Building a deck can be a fun and rewarding project, but it's important to choose the right type of foundation. Two popular options for deck foundations are deck blocks or in-ground posts. Both options have their own unique benefits and drawbacks, and the right choice will depend on the specific project and the desired look and functionality.
In this blog post, we will outline 13 benefits that TuffBlock has over concrete deck blocks, as well as benefits that floating decks have over in-ground posts.
- Save time
- Easier to transport
- Reduce injury & back strain
- No need for a chisel
- Fewer tools required
- Achieve ultra-low decks without digging
- Avoid water wicking into lumber
- Save money
- Avoid risk of hitting underground services
- Build on the fly
- Environmentally friendly
- Easier to store
- Avoid damaging tree roots
1. Save time
Building a floating deck can be faster than building a deck with in-ground concrete posts because the process of digging post holes and pouring concrete can be time-consuming. A floating deck is built on top of a flat surface, such as a patio or lawn, and is not anchored into the ground. This means that the construction process does not require digging or pouring concrete, which can save time. Additionally, using deck blocks means you can complete an entire project in a single day as you don’t have to wait for concrete to cure (which can take multiple days).
2. Easier to transport
TuffBlocks are extremely easy to transport as they’re both stackable and lightweight. They take up minimal room in your vehicle or trailer, and with minimal weight added.
Because they’re so convenient to carry with you, many contractors keep TuffBlocks on hand from site to site.
3. Reduce injury and back strain
TuffBlocks are 27x lighter than concrete blocks which greatly reduces the strain on your back. Because they’re lightweight and stackable, you can carry a large number of TuffBlocks in one trip onto site, whereas carrying dozens of concrete blocks requires a lot more effort.
Over time this increases the risk of a back injury. Lifting heavy objects repeatedly or improperly can put a lot of stress on the muscles, ligaments, and tendons in the back, which can lead to strains, sprains, and other types of injuries. It can also cause wear and tear on the spine, leading to conditions such as herniated discs or degenerative disc disease.
If for example you’re using 24 deck blocks, it would require 2 trips carrying TuffBlock with minimal effort and weigh only 36 lbs, whereas concrete blocks would require 12 to 24 trips (depending if you carry 2 at a time) and weigh a total of 996lbs. All that extra weight adds up over time.
4. No need for a chisel or saw
Concrete blocks typically require a chisel to create a slot for your post to sit upright. TuffBlocks have two post slots precisely designed to fit 3.5 and 4 inch posts with the need for a chisel.
Below is a video showing the old method of fitting lumber to your deck blocks. With TuffBlock the highly engineered and smart design means no alterations are needed.
5. Fewer tools & materials required
Creating in ground concrete posts requires more tools. This includes concrete mix, a concrete mixer, wheelbarrow, a hoe, a trowel, a forming tube and stirrup.
For sites that have limited side access this can mean overcoming the need to transport concrete mix in tricky or cumbersome sites.
6. Achieve ultra-low decks
TuffBlocks finally allow for ultra low floating decks with the base sitting only 2 inches from the ground. This is extremely useful when building over and existing slab or pavers where digging isn’t an option.
An example of where this might come in handy is matching the height of the deck to an existing doorway.
Additionally by not having to dig, you can achieve a low profile deck that removes any step up and mimics a patio. Typically a concrete block would add 6 inches in height in addition to the framing lumber and deck boards. TuffBlock removes any need for digging and is 4 inches low in profile giving you more options for your deck, and eliminating labor.
7. Avoid water wicking into lumber
Concrete can absorb water and become saturated, whereas as TuffBlock is made from plastic it doesn’t absorb water.
Concrete is porous, which means that water can permeate through the surface and into the concrete. If the concrete is not sealed or if the sealant is damaged, water can continue to penetrate the surface and reach the reinforcement steel inside, causing rust and weakening the structure. Additionally, if the water is not able to drain away, it can cause freezing and thawing cycles that can cause cracking, pitting, and other forms of damage.
Also, if the water is able to reach the reinforcement steel, it can cause rust and weakening the structure, which can lead to the concrete's failure over time.
Therefore, it is important to properly seal and maintain concrete surfaces to prevent water from penetrating and causing damage.
TuffBlock avoids any of these risks and due to it’s ventilation and raised surface, it prevents the build up of moisture.
8. Save money
It can be cheaper to build a floating deck compared to a deck built with in-ground concrete posts, as the materials and labor costs for building a floating deck are typically less.
