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Floating vs. Fixed Decks: Choosing the Right Foundation for Your Outdoor Space

Overview shot of a Deck Construction by Dexksos at 154 Lincoln Rd

When planning your new deck, one of the first decisions to make is choosing between a floating deck and a fixed deck. Understanding the differences, benefits, and considerations for each can help you make an informed decision for your outdoor living space. This article will guide you through the essentials of floating and fixed decks, ensuring you choose the right foundation for your home improvement project.

What is a Floating Deck?

A floating deck, also known as a freestanding deck, is not attached to any existing structure. It rests on deck blocks or concrete blocks and is ideal for ground-level installations. This type of deck is particularly popular among DIY enthusiasts because it typically requires no building permit and involves less complicated construction methods.

Benefits of Floating Decks

  • Ease of Installation: Floating decks are simpler to build compared to traditional decks. Since they do not require digging deep footings or attaching to the house, the construction process is more straightforward.
  • Flexibility: You can place a floating deck almost anywhere in your yard, allowing you to optimize your landscaping and lawn care routines. They are great for areas where the ground is uneven or for creating separate outdoor living spaces.
  • Cost-Effective: Floating decks usually require fewer materials and less labor, making them a budget-friendly option for homeowners.
  • Minimal Disruption: Building a floating deck causes less disruption to your existing yard and landscaping, as it requires minimal excavation and site preparation.

ipe wood
A successful floating deck project constructed by Dexksos in Lincoln, MA

Materials for Floating Decks

When constructing a floating deck, choosing the right materials is crucial for durability and aesthetics. Common materials include:

  • Wood: Pressure-treated lumber is a popular choice due to its affordability and resistance to rot and insects. Cedar and redwood are also excellent options for their natural beauty and durability.
  • Composite Decking: Composite deck boards are made from a mix of wood fibers and plastic. They offer the look of wood with added benefits of low maintenance and high durability.
  • PVC Decking: Made entirely from plastic, PVC decking is highly resistant to moisture, stains, and fading, making it a long-lasting option for outdoor spaces.

Ideal Uses for Floating Decks

Floating decks are perfect for various purposes in your outdoor space:

  • Garden Seating Areas: Create a cozy spot in your garden for relaxation or entertaining guests.
  • Pool or Spa Surrounds: A floating deck can provide a stylish and functional area around a pool or hot tub.
  • Temporary Structures: If you want a seasonal deck that you can easily disassemble, a floating deck is an ideal choice.

What is a Fixed Deck?

A fixed deck, also known as an attached deck, is anchored to an existing structure, typically your house. It is built on footings or concrete piers that extend below the frost line, providing a sturdy and permanent foundation. Fixed decks are suitable for elevated installations and more complex designs, such as those that incorporate pergolas or multi-level structures.

Benefits of Fixed Decks

  • Durability: Fixed decks offer superior stability and durability, making them ideal for long-term use. They can support more weight and complex structures compared to floating decks.
  • Integration: Since they are attached to your home, fixed decks can seamlessly extend your indoor living space outdoors, enhancing the overall flow and functionality of your home.
  • Versatility: Fixed decks can be customized to various heights and designs, making them suitable for a wide range of applications, from simple patios to elaborate outdoor entertainment areas.
  • Increased Property Value: A well-constructed fixed deck can enhance the aesthetic appeal and functionality of your home, potentially increasing its market value.

22 Flintlock fall finish overview from yard
Expertly crafted fixed deck by Dexksos in Lexington, MA

Materials for Fixed Decks

The materials used for fixed decks must be robust enough to support the structure and withstand outdoor elements. Common materials include:

  • Pressure-Treated Lumber: This is a cost-effective and durable option for the structural components such as joists and beams.
  • Hardwoods: Woods like cedar, redwood, and tropical hardwoods are prized for their natural resistance to decay and pests.
  • Composite Decking: Like floating decks, composite materials are popular for fixed decks due to their low maintenance and long-lasting nature.
  • Metal Framing: For added durability and stability, especially in areas with high moisture or termites, metal framing can be used.

Ideal Uses for Fixed Decks

Fixed decks are suitable for various purposes:

  • Outdoor Dining Areas: Extend your kitchen or dining room with an elegant outdoor dining space.
  • Entertainment Spaces: Create a perfect spot for hosting parties or family gatherings with additional features like outdoor kitchens or fire pits.
  • Elevated Views: Take advantage of scenic views by building an elevated deck attached to your home.

FeatureFloating DeckFixed Deck
FoundationDeck blocks or concrete blocksFootings or concrete piers
AttachmentFreestandingAttached to house
InstallationEasier, suitable for DIYMore complex, may require a builder
CostGenerally lowerGenerally higher
FlexibilityHigh, can be placed anywhereLimited to attachment points
DurabilityGood, may shift over timeExcellent, very stable
HeightBest for ground levelSuitable for elevated designs
PermitOften not requiredTypically required

Choosing the Right Deck for Your Needs

When deciding between a floating deck and a fixed deck, consider the following factors:

  • Purpose: What do you plan to use the deck for? A simple lounging area or a complex entertainment space?
  • Budget: How much are you willing to spend on materials and labor?
  • DIY vs. Professional Installation: Are you planning to build the deck yourself, or will you hire a professional deck builder?
  • Landscaping and Lawn Care: How will the deck impact your existing lawn care routines, such as mowing and walk-behind mower usage?

front porch built by Dexksos

Additional Tips

  • Ensure your deck is built with high-quality materials like composite decking for long-lasting performance and minimal maintenance.
  • Regular maintenance, such as cleaning and sealing, will extend the life of your deck and keep it looking great.
  • Consider integrating features like a pergola or outdoor kitchen to enhance your deck’s functionality and aesthetic appeal.


Whether you choose a floating deck or a fixed deck, each option offers unique benefits tailored to different needs and preferences. For a straightforward and cost-effective solution, a floating deck might be your best bet. However, if you seek a durable, versatile, and integrated outdoor space, a fixed deck is likely the way to go.

For expert advice and professional deck installation, contact Dexksos today. Our experienced team is ready to help you create the perfect deck for your outdoor living space. Reach out today to get started on your new deck project.

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