Building a Strong Deck Foundation without Concrete

A deck that’s constructed without concrete footers — the columns of concrete poured into holes that support the deck — is called a floating deck. A floating deck sits directly on the ground or on deck blocks or deck piers to support the deck.

Building a deck without concrete footings can create some challenges, but there are ways to plan the deck and prepare the area that will allow you to build a long lasting deck without concrete.

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Options for Building a Deck Without Concrete

Go with a Smaller Size

The International Residential Code (IRC) R507.3 states that a deck that doesn’t exceed 200 square feet can be built without concrete footings. For these smaller decks, floating deck construction strategies can be used to build a deck without concrete footers.

Stay Low

If a deck is going to be higher than waist height or about three feet off the ground, digging footers is likely going to be the best option. If the deck is going to be at ground level, the IRC doesn’t require footings for free-standing decks under certain circumstances:

  • If their joists are directly supported on grade over their entire length

  • If the walking surface is 20 inches or less above grade

  • If joists rest directly on precast concrete pier blocks without support by beams or posts

Prepare the Ground

Building a deck without concrete requires proper surface preparation to create a stable deck foundation. The sod and topsoil should be removed from the area where the deck will be built, and the soil should be compacted to reduce the likelihood of settling or cracking. Landscape fabric can be used to cover the area and deter any weeds from growing under the deck.

Finally, before installing the deck blocks, lay an aggregate — for instance, pea gravel, paver base, or sand — in the prepared area to give the deck blocks something to rest on and reduce the chance that they’ll shift or settle.

Use Deck Blocks

When you’re planning a deck without concrete, consider deck blocks as an alternative to concrete footings. For small decks that are low to the ground, deck blocks can provide the necessary support on which you can build the deck frame. Deck blocks can be concrete or heavy duty plastic and include space to rest beams and posts.

Consider Composite Pavers

Composite pavers are a great alternative to concrete pavers because they are lightweight and easier to install. They come in a variety of colors and sizes that will help achieve the traditional paver look on a deck.

Choose the Right Substrate

Once the deck framing system is constructed, installing the right substrate for your project will give the pavers a stable base on which to rest. This can be wood planks or modular substrates. Choosing the right substrate will help create a deck that will last.

Benefits of Aspire’s Composite Pavers When Building a Deck without Concrete Footings


Concrete footings are used to hold the deck in place, in order to prevent it from sinking into the ground or shifting and tipping over. If you build a deck without concrete footings, light-weight composite pavers can readily be laid over any structural substrate, such as wood or metal or joists, with a structural surface on top, such as plywood, steel, or structural plastic. Our pavers are one-third the weight of traditional concrete pavers, which makes them easier to transport to the installation site and allows them to put less strain on the deck frame and support system.


When you build a deck, you want it to last as long as possible, so you can get the maximum enjoyment out of it. Composite pavers are highly durable and are stain-, scratch-, and crack-resistant and able to stand up to everyday spills like ketchup or barbeque sauce. Aspire Pavers come with a 10 year warranty and a lifetime no crack guarantee in pedestrian applications.

Easy to Install

Once the deck frame and substrate has been installed, installing the pavers is incredibly easy. To install Aspire Pavers, simply lay our patented installation grids on the substrate and then place the pavers in the desired pattern. Our pavers can be cut to size with common household tools with no special skills required. The installation system takes less than 40% of the time it takes to install traditional concrete pavers which lets you enjoy your new deck fast.

Multiple Colors and Sizes

Aspire Pavers come in Classic Series and Designer Series and range from Redwood for a traditional brick look to Deep Sea and Charcoal for a unique aesthetic. Our color choices paired with multiple sizes will allow you to create a one-of-a-kind design that matches your home’s aesthetic.

Contact the experts at Aspire today to discuss how our paver options can help you build a deck without concrete.