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The Advantages and Disadvantages of Floating Decks vs. Traditional Decks

As the sun begins to show its face more frequently, many turn their attention towards revamping their outdoor spaces. Perhaps you have a project in mind involving the allure of a floating deck or the tried-and-true traditional deck for your property? The idea may be overwhelming, but this blog post will guide you through the nitty-gritty of each option. Warner's Decking of Naperville can bring whatever deck idea you have to life. Stick with us as we scrutinize and lay bare the strengths and weaknesses of both floating decks and traditional decks in an ever-evolving homeowner’s landscape. Prepare to be surprised by the information you thought you knew about decking options, as we unveil secrets that could dramatically impact your final decision!


Floating decks are not attached to any building or structure while traditional decks require support from a ledger attached to a house or another structure. Floating decks can be placed anywhere on your property and are typically supported by deck blocks. This provides them with a degree of flexibility when it comes to location. They tend to be simpler and faster to install, require fewer materials like lumber, and need fewer tools. However, they may have limitations on weight capacity and are not advisable for areas with high winds. Traditional decks are more secure but may require more time for installation and cost more due to additional materials needed to attach them to structures. They both come with their pros and cons.


Comparing Floating Decks and Traditional Decks

When considering the construction of a deck, it's important to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of different types. Both floating decks and traditional decks have their own unique qualities that may influence your decision. Warner's Decking of Naperville can provide you with the information you need to make the right decision.

Let's start with floating decks, also known as freestanding decks. As the name suggests, these decks are not attached to any building or structure, giving them the impression of floating a few inches off the ground. They can be supported by small footings or concrete blocks, making them more versatile in terms of placement. One significant advantage of floating decks is that they do not require ledgers for stability nor extensive amount of lumber, allowing you to place them anywhere except next to a house or another structure.

Floating Deck
Floating deck

On the other hand, we have traditional decks, which are built directly onto a house or structure. These decks are attached using ledger boards, providing stability and structural support. Traditional decks typically require permits and adherence to specific building codes since they are an extension of the main structure. While this process may involve more red tape and planning, it offers the benefit of being securely attached to your home, which can increase its value.

Traditional Deck
Traditional Deck

When it comes to installation, floating decks tend to have the upper hand. The tools needed for a floating deck project are typically fewer than those required for a traditional deck. Since they are not connected to a house, there are fewer regulations and permits involved in their construction. This simplicity translates into shorter installation times and potentially lower costs compared to traditional deck installations. Additionally, floating decks prove beneficial for homeowners who wish to preserve mature trees in their yard since these structures do not disturb tree roots like traditional decks might.

In contrast, traditional decks generally require meticulous planning and compliance with building codes. This involves obtaining the necessary permits, ensuring proper attachment to the house, and meeting safety requirements. While this process may be more complex than constructing a floating deck, it offers greater stability due to its connection with the main structure. Despite the greater effort, the end result might be worth it when considering the long-term benefits to your property.

Now that we have compared floating decks and traditional decks, let's delve into an overview of different deck types you might consider for your outdoor space. We'll cover the base reasons you might choose each type, offering tips and information on everything from materials to whether or not you'll need a building permit.


Deck Types Overview

1. Wood Decks: Wood is a classic material choice for decks due to its natural beauty and versatility. It can be a perfect platform for admiring all the wonderful plants in your garden. The wood decking can be stained or painted to match your desired aesthetic and offers durability if properly maintained. However, wood decks do require regular maintenance such as staining or sealing to protect against rot, warping, and insect damage.

2. Composite Decks: Composite decking materials are made from a combination of wood fibers and recycled plastics. They offer the appeal of wood aesthetics without the intensive maintenance requirements. Composite decks are highly durable, resistant to fading, scratching, and staining. While initially more expensive than wood decks, they often prove cost-effective in the long run due to their longevity. Especially in the case of dealing with contractors, this route might be advantageous.

3. PVC Decks: PVC (polyvinyl chloride) decking is a synthetic decking material known for its low maintenance requirements and resistance to moisture damage, rotting, and insect infestation. It provides excellent durability and longevity but can be pricier compared to other decking options.

4. Metal Decks: Metal decks, commonly made from aluminum or steel, are known for their strength and durability. They offer a sleek and modern aesthetic while being resistant to moisture damage and insect infestation. Metal decks may have a higher upfront cost but can provide long-lasting performance.

5. Concrete Patios: While not technically considered a deck, concrete patios are worth mentioning as an outdoor flooring option. They offer durability and versatility in terms of design possibilities. Concrete patios can be stamped, stained or textured to mimic a variety of materials such as brick, stone, or wood. A building permit might be required for this kind of installation.

When it comes to the installation process, floating decks and traditional decks differ in their approach. Let's take a closer look at how each type is installed.


Installation Process

Floating Decks: One of the major advantages of floating decks is their simplified installation process. Since they are not attached to any building or structure, they can be placed anywhere in your outdoor space, provided they are not adjacent to a house or another structure. This freedom allows for more creative possibilities in terms of deck placement, such as a secluded corner in your garden, surrounded by beautifully blooming plants.

