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When building a new composite deck, you will be considering numerous designs before making a final decision. You have the option of building an elevated deck or constructing ground-level decking. Ground-level decks are typically lower in terms of cost when compared with elevated decks. On the other hand, elevated decks require more materials, and the installation process is more challenging and time-consuming.

What is flush ground-level decking?

You can guess from the name that flush ground-level decking is close to the ground. This is a very common option for people looking to build decking in their gardens. A ground-level deck can also connect your back garden to your home or property, which is a desirable aesthetic for homeowners. It is not always required to hire a professional for this project, as you can build a ground-level deck yourself with DIY experience, which can, in turn, reduce the cost of your overall project.

Some elevated decks require planning permission based on your location, whereas ground-level decking doesn’t usually require planning permission unless it covers more than 50% of the area. Despite this, it is still recommended to check the rules and regulations prior to installation. Another benefit of a ground-level garden is that it doesn’t pose any risk—there is no need to fear that you will fall off your decking when you are walking on it. This may be a serious concern if you have children.

How to Build a Flush Ground-Level Decking

Please note that it is always recommended to seek advice from a professional prior to installation, especially if you have any concerns about your project or the installation process. These steps are a simple guide to fitting your composite ground-level decking and great care and safety should always be taken when completing any construction project.

Step 1: Plan Your Decking

Planning your project is crucial to creating an accurate and safe deck in your garden. The first thing to do when building flush ground-level decking is to mark or measure the area where you want to build your composite decking.

If your area has grass, then you will need to remove it with a shovel to create a clear area to build on. After removing the grass, you can cover the area with a weed membrane to prevent grass from growing there again.


Make sure the spot is adequately landscaped so that you get an even surface. You have to consider drainage in your garden. Ensure to factor in a gradient for this to make sure that water does not settle on your composite decking. It is important to ensure that the ground is level before installation.

planning decking work
the structure

Step 2: Build the Substructure

Building a substructure might come as a surprise to you because you are building flush decking that is not high from the ground. Remember that all building materials must have a foundation for them to stay strong on the ground. We recommend using short-treated wooded posts for the foundation of your decking; the posts should be short and sunk deep into the ground. Alternatively, for wooden posts, you can use concrete. Just pour concrete at strategic points in the area where you will install your composite decking. This is where you will concrete your posts. You can then let the concrete set.

If you are building your subframe on a concrete surface, then you can build your subframe directly on top of the concrete surface or even use pedestals to slightly lift the subframe off the ground. However, when installing decking over a soft surface such as soil, you will need to install posts to protect the joists from moisture.

Step 3 Build the Joists

Your joists are what you will install your composite decking boards on. Your joist system is what creates your subframe and provides your decking with its strength. Start with the outer joists and work your way in.

Simply drill your joists together, utilising joist hangers for support. Your subframe should sit in a grid-like formation. Remember that your decking needs to be at least 25mm away from stationary objects such as your property or walls. Ensure that the space between them should not be more than 300mm apart for residential projects. This is to provide the strongest and to stay within your warranty guidelines.

Step 4: Lay the Composite Decking Boards

Arranging your composite decking boards is the next thing after you have built the joists. It is best to start with the edges of your decking. You should use starter clips for the first composite decking boards. Drill your starter clips into your joist below for the boards around the edge of your decking. You mustn’t drill or screw directly through your composite decking boards, as this can cause major damage that will lead to repairs and replacements down the line.

After installing the first decking boards, you should use hidden fasteners for the other composite decking boards. Please ensure that the space between the composite decking boards end to end is at least 6mm. Slide your decking boards easily into clips that have been drilled into your joist system. This is how you will achieve flush ground-level decking where you cannot see any screws or clips. The hidden fastener system will allow for thermal expansion of at least 3 mm from side to side. Continue the process until all the boards are down.

Step 5: Cover the Edges of Your Composite Decking

Composite decking is manufactured with a grooved channel running alongside the board, which is where the clips fit into the boards. You may wish to hide this channel for aesthetic purposes. You may want to install composite decking boards as fascia and finish the edges with corner trim.

Our corner trims are 3.6m in length and can simply be glued on with sumo grip glue for a flush installation without the use of screws. Remember, it is never recommended to screw directly through composite decking, as this will damage its structural integrity and lead to issues down the line. An alternative method is using bullnose boards. However, these have to be installed first due to being fitted with a start clip. Therefore, this must be considered before laying the rest of your boards.

decking closed edges

Conclusion

Flush ground-level composite decking is the most popular type of decking and can be installed fairly easily in comparison to other materials. If you have DIY experience, you may well be able to install your decking yourself without the need to hire a professional. Follow the simple steps above for the process; remember to check with a professional first if you have any concerns and also to check if your project requires planning permission.

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