Deck footings on a beachside deck

When you’re planning to build a deck for your home, you need to consider several factors before you begin any work—like what kind of wood to use, where it should be placed, and who’s going to construct it. But one of the most important technical considerations that some people overlook is the type of deck footing you need to install. 

There are several different types of deck footings to choose from, each suited for different uses. The type you pick will depend on your answers to a few questions. For example, is your deck going to be attached to your house, or is it going to be a standalone structure? What are the building codes in your area? How tall and wide is your structure going to be? All these details will help you decide on the right type of deck footing to install. 

Not sure where to start? We’re here to help you make the right choice so you and your family can have a safe outdoor deck for years to come.

What Is a Deck Footing?

A deck footing is a structure that serves as a sturdy foundation for your deck. They are how your deck connects with the ground, so they’re key to having a firm, secure deck.

Only very small decks that are close to the ground can go without this kind of support. If you have a large surface that’s going to be supporting a lot of people and furniture, you will need to build a footing.

Why Is Deck Footing Important?

A deck footing will ensure that your deck doesn’t tip or cave after installation. Footing prevents your deck from rotting away by keeping it high and dry above land.

Deck footings are also required by certain legal codes and regulations, depending on your city. If you neglect to add the proper footing, you could face trouble with your local government—or your deck could even collapse.

What Are the Different Types of Deck Footings?

There are various methods and materials to use when building your deck footing. Each one serves different purposes and falls into different budgets. Let’s go over a few different techniques and materials you can use.

Precast Cement Blocks

Precast cement blocks are probably the cheapest and easiest footings to install.

Each block is buried right beneath the ground’s surface. The blocks should be placed close together, so you may end up needing quite a few blocks even for a small deck. Every block has a convenient notch that you can fit ground-treated lumber into.

Precast cement blocks are an affordable option if you have a deck that is close to the ground and not attached to your house.

However, they’re not the strongest or most durable and they may not meet building codes in certain cities. Be sure to check your area’s regulations before you spend the time and money on the installation process.

Pros

  • Cost-effective
  • Easy to install

Cons

  • May not meet regulations in your area
  • Will not be effective in areas with high winds

Poured Concrete Footings

This footing material involves digging a hole and pouring concrete directly into the ground. Poured concrete footings can be very labor-intensive depending on where you live.

The first step involves digging a deep enough hole below the frost line. The DIY Network notes that the frost line in most areas is usually between 36 and 48 inches. In some northern states, the frost line can be as deep as 70 inches.  

Once you’ve dug a hole of the appropriate depth, you will pour concrete into it. This will form a strong pillar. You can attach your deck’s posts to the top of each pillar using metal brackets. 

During the pouring process, you can either pour the concrete in on its own or use a cardboard form to help guide what you’re doing. 

Even though they take a lot of work to build, concrete footings are some of the strongest materials available. They are ideal for large decks that are high off the floor. They are also perfect for supporting the weight of a hot tub or other large items. 

Pros

  • Permanent
  • Durable

Cons

  • Difficult work
  • Concrete takes time to fully dry

Precast Stackable Cement Footings

Precast stackable cement footings are similar to the previous method. However, they do not require any pouring on your part. You don’t have to worry about mixing the concrete, achieving the right consistency, or pouring it into a hole.

You’ll still need to dig a deep enough hole and drop the heavy pieces into place. Once you stack each piece on top of one another, you’ll be left with a permanent structure that will keep you and your family safe. 

Pros

  • Permanent and durable
  • Quick installation process

Cons

  • High material cost
  • Materials are difficult to transport

Buried Post Footings

Buried post footings are a lot like the poured concrete ones, but they’ll save you some labor. 

To start, you will need to dig below the frost line so you will have a space to pour the concrete footing. 

Once you pour the concrete, you will secure a pressure-treated wood post to it. The entire process doesn’t require as much concrete as the first method, so you will save a lot of time and money. 

Because of its concrete base, this footing method still rewards you with a solid deck that can support a lot of weight. 

Pros

  • Cheaper than traditional poured concrete footings
  • Less labor-intensive

Cons

  • Concrete takes time to fully dry

Screw Piles 

Screw piles, also known as helical piles, are manufactured footings made of steel. They screw down into the ground below the frost line.

To install them, you need hydraulic machinery. Because most people don’t have this kind of equipment lying around, you’ll need to recruit a professional’s help. 

If you want to take on the building process yourself, this is not the best technique to use. 

If screw piles are the kind of footing you want to use, our team can get you in touch with a contractor in your area to install screw piles for your deck. 

Pros

  • Won’t disturb your soil
  • Permanent
  • Fast installation

Cons

  • You can’t install this material yourself
  • Very expensive

Have Questions About Building a Deck? Contact Us! 

It’s important to think hard about the type of deck footing you use because of how integral it’ll be to the finished product. If you still have questions or need help from a pro, contact us and a member of our team can help you out.

Here at Decks & Docks Lumber Company, we are dedicated to helping homeowners construct their dream decks safely. We supply all of the materials you need to get the job done efficiently. 

If you’re interested in building a deck or have questions about which materials to use, reach out to us today!