A floating deck is built on top of a flat surface, such as a patio or lawn, and is not anchored into the ground. This means that the construction process does not require digging postholes, pouring concrete, and curing time. This can save on materials and labor costs.
However, the overall cost will depend on various factors such as the size of the deck, the materials used, the location and the cost of labor in the area.
9. Avoid risk of hitting underground services
It is important to check for the location of underground services before starting any excavation work to avoid hitting them and causing damage or injury.
Before starting any excavation work, it is important to call your local utility companies to have them mark the location of any underground services such as water, gas, electric and telecommunication lines. This service is typically free and it will ensure that you are aware of the location of these lines and avoid any potential accidents or damage.
It's also important to consult with local authorities and ensure you comply with any local building codes and regulations before digging.
If you have any doubt and if you're not sure where the lines are, it's best to hire a professional to locate and mark the underground services.
Alternatively, when using deck blocks it eliminates this risk entirely (which can be very costly to repair).
10. Build ‘on the fly’
Deck blocks allow you to make amendments and change your plan as you build. Building with in ground concrete on the other hand requires you to have a precise plan before commencing your build.
This gives some builders peace of mind knowing they can make adjustments as they build.
For a complex project such as Sam’s walkway (below), using TuffBlock allowed him to build quickly and with confidence knowing he could adjust the deck block placement. The sub-structure of the curved walkway was very complex and if he was using in ground concrete posts, it would have required substantially more planning to execute, even for an experienced builder such as Sam.
11. Environmentally friendly
This is a benefit for mother earth but one we think is worth noting. TuffBlocks are made from 100% recycle plastics, many of which are single use plastics (such as soda bottles) that are destined for landfill.
When plastics are recycled, they are collected, cleaned, and processed into raw materials that can be used to make new products such as TuffBlock. This reduces the need to extract and process new raw materials, which can have a lower environmental impact. Additionally, recycling plastics can also reduce the energy needed to produce new plastic products, as it requires less energy to recycle existing plastic than to produce new plastic from raw materials.
On the other hand concrete can negatively affect the environment in several ways:
Carbon emissions: The production of cement, which is a key ingredient in concrete, is a major source of carbon dioxide emissions. Cement production accounts for around 5% of global CO2 emissions.
Resource consumption: The production of concrete requires large amounts of water and energy. Additionally, the extraction of raw materials such as limestone and sand can lead to habitat destruction and soil erosion.
Waste generation: The disposal of concrete waste can lead to a buildup of materials in landfills, which can take up valuable space and release methane, a potent greenhouse gas, as it decomposes.
Transportation: The transportation of concrete can also lead to emissions and air pollution.
12. Easier to store & deliver
We’ve covered this benefit previously, but it’s worth noting again that TuffBlocks can be stored in your home or vehicle without taking up vast amounts of space. Unlike concrete blocks they’re easy to deliver to any desired location and store, which makes ordering them from your local supplier much easier than concrete blocks.
13. Avoid damaging tree roots
Digging holes near trees can damage the roots, which can harm or even kill the tree. By using deck blocks you avoid this risk entirely and maintain the surrounding vegetation on your building site. The roots of a tree are the tree's lifeline, providing the tree with water, nutrients, and stability. Cutting or damaging roots can disrupt this process and cause the tree to become stressed and weakened.
The critical root zone (CRZ) is an area around a tree where the roots are particularly sensitive to damage. The size of the CRZ can vary depending on the species of tree, but it typically extends out to the drip line of the tree's canopy, and below the surface for about the same distance as the tree is tall. This means that digging holes within the CRZ can be particularly damaging to the tree.
If you need to dig near a tree, it's important to locate the tree's CRZ and take steps to protect the tree's roots. This can include hand digging or using a small hand-held auger instead of a large machine, and also consulting with an arborist before starting any digging.
There are many benefits to using TuffBlock deck blocks, but ultimately every project is different and it's up to you to decide if it's suitable for your needs.
Floating decks are becoming more popular as a building method because they are relatively easy to construct, do not require a building permit in some areas, and do not require the excavation and foundation work that is needed for a traditional deck.
As an alternative to concrete deck blocks we feel that there are several benefits that TuffBlock provides such as ease of use, time saving and versatility with ultra low decks.
But there is always a place for traditional in-ground concrete posts, especially when extending a deck from an existing structure like a home. Please check with your local building codes and assess which method works for you.