed garden room, you can choose the right spot to build it. You want to put your garden room in a location that doesn’t interfere with any part of your home’s interior. If you’re using your deck as a space for entertaining guests, decide how many people you want to seat comfortably. Then, use your sketch to help you determine the best size for your deck.
Step 2: Hire A Contractor
Once you’ve decided where to put your flat deck, hire a contractor to help you design and build it.
Design – A good contractor will help you figure out the best location for your flat deck. He or she will also help you determine the best design for the deck’s footprint and the materials you need to build it. Building
Materials – Different materials are required to build a flat deck than are needed for a standard raised deck. A standard deck is built on a frame made from posts and beams. A flat deck needs to be built against the house, so it can’t be raised off the ground. Therefore, it uses materials such as posts, beams, and joists that can be attached directly to the house.
Step 3: Purchase The Materials Needed
If you hire a contractor to design and build your flat deck, they’ll recommend the materials needed to build it. If you design and build the deck yourself, use this guide to help you decide which materials to use to build your deck.
Deck Reinforcements – When attaching the deck’s posts, beams, and joists to the house, use metal fasteners designed for this purpose.
Framing – Use pressure-treated lumber for the framing on a flat deck. This type of lumber is resistant to rot and insects.
Flooring – Use pressure-treated lumber for the deck’s flooring. This will prevent the wood from rotting due to moisture.
Railings – Use pressure-treated lumber for the deck’s railing posts. This lumber is resistant to rot and insects.
Siding – Use exterior-grade plywood siding for the flat deck’s walls. Plywood is thicker than standard indoor plywood, making it suitable for outdoor use. Decks take a lot of abuse over the years. The sun’s UV rays, rain, snow, and pests like termites can damage or destroy a deck’s materials. For this reason, it’s important to use materials that are both durable and resistant to the outdoor elements.
Step 4: Lay Out The Foundation
When building a flat deck, the first step is laying out the deck’s foundation. You can do this yourself, or you can hire a contractor to help you. The contractor will come out to your home and mark the location of the deck’s footings and posts. Once you’ve laid out the deck’s foundation, you can begin digging the holes for the footings.
Deck Footings – To build a flat deck, you’ll need to dig holes for the deck’s footings. Footings are holes that are 6” to 8” deep. They have the same purpose as footings on a raised deck. But instead of being filled with concrete, a flat deck’s footings are filled with concrete blocks, metal, or wood. The type of footing you choose depends on your soil type. It’s important to use the right footing when building a flat deck. This type of deck needs to be completely supported by the ground, so it can’t be raised off the ground.
Step 5: Install The Beams
After you’ve laid out the deck’s foundation, it’s time to install the beams. The beams are large pieces of lumber that are laid across the footings. They help distribute the deck’s weight across the footings. A flat deck has fewer beams than a deck that’s raised off the ground. This is because the flat deck’s beams are resting on the footings, not the ground. The beams are attached to the house, so they don’t need to support the deck’s weight. It’s important to attach the beams to the house using metal brackets or straps. This will prevent the beams from pulling away from the house as they support the deck.
Step 6: Install The Framing And Flooring
After you’ve installed the beams and attached them to the house, it’s time to install the framing and flooring. First, install the beams that will support the deck’s roof. Next, install the deck’s roof by laying roof rafters across the beams. Finally, add the remaining framing to support the deck’s walls. After the framing has been installed, use 2 x 4 lumber to lay the deck’s flooring. Make sure the boards are laid in a grid pattern. This will help to ensure that the boards remain level.
Step 7: Install The Railings And Stairs
After the deck’s framing and flooring have been installed, it’s time to install the railings and stairs. Most state building codes require a railing on all sides of a flat deck. The railing should extend at least 36” above the deck’s flooring. It should also be made of wood, metal, or a combination of the two. Stairs can be tricky to build on a flat deck. Because they’re lower than a raised deck, they’ll be lower than most stairs. This can make them difficult to navigate, especially if you have small children or elderly guests visiting your home. One way to get around this problem is to add an extra-long step at the end of each stair.
Building a flat deck is a big project. It’s best left to the professionals. If you have the time and energy, you can certainly try to build one yourself. But hiring a contractor is safer and more efficient. Before you hire a contractor, make sure they have experience building flat decks. Not all contractors have the skills and tools necessary to build a flat deck.