Decks/Deck material


QUESTION: Because of the slope of our yard and a very mature king crimpson maple, we are considering building a deck pretty much on the ground.  My husband is concerned about the deck rotting because of lack of air under the deck.  How far off the ground do the boards need to be?  What product would your suggest?   I have heard that IPE will literally never rot or warp.  Is that true?  Is IPE better than a composite deck for this purpose?  Money definitely is a concern.  We would like to build a 14 X 24 rails...flat deck in place of our existing concrete patio that we just replaced due to water issues.   Please advise what product you would recommend and how far the product needs to be off the ground in order for the the material not to rot or warp. Thank you so much for your time and help. Property is in Chicago.

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ANSWER: Hello Lisa, So if I am to understand you correctly the deck will be over a patio you just replaced? In any event, what you want to use for the frame which is what will be closest to the ground needs to be pressure treated lumber. What you put on top as the decking is totally up to you IPE is expensive so is composite. The main concern with the frame is water not air, If you use material rated for ground contact it will last for a very long time. Try to get the frame off the ground even if your posts are very short, and make sure the posts are rated for ground contact. Hope this helped, I'm available anytime.

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QUESTION: The cement patio has been removed in its entirety.

My husband is just concerned that the wood will rot because their won't be much room/air between the ground and the decking material.  Based on your answer, the amount of space between the ground the decking material doesn't matter.  Is that correct?   Can you recommend what is the best type of material to use for a "ground" deck?   I think we only have a few inches between the ground the the decking material because of the slope of the yard.   

If necessary, we thought of moving it away from the house and having a floating we could elevate the deck off the ground more.   But, it doesn't sound like that is a concern....correct?

Thank you so much for your time in this matter.

Hello, yes I don't see a concern of the decking material, in order for it to rot it has to remain wet over a period of time, like when leaves are left on it all winter etc.. gravity will remove any moisture from underneath and the top if kept clean of debris will do the same. It's using material that is not rated for ground contact that actually touches the ground that is the concern. Any decking will be ok.


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Eugene Clayton


I would be happy to answer any question reguarding the construction of decks, composites verses natural materials, structure support systems,railing applications,stair design, how to figure stairs etc.. Pretty much anything that has to do with decks and or porches.


I have been in the construction industry for over 27 years including new home construction, custom deck and screen porches. Most of my expertise is from framing custom homes for over 20 years. I now own and opperate a very successful custom deck and screen porch company in Atlanta Ga.

High school graduate

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