The first step in installing a floating deck is preparing the ground by leveling it and removing any vegetation or debris. Then, small footings or concrete blocks are used to support the deck, giving it the appearance of floating just a few inches above the ground. These footings or blocks are strategically placed along the perimeter of the deck to provide stability. Next, beams are installed on top of these supports, followed by joists that run perpendicular to the beams. Finally, decking boards are added to complete the deck surface.

Traditional Decks: In contrast, traditional decks are attached to a building or structure using ledger boards, which provide stability and structural support. The installation process starts with securing the ledger board to the exterior wall of the house using lag bolts or through-bolts. Once the ledger board is in place, concrete footings are dug and poured at regular intervals along the perimeter where posts will be placed. Hiring a licensed contractor for this kind of installation is usually recommended.

The posts are then anchored into these footings using brackets or embedded post anchors, securing the primary structure of your future living space. Comfortably installed joists run parallel to the ledger board, firmly affixed using trusty joist hangers. Finally, decking boards are fastened, almost as if someone is weaving them, to the joists to create an inviting deck surface.

Comparing the installation process of floating decks and traditional decks is like measuring two different ways of building on solid ground versus building an extension onto an existing structure. Both methods require careful planning and keen attention to details during execution, but their approaches differ based on the desired outcome and structural requirements.

Now that we know how floating decks and traditional decks are installed, let's explore the advantages and disadvantages of each type with the same due diligence.

Both floating decks and traditional decks offer unique advantages and drawbacks. Let's carefully examine them to help you make the most informed decision for your outdoor living space.


Advantages and Disadvantages of Each Deck

Floating Decks Advantages:
  • Flexibility in placement: Floating decks can be placed anywhere in your outdoor area, allowing you to take advantage of unique spaces or avoid specific obstacles.

  • Simpler installation: Since floating decks don't require attachment to a building, their installation process is generally faster and more straightforward.

  • Lower costs: With fewer supports and accessories needed, floating decks tend to be more cost-effective compared to traditional decks.

  • Protecting mature trees: By not disturbing the roots, floating decks provide a way to enjoy outdoor spaces without harming existing trees.

disadvantage
  • Potential lack of stability: Floating decks may not be as stable as traditional decks since they rely on smaller footings or blocks instead of direct attachment to a structure.

  • Limited height options: Due to their design, floating decks are typically closer to the ground, which may not be desirable if you prefer elevated views.

Traditional decks
Advantages:
  • Higher stability: Traditional decks are attached directly to a building, providing greater stability and resistance to movement or shifting.

  • Elevated height options: If you desire an elevated deck for better views or access, a traditional deck offers that versatility.

Disadvantages:
  • More complex installation: Traditional deck installation involves attaching ledger boards, pouring concrete footings, and using brackets or anchors for posts, making it a more involved process compared to floating decks.

  • Permit requirements: Depending on local building codes, traditional decks may require permits and inspections, adding time and potential costs to the installation process.

When it comes to considering the cost and maintenance aspects of floating decks versus traditional decks, there are several factors to take into account. From the nitty-gritty money matters to the services needed for perfect upkeep, let's begin by examining the cost implications of each option.


Cost and Maintenance

Traditional decks typically involve more labor-intensive installation processes, such as burrowing and pouring solid, reliable concrete footings. This additional work can increase both the materials required and the overall cost of construction. Additionally, traditional decks may require regular maintenance services, including staining or sealing, to protect against weather damage and ensure longevity. These ongoing maintenance tasks can add up in terms of both time and expense.

In contrast, floating decks often provide an economic comfort zone. Since they are not attached to a permanent structure like a house, they require fewer materials and less labor to construct, ensuring you save money where possible. The absence of footings eliminates the need for extensive excavation work, further reducing costs. Moreover, floating decks are generally easier to maintain compared to traditional decks. With regular cleaning and occasional resealing or painting, you can ensure their durability without significant ongoing expenses.

Maintenance considerations also extend beyond just monetary aspects. Both types of decks require some level of upkeep to prolong their lifespan and keep them safe for use. However, traditional decks may demand more attention due to their attachment to the house and exposure to moisture and other elements. If not properly maintained, traditional decks could be susceptible to rotting, warping, or splitting over time. On the other hand, floating decks, when constructed with suitable materials and well-maintained surfaces, can withstand environmental factors impressively well.

It's important to note that while floating decks may appear more cost-effective initially, ongoing maintenance requirements should also be considered when determining the long-term affordability of either option.

Let's now shift our focus towards another critical aspect that often plays a significant role in the decision-making process: aesthetics and practicality considerations.

Choosing the right one when it comes to the aesthetics and practicality of your deck, both floating decks and traditional decks present distinct advantages and considerations. You might even consider the job of deck creation as a project that mirrors the quality and experience needed in home installations or repairs.

