Tips and Ideas on How To Build a Floating Deck

Posted by: on May 9th, 2014 | 20 Comments
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Tips and Ideas on How To Build a Floating Deck

Perhaps the most striking feature of Kristin Jackson’s recent backyard makeover is the island deck– or floating deck– she and her husband built. It’s a pleasant, shady spot in her backyard that incorporates the trees in its design. Kristin is an interior designer and author of the design and DIY blog The Hunted Interior, so it’s no wonder the deck not only looks wonderful, but it’s also so well constructed.

Kristin kindly offered to share her how-to for her deck… or maybe it’s more of a how-it-was-done. Either way, she offers some good ideas on how to build a floating deck similar to hers in your backyard, as well as some building and planning tips that come from her experience with this project. 

Wanting to add some functionality and much needed curb appeal to our backyard, we decided to build an island (or floating) deck in between our existing trees. The landscape, or lack there of, provided a blank slate to create a backyard oasis to relax on.

Our original plan was to build the one-level, step-up deck in between the four trees, but after trying to maneuver around the exposed roots, we learned our best solution was to shift the deck over and have the deck encompass one of our existing trees. This made our original straight forward square deck a little more complicated, but not too much.

We also considered the size and materials for the deck. We knew we wanted to use Veranda Composite Decking as the deck floor. This meant we would need more support to carry the weight, as well as the inherit flexibility these boards have. We also wanted to have as little waste as possible (and make fewer cuts!) so we decided to use the size of the existing boards and created a 16 x 16 ft. footprint. This made life so much easier!!


Tips and Ideas on How To Build a Floating Deck

We used concrete deck blocks as our base… 52 of them for the extra support. Those suckers are heavy.

Once we determined our ideal placement, we leveled out our square exterior frame. Utilizing the concrete footings, we placed our pressure treated 2 x 6 lumber into the grooves to maintain their vertical position. Think real life Lincoln Logs.

Tips and Ideas on How To Build a Floating Deck: Deck Block

As most yards are not 100 percent level, we used 4 x 4 pressure treated lumber, cut to size, to prop up the 2 x 6 framing to create a level frame.

Tips and Ideas on How To Build a Floating Deck: Beam Laid Across Deck Block

To ensure your initial exterior frame is perfectly square, measure diagonally from corner to corner. Both of your measurements should be the same. Also, place a large level on all corners to insure you are level before continuing to the interior supports. The extra effort up front will guarantee a level and secure deck in the end.

We marked out our interior support beams at every 16 inches and marked them on both sides of the frame. This helped in lining up and attaching the 2 x 6 boards. This also helped us to line up and lay out our interior deck footings. We laid them out as equally as possible, but we did have to shift some of them due to the exposed roots.

Tips and Ideas on How To Build a Floating Deck

We attached our interior supports using deck screws from the outside of the frame into the supports. We then measured and cut our 4 x 4 pieces to fit where needed. The long 16 ft. supports went fairly quick thanks to our pre-planning. We worked from the edges into the center and left the blocking of the tree for last knowing that would require more thought.

Wanting to create a frame around our tree, making sure we left plenty of room for it to grow, we placed perpendicular supports off of our interior support beams making sure to have them lined up with four of the concrete footings. We screwed them in and created an interior box to frame the tree. We then followed the shape of the tree by adding some angular blocking as well. Each tree is different, so just be sure to account for the shape and growth rate when considering this as an option.

Tips and Ideas on How To Build a Floating Deck

Tips and Ideas on How To Build a Floating Deck

A weekend later, a deck had begun to take shape!

Tips and Ideas on How To Build a Floating Deck

The next weekend we began to lay the top decking boards. These composite boards are heavy and extremely flexible, so be sure to have help when moving these around. Your deck boards will lay the opposite direction over your support beams for added support. And again, using the 16 ft. materials we simply laid on the entire board and screwed them down. No trimming necessary.

We used the composite deck screws to attach our boards. This meant placing two screws per support beam. These screws also required pilot holes first, so we created an assembly line of sorts–I went ahead and drilled the pilot holes while my husband came behind to drive the screws in.

Tips and Ideas on How To Build a Floating Deck

When it came to the tree, we trimmed our boards as close as possible and placed them as we would the other boards. We then later went back and used a jigsaw to cut out the hole following the shape of the tree. Each year we will trim the hole as needed as not to choke the tree.

After leveling our deck initially, we realized that one side of the deck had a comfortable step up, where the other side felt a bit too high. To keep our guests from trying to make the big step, we utilized landscaping both to help direct traffic as well as soften the look of the square deck.

