When it comes to building a deck, homeowners have various options to consider, including the type of foundation to use. Deck blocks have gained some attention as a potentially convenient and cost-effective choice. However, you may be uncertain about the suitability and reliability of deck blocks as a foundation. Let’s address these concerns with some valuable insights to help you make an informed decision for your deck project.
Potential Risks Associated with Using Deck Blocks
Using deck blocks includes potential risks, such as instability, shifting, and a lack of long-term durability.
Due to their relatively small footprint and reliance on the ground’s bearing capacity, deck blocks can be prone to instability. In areas with unstable soil conditions or frost heaves like the Upper Midwest, deck blocks may sink over time, leading to an uneven and potentially unsafe deck surface.
As deck blocks are not securely anchored to the ground like alternative foundation options, they can be susceptible to movement, especially in areas with soil that lacks proper compaction or load-bearing capacity.
Lack of Long-term Durability
Deck blocks are typically made of molded concrete or composite materials. Over time, exposure to the elements can cause these materials to deteriorate. Cracks or crumbling in the blocks can compromise the structural integrity of the deck, leading to safety risks and a shortened lifespan for the deck.
Pros and Cons of Deck Blocks
While deck blocks seem to be a popular choice, it’s essential to consider the following pros and cons to make a sound decision.
The advantages of deck blocks include ease of installation, versatility, accessibility, and cost-effectiveness:
- Ease of installation: Deck blocks are relatively easy to install, requiring minimal excavation and construction expertise. They are a suitable option for homeowners who want to tackle a deck project themselves or for projects with limited time constraints.
- Versatility: Deck blocks offer versatility in terms of deck design and layout. They can accommodate various deck shapes, sizes, and configurations, allowing for flexibility in creating custom deck structures.
- Accessibility: With deck blocks, the deck surface can be built closer to the ground, making it easily accessible for people with mobility challenges or those who prefer a low-profile deck design.
- Cost-effectiveness: Deck blocks are generally more affordable compared to some alternative foundation options. They can help reduce construction expenses, making them an attractive choice for homeowners on a budget.
From frost heave to limited load-bearing capacity, there are several disadvantages of deck blocks.
- Frost heave: The Upper Midwest region experiences freezing temperatures during winter, leading to frost heave. Deck blocks, with their limited anchoring capabilities, become more susceptible to ground shifting. This makes the deck uneven, compromising its stability and potentially causing safety hazards.
- Unstable soil conditions: Deck blocks rely on the soil’s bearing capacity for stability. In areas with unpredictable soil conditions, such as expansive clay soils, deck blocks may not provide adequate support, leading to an unstable deck structure.
- Moisture and water damage: Constant exposure to moisture can deteriorate the blocks over time, causing cracks, crumbling, or erosion. This can compromise the structural integrity of the deck and require frequent maintenance or early replacement.
- Limited load-bearing capacity: Deck blocks have a limited load-bearing capacity, and larger decks or structures with heavier loads, such as hot tubs or multiple levels, may exceed their capabilities. This can result in sagging or instability, posing safety risks.
Alternative Foundation Options
- Concrete footings: Concrete footings provide excellent stability and durability for decks. They distribute the weight of the deck evenly and are a common choice for larger or more complex deck structures. However, they require more labor and time to install compared to deck blocks.
- Helical piles: These are steel shafts with helical plates that are screwed into the ground. They offer superior stability, making them suitable for decks in areas with challenging soil conditions. Professional installation is typically required for helical piles.
- Steel framing systems: Steel framing systems provide strength, durability, and resistance to shifting or settling. They offer a reliable foundation option, particularly in regions prone to soil movement or extreme weather conditions.
- Concrete piers: Concrete piers provide good stability and load-bearing capacity. In the Upper Midwest, they can be designed to extend below the frost line to prevent shifting or heaving due to frost. While the installation process may be more labor-intensive than deck blocks, concrete piers offer durability and longevity.
Consulting with professional deck companies near Twin Cities like UglyDeck helps you determine the most suitable foundation option for your deck project. We have the experience and expertise to evaluate site conditions and soil characteristics and ensure compliance with local building codes. Hence, you can expect tailored recommendations and services based on your needs and preferences.
Work With Deck Construction Experts
Deck blocks offer advantages like cost-effectiveness and flexibility but also have disadvantages like instability and a lack of long-term durability.
To ensure you pick the right foundation option and can fully enjoy your outdoor living space, partner with reliable deck companies near Twin Cities like UglyDeck. Consult with our deck construction experts today!