Laying small deck on gravel

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  • #6162
    Mike Cushing

    Hi everyone. I have a small area that is currently covered by individual wood “decking panels” – a bit like paving stones, but made from wood and designed to sort of look like decking. They’re a bit untidy, so I’d like to replace them with proper decking. The area in question is bascially a small “bed” between the house wall and a small garden wall – it’s around 12″ high (from the main garden) so a small step up to get on to it at the moment. My question is all to do with “am I OK to lay the frame directly into the gravel (I’d prepare channels for the frame and joists sit in) or should I raise the frame? I’d really prefer to do it the first way – the ground is a decent (say 50 / 60mm) level of gravel on top of hardcore so well drained, plus I’d rather not have a raised edge to the deck, simply as it adds to the height to access the deck from the main garden.

    But, embedding it in the gravel raises issues around building the frame – what I mean is, if I built it raised above the gravel, I can easily screw the joists into the frame. Not as easy if the frame is to be “sunk” in the gravel so that the deck boards are on a level with the small garden wall mentioned earlier. I could, I’m sure, build the frame “off site” and drop it into place.

    I understand that the risks of speeding up the “rotting” process are higher if the frame sits on the ground rather than raised above, but, as I say, the drainage is already good due to the mix of gravel and hardcore that is the current base. Obviously, I’d lay weed fabric for either solution.

    I also want to integrate a small number of decking lights into the deck but don’t think it matters if the frame is raised or on the ground.

    Thanks for any replies, really appreciate them.

    Decking Network

    Hi Mike,

    Laying the decking directly onto gravel is not really a sensible approach as the frame will want to expand and contract (like all timber does) which will make the whole section move. It may also warp and rise off the ground in one or more corners as there is nothing to tie it to the ground. Correctly structured decking platform does not touch the ground, neither do the beams nor the joists… even with the best intensions in the world if you want a structure that will last then you should really commission a designer or take a look here

    This is a basic advice page on how to create decking structure… We can advise but only so far.

    What decking brand are you considering using?

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