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Setting Pier Blocks for a Deck

By Keith Allen ; Updated September 21, 2017

Concrete pier blocks form a floating foundation for decks. A floating foundation rests on top of the ground rather than extending below grade. Below-grade foundations provide more stability than floating foundations and are less prone to shifting due to freeze and thaw cycles each year. However, the piers are simple to install and provide adequate stability for wood decks.

Step 1

Mark the locations for the pier blocks by placing wood stakes at the corners of the planned deck. Connect the stakes with carpenter’s string to form the perimeter of the deck. Mark the locations of the piers, every 48 inches, along the strings with stakes or spray paint markers on the ground.

Step 2

Excavate the sod from each pier location. The plant material in the sod will decay under the pier, which can cause settling of the deck. Fill the excavation with gravel and pack tight with a hand tamper.

Step 3

Place the concrete piers on the gravel pads. Place a straight board between the piers and check the level with a 4-foot carpenter’s level. Roughly level the piers to within an inch or two of level by removing or adding gravel as needed below the piers.

Step 4

Set a 1-foot segment of 4-by-4-inch treated post in the recess at the top of each pier. The concrete is shaped to accept this type of lumber. These posts will serve as the supports connecting the deck to the concrete pier foundation. Attach the frame of the deck to the post at the appropriate position to produce a level deck.

 

Things You Will Need

  • Shovel
  • Gravel
  • Straight board
  • 4-foot carpenter's level

Tips

  • Set the piers in place with the top oriented to fit the deck framework.
  • The pier blocks are 6 inches high. The pier blocks can accommodate 4-by-4-inch posts or 2-inch lumber, depending on the design of the deck.

About the Author

 

Keith Allen, a 1979 graduate of Valley City State College, has worked at a variety of jobs including computer operator, medical clinic manager, radio talk show host and potato sorter. For over five years he has worked as a newspaper reporter and historic researcher. His works have appeared in regional newspapers in North Dakota and in "North Dakota Horizons" and "Cowboys and Indians" magazines.