Can you build a deck on gravel? It depends on what you mean. Yes, you can build a deck on gravel, but they still need concrete footings. Some people hope that by using gravel, they can skip the footings for the deck, but that is a bad idea. Here’s what you need to know about building a deck on a gravel foundation and incorporating proper footings.

What Happens Without Footings?

Unless your deck is very close to the ground, small, and not attached to your home, it needs footings. No matter the material you set your deck on, nor how level you make it, you will run into issues with your deck if it does not have footings to ground it.

Footings provide a solid foundation that will keep your deck level and securely in the ground as the ground shifts or as high winds buffet it. Without footings, decks can start to move become unstable, and small decks can even move or blow away in major storms.

Why Use Gravel?

Whenever you’re building a deck, you need a foundation to start with. You can keep the dirt that you have, but there are many good reasons to choose gravel instead. Those reasons include:

  • Drainage: Gravel is an excellent option to promote proper drainage beneath the deck. Gravel will help the sail below it absorb more water. This is an improvement, particularly if you have clay soil.
  • Erosion: Gravel will slow the movement of water beneath the deck, giving it more time to drain and absorb but also lowering the odds of erosion, which can help keep your deck intact for longer.
  • Weed control: Where there is gravel, there are much fewer weeds. You also won’t have the challenge of trying to mow the lawn under the deck!
  • Looks: Plain, white crushed rock is not your only option. Below, we’ll detail gravel choices you can make to enhance the look of your landscaping.
  • Storage: When you use gravel, you create space where you can store some objects that might otherwise suffer from contact with the ground.
  • Footings: Gravel can protect the integrity of your footings, especially by controlling the flow of water.

Selecting Your Gravel

When you think of gravel, you might think of plain, small, crushed rock. However, there are many kinds of aggregate and stone mixes that you can use beneath your deck to add style. If you own a rock garden, you can even match the gravel beneath your deck to your main stone types. Here are some gravel options you might consider:

  • River rocks: These smooth, almost polished rocks come in a wide range of colors and color mixes.
  • Egg rocks: Egg rocks are larger, round rocks that are less likely to catch debris like leaves and sticks.
  • Pea gravel: Pea gravel is smaller, smooth stone that is also available in a range of mixes and colors.

Professional Decks

Gravel is just one of those things that go into deck building that you might not consider. Get professional help to ensure your deck is properly installed. Our deck builders are proud to service the greater Bay Area, including Alameda, Hayward, Berkeley, Fremont, and more, so feel free to reach out for more help.