  • According to a 2022 landscaping report, nearly 35% of homeowners who installed a deck opted for a floating deck due to its easier installation process.

  • A construction industry survey found that floating decks require about 20-30% fewer materials compared to traditional decks, potentially reducing costs considerably.

  • The National Association of Landscape Professionals reports that floating decks have surged in popularity over the past five years, with a 60% increase in installations since 2017.

Aesthetics and Practicality Considerations

Let's start with aesthetics. Traditional decks, being attached to the house, can seamlessly blend with the existing architecture and design elements. They can enhance the overall visual appeal of your home and potentially increase its value. Furthermore, traditional decks offer opportunities for various customizations and design choices, such as built-in seating or multi-level platforms. This allows you to create a personalized outdoor space that suits your taste in a high-quality manner, with the right company handling the job.

On the other hand, floating decks as a result of an experienced company's job can also provide a visually appealing addition to your outdoor area. Their standalone nature allows for more creative freedom in terms of placement and design. You can choose to position a floating deck in a way that maximizes scenic views or makes use of unique landscape features. Additionally, floating decks are versatile and can be easily relocated if desired, offering flexibility in adapting your outdoor space to changing needs or preferences.

Moving on to practicality, both types of decks offer their own advantages. Traditional decks provide a stable and solid structure that can support heavy loads, suitable for those kick-back barbecue evenings or a quality time with family. They are also typically situated at a height that aligns with the interior floor level, providing convenient access to outdoor spaces from the house.

Floating decks, although typically smaller in size due to being freestanding, can still serve as functional areas for relaxation or entertainment. Their lower height from the ground, a result of quality repairs and installations, makes them easily accessible for individuals with mobility challenges or young children. Furthermore, since they are not attached to the house, floating decks can be placed in locations where it may be impractical or impossible to install a traditional deck.

Ultimately, choosing between aesthetics and practicality will depend on your specific preferences and requirements for your outdoor space. A deck job can be entrusted to a company with extensive decking experience.

When it comes to building a deck, safety is of paramount importance. Both floating decks and traditional decks have their own set of safety considerations that homeowners should be aware of. Craftsmanship and quality should always be top-priority in order to ensure a reliable structure.

  • When considering a deck for your outdoor space, both traditional and floating decks have their own unique advantages. Traditional decks offer customization options that can enhance the overall aesthetic appeal of your home and support heavy loads. Floating decks provide more creative freedom in design and can be conveniently relocated, as well as being easily accessible for individuals with mobility challenges or young children. Ultimately, the decision between aesthetics and practicality will depend on your specific preferences and needs for your outdoor space.



Safety Aspects of Decks

In the case of traditional decks, they are typically attached to the house or structure, relying on ledger boards for stability. This attachment can provide a strong connection between the deck and the building, but it also means that any issues with the attachment or ledger board can compromise the structural integrity of the entire deck. It is crucial to ensure that ledger boards are properly installed and securely attached to avoid any potential hazards, a task that should be handled by a company with vast experience in such repairs.

Floating decks are not attached to any existing structure and rely on small footings or concrete blocks for support. While this design gives the illusion of floating a few inches off the ground, it is important to ensure that these supports are solidly placed and provide enough stability for the deck. Regular inspections and maintenance of these supports are necessary to prevent settling or shifting, which may lead to an unstable deck. Hiring the right company can make a world of difference in ensuring high quality and durable deck construction.

Floating decks, on the other hand, are not attached to any existing structure and rely on small footings or concrete blocks for support. While this design gives the illusion of floating a few inches off the ground, it is important to ensure that these supports are solidly placed and provide enough stability for the deck. Regular inspections and maintenance of these supports are necessary to prevent settling or shifting, which may lead to an unstable deck.

Another essential safety aspect for both types of decks is ensuring proper weight distribution and load capacity. Understanding the weight limits imposed on your deck by local building codes is crucial to avoid overloading and potential collapse. This includes considering not only furniture and people but also factors like snow accumulation in colder climates.

To prevent accidents from slips and falls, it is crucial to choose decking materials with adequate slip resistance. Traditional wood decking may require regular maintenance such as sealing or staining to retain its slip resistance over time. Composite decking materials often come with built-in textures or coatings designed to enhance traction.

Proper railing height and spacing are also important factors in deck safety. Building codes typically mandate specific requirements for railing heights, baluster spacing, and other safety features. Homeowners must adhere to these regulations to ensure that their deck provides adequate protection against falls. For example, let's say you decide to build a floating deck in your backyard that will serve as an entertainment space. You choose to use pressure-treated wood for the decking and opt for a composite railing system. It's essential to carefully follow the manufacturer's instructions for installation to ensure that the deck is structurally sound and meets safety standards.

While both floating decks and traditional decks can be designed and built with safety in mind, it is important for homeowners to be aware. Warner's Decking of Naperville can help guide and install this whole process for you just give us a call for a free quote.

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