Homeowners looking to expand their outdoor living spaces often face the decision of whether to build a raised or ground-level deck. Each deck type has advantages and disadvantages, so the choice largely depends on personal preferences, budget, and specific needs. This article will explore the pros and cons of raised and ground-level decks and provide guidance on factors to consider when choosing the right deck for your home.
Comparing Raised and Ground Level Decks
Raised Decks Overview
Raised decks are elevated structures typically built to extend from the main living area of a home. These decks can vary in height, from just a few steps above ground level to several feet in the air. Raised decks give homeowners an elevated view of their surroundings, making them particularly popular in homes with scenic landscapes. Additionally, raised decks can be built over uneven terrain or around existing trees, minimizing the impact on landscaping.
Ground Level Decks Overview
As the name suggests, ground-level decks are built directly on or slightly above the ground. These decks are often more straightforward and less expensive to construct than raised decks. They also provide seamless integration with the surrounding landscape, making them an attractive option for creating a hidden outdoor living area. Ground-level decks can be built using various materials, including wood, composite, or pavers.
Pros and Cons of Raised and Ground-Level Decks
Pros of Raised Decks
- Better views: As mentioned above, raised decks offer an elevated perspective, allowing homeowners to enjoy better pictures of their surroundings. This can be particularly advantageous in homes with scenic landscapes or when privacy is a concern.
- Less impact on landscaping: Raised decks are elevated above the ground, often requiring less modification to the existing landscape. This can help preserve natural features like trees and gardens and minimize the risk of flooding or water damage.
- Additional living space: Raised decks can create extra living space beneath the deck, which can be used for storage or as a shaded patio area.
- Increased resale value: Some studies have shown that raised decks can increase the resale value of a home by up to 10%.
Cons of Raised Decks
- Higher costs: Raised decks typically require more materials and labor to construct, which can result in higher prices than ground-level decks.
- Need for permits: Depending on local building codes and regulations, raised decks may require permits and inspections, adding to the overall cost and time needed for construction.
- Safety concerns: Due to their height, raised decks may pose a higher risk of accidents and injuries, making installing proper railings and following local building codes essential.
- Difficult to access for people with disabilities: Raised decks can be difficult for people with disabilities, such as those using wheelchairs or walkers.
Pros of Ground-Level Decks
- Lower costs: Ground-level decks typically require less materials and labor to construct, which can result in lower prices than raised decks.
- Easier to access: Ground-level decks are easier for people of all abilities.
- No need for permits: In some cases, ground-level decks may not require permits or inspections, depending on local building codes and regulations.
- Less risk of accidents: Ground-level decks pose a lower risk of accidents and injuries than raised decks.
Cons of Ground-Level Decks
- Can impact landscaping: Ground-level decks may require more modification to the existing landscape than raised decks. This can affect the appearance of the yard and the health of plants and trees.
- May not offer the same views: Ground-level decks do not offer the same elevated views as raised decks. This may be a drawback for homeowners who want to enjoy panoramic views of their surroundings.
- May not increase the resale value as much: Some studies have shown that ground-level decks do not increase the resale value of a home as much as raised decks.
Ultimately, the best type of deck for you will depend on your individual needs and preferences. If you are looking for a deck that offers better views and less impact on landscaping, then a raised deck may be a good option. However, a ground-level deck may be a better choice if you are on a budget or have safety concerns.
Factors to Consider when Choosing a Deck
Cost and Budget
- Raised decks typically cost more than ground-level decks because they require more building materials and labor.
- The cost of a deck will also depend on the design’s size, materials, and complexity.
- A ground-level deck may be a better option if you are on a tight budget.
- The maintenance requirements for a deck will depend on the materials used.
- Wood decks require regular sealing and staining to protect them from moisture and UV damage.
- Composite decks are more durable and require less maintenance.
- A composite deck may be a better option if you are unwilling to do regular maintenance.
Aesthetics and Functionality
- Raised decks can provide better views and create a separation from the surrounding landscape.
- Ground-level decks offer more seamless integration with the outdoor environment.
- Consider your needs and preferences to determine which type of deck will best enhance your outdoor living space.
Surrounding Landscape and Terrain
- A raised deck may be the best option if your yard has sloped or uneven terrain.
- Ground-level decks are better suited for flat or gently sloping yards.
- Consider your yard’s natural contours when deciding about deck type.
In addition to these factors, you should also consider the following when choosing a deck:
- The size of your yard
- The number of people who will use the deck
- The climate in your area
- Your style
Deck Installation Tips
Importance of Proper Planning and Preparation
Proper planning and preparation can save you time, money, and headaches in the long run. Here are some things to consider when planning your deck installation:
- Location: Where will your deck be located? Consider the size of your yard, the surrounding landscape, and the sun exposure.
