Should My Deck Be Level With My Home?

Becca Stokes
Written by Becca Stokes
Updated June 10, 2021
composite deck residential backyard
© Woodys Photos/ Getty Images

Your deck should never be built at the same level as your home itself in order to protect the foundation and other components from moisture and rot

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A patio or a deck can totally transform the entire vibe of the place that you call home. If you’re new to the world of indoor space meeting outdoor space, you’re going to have a lot of questions before building your deck. One of the biggest: Should my deck be level with my home? 

In a nutshell, the easy answer is this—no, your deck should never be level with your home. That’s because of the threat most feared by even the bravest DIYers and homeowners: water damage. 

If your deck or patio sits at the same height as your home, you’re making it easy for water to get inside and wreak havoc. We’re not just talking about puddles in your entryway, either. This constant exposure to water will eat away at foundations, rot door frames, and make wooden deck maintenance even trickier.

The Parts of Your Deck and How They Work

Every deck is made up of several different components including bridging, decking, railings, and supports. However, we’re going to spend our time here talking about the parts of the deck that are the most affected when you build your deck level with your home.

The Flashing

Deck flashing is critical when it comes to making sure you keep unwanted moisture (in other words, all moisture) away from your home and its foundation. Flashing connects your deck to your home while redirecting water away from it. Flashing is sold in rolls or sheets and can be made up of several different materials like copper, steel, or vinyl—the most affordable of those options.

The Ledger

Deck ledger or deck ledger flashing is the lid to your flashing. It sits over the point where the flashing sheets meet the house. The deck itself is actually connected to the house by the ledger flashing. Should this become loose due to wet boards separating, safety can be an issue, along with the threat of water damage.

The Joists

Moving away from the house itself and into the deck, we have the deck joists. These long, central, perpendicular beams are most commonly made of wood. They also serve as the main supports of your deck. When rot begins at the deck flashing, it is only a matter of time until it spreads to the joists, which is a serious problem for your deck and costly to repair.

The Deck Boards

The deck boards are the pieces that make up the surface of your deck—aka the slats you boogie on when your favorite song comes on at the barbecue. Many people opt to install a solid deck and lining the boards flush against each other to create a uniform surface. Others go for a slatted board look, which is the better option if you’re looking to be super vigilant about moisture. The slatted boards make it easier for water to leave your deck on those rainy days. 

Decks and patios by their very nature are more exposed to the elements than most of the other parts of your home. That is why decks are typically dropped 1/8'' per foot. To be too level with the home could lead to extensive water damage.

While a beautifully installed deck or patio can be an expensive project ranging between $15 and $30 per square foot, there’s no doubt that it can also add value to your property and joy to your life. Just make sure you get that slope right to make sure your happy home is also a dry one.

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