Tips and Ideas on How To Build a Floating Deck

We also used pavers and gravel to form a more formal entrance as well.

Tips and Ideas on How To Build a Floating Deck

We’ve used other landscaping to disguise the exposed deck piers, and I also gave them a quick coat of textured spray paint to have them blend into the deck a little better.  This helped a lot.

The actual build out of the deck took us two solid weekends and a babysitter. My husband and I did this entirely ourselves, so a few extra hands could have made this go a little faster.

Materials Used


Take a look at more DIY projects here on The Home Depot blog. And follow our Outdoor Living board on Pinterest for more ways to enjoy the outdoors. 

Kristin did this project for The Home Depot’s Patio Style Challenge. The ideas and opinions she expressed are her own.

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Leave a Comment

  1. George Carvill says:

    52 concrete blocks. That’s a lot of blocks. Is there a picture to show how they are laid out? Looks like they all support the joists directly. Would it not be easier to use some 4-by beams or sleepers?

  2. Terry says:

    I am wanting to make a 10×5 floating deck. And I also have a large tree to go around on side of house. Wanting it next to house. Any tips

  3. Alice says:

    I like this plan; mine will be inside a roofed cyclone fencing enclosure attached to a small building/shed (cats’ apartment) and the interior is 10×10. I do not plan on using a ledger board. Any suggestions regarding modifying your materials list for a 10×10 (I will probably use cedar or pressure treated deck boards even though it is covered. Thank you for your response

  4. Christine says:

    Found you via Pinterest, via GardenGlove. :)
    I was curious about the concrete blocks. You set them directly on the ground?
    I can’t imagine them not sinking, unless your soil is so incredibly compacted. Your original picture did look that way. I’m trying to figure out how to do this on my more soft soil.
    I follow your blog, so I’ll also pop over there.
    Great job!

  5. Veronica says:

    I’d love to start on a DIY project like this but I am having trouble finding the deck blocks that were used here. I live in california and have scoured the internet but cannot find those exact ones. Would I be able to substitute them with concrete pier blocks instead?

    • Craig Allen says:


      It appears that the links to the deck blocks in the article were broken. I apologize for that. I’ve fixed the links.

      The deck blocks are here.

      And to answer your question, concrete pier blocks should work, too. That’s essentially what these deck blocks are. The advantage of these particular blocks is that they are molded with the slots for the 2 x 6′s.

      -Craig, from The Home Depot

  6. Czuboka says:

    I also am wondering what was used to attach the 2×6′s to the 4×4 support posts. Can someone elaborate on this step??

  7. Whitney says:

    Love the patio furniture and cushions. Are they also from The Home Depot or someplace else?

  8. it is all a very good project. 1 suggestion. When it comes to building around the tree wouldn’t it be better to stop 1 to 2 feet away from the tree in a square and use that space as a flower garden instead of having to trim the deck boards each year.

  9. Holly says:

    wow nice love love love it.

  10. Michele Claeys says:

    How do I make or buy the rope hung topiary? They are lovely.

  11. SuePS says:

    Great project; however, I believe you meant “every 16 INCHES” rather than “We marked out our interior support beams at every 16 feet” That would have been a heckuva big deck! :D

  12. TH says:

    Nice!! What holds the 2×6 framing in place that you propped up to create a level frame that are not sitting directly in the concrete pier grooves? I see they are sitting on 4×4 but won’t those shift?

  13. Paula Johns says:

    I LOVE, LOVE LOVE THIS FLOATING DECK! I’m still so upset that when I purchased my new home 2-1/2 yes ago, I HAD the same deck BUT…the homeowners insurance company came by and made a big deal of it even though it was not breaki.g any city codes :( They sent me a letter stating I had 15 days to either add rails and stairs on it (estimate was $860) or tear it apart because it was a ‘hazard’. After a few days of mulling it over and considering the money I had to spend for appliances and gutters…I felt I had to have it dismantled:( I have been sad about it every since. I should have spent the money. Great job on the makeover!

  14. One of the best backyard makeovers ever. Kristin always blows me away.

  15. I can not even believe you guys did this yourself?!?!?!? You are the ultimate DIY power couple!!! Well done!!

  16. Amy says:

    Wow!!! What an amazing transformation Kristen and the bocce ball court is spectacular!

  17. [...] the deck was a two-weekend project for my husband and me. I’ve written a quick rundown on how we built this deck here on The Home Depot [...]