- Size: How big will your deck be? Leave enough space for furniture, walkways, and other features.
- Materials: What materials will you use? Consider the pros and cons of different materials, such as wood, composite, and pavers.
- Design: What style will your deck have? Consider the overall look of your home and yard when making your decision.
- Budget: How much are you willing to spend on your deck? Set a budget and stick to it as much as possible.
Once you have a plan, it’s time to start preparing for construction. This includes things like:
- Obtaining permits: If local building codes require, obtain the necessary permits before starting construction.
- Clearing the site: Remove any trees, shrubs, or other obstacles from the area where your deck will be located.
- Grading the site: Grade the site so that water will drain away from your deck.
- Laying the foundation: Depending on the type of deck you are building, you may need to apply a foundation.
Choosing the Right Materials
The materials you choose for your deck will significantly impact its longevity and maintenance needs. Here are some things to consider when choosing deck materials:
- Durability: How durable is the material? Will it be able to withstand the elements?
- Weather resistance: How resistant is the material to moisture, rain, and snow?
- Maintenance requirements: How much maintenance will the material require?
- Appearance: How does the material look? Will it complement the style of your home and yard?
Once you have considered these factors, you can start narrowing down your choices. Here are some of the most popular deck materials:
- Wood: Wood is a traditional and popular choice for decking. It is durable, weather-resistant, and can be stained or painted to match any style. However, wood requires regular maintenance to prevent rotting and warping.
- Composite: Composite decking is an artificial material made from wood and plastic. It is more durable than wood and requires less maintenance. However, composite decking can be more expensive than wood.
- Pavers: Pavers are a good choice for decks in wet or humid areas. They are durable and require very little maintenance. However, pavers can be more expensive than other deck materials.
Ultimately, the best material for your deck will depend on your individual needs and preferences. Consider the factors mentioned above and choose the suitable material for you.
Tips for DIY Enthusiasts and When to Hire Professionals
If you have experience with carpentry or construction, building a deck may be a feasible DIY project. For more tips on building a deck, check out this helpful guide from Family Handyman. However, hiring a professional deck builder for more complex designs or dealing with challenging terrain may be wise. Additionally, if you need clarification on local building codes or permits, consulting with a professional can save time and potential issues.
Ultimately, deciding between a raised or ground-level deck depends on personal preferences, budget, and specific needs. Both decks offer unique advantages and disadvantages, making it essential to carefully weigh your options and consider cost, maintenance, aesthetics, and surrounding landscape factors. Doing thorough research and consulting with professionals, if needed, can create an outdoor living space that enhances your home and provides years of enjoyment.
Remember to share this comprehensive guide with friends and family who may also be considering a new deck, and leave a comment with your own experiences or tips on choosing the perfect deck for your home.
“Working with a professional deck builder helped us make the best decision for our home. We were initially torn between a raised and ground level deck, but after discussing our needs, budget, and landscape with the expert, we decided on a beautiful composite ground level deck. It seamlessly integrates with our backyard and provides the perfect space for entertaining and relaxing. We couldn’t be happier with the outcome, and the low maintenance requirements have made it even more enjoyable.” – Samantha and Michael Thompson, Happy Homeowners.
1. What are the main differences between raised and ground-level decks?
Raised decks are elevated structures extending from a home’s main living area, while ground-level decks are built directly on the ground or slightly above it. Raised decks offer better views and have less impact on landscaping, while ground-level decks are easier to install and integrate seamlessly with the surrounding landscape.
2. What are the advantages and disadvantages of raised decks?
Advantages of raised decks include better views, less impact on landscaping, and additional living space. Disadvantages have higher costs, the need for permits, and potential safety concerns.
3. What are the advantages and disadvantages of ground-level decks?
Benefits of ground-level decks include more accessible installation, lower costs, and seamless integration with the landscape. Disadvantages have limited design options, the potential for moisture damage, and accessibility challenges.
4. How do the costs of raised and ground-level decks compare?
Raised decks typically cost more than ground-level decks due to the increased materials and labor required for construction. Ground-level decks are generally more cost-effective and easier to install.
5. What factors should I consider when choosing between a raised and ground-level deck?
Consider cost and budget, maintenance requirements, aesthetics and functionality, and surrounding landscape and terrain when deciding between a raised and ground-level deck.
6. What are some deck installation tips?
Important deck installation tips include proper planning and preparation, choosing suitable materials, and knowing when to hire professionals for complex designs or challenging terrain.
7. How do I choose suitable materials for my deck?
Consider durability, weather resistance, and maintenance requirements when selecting the best material for your deck. Popular decking materials include wood, composite, and pavers.