Building a deck can be a great way to add value to your home and provide a social space in your backyard. Adding this feature to your yard starts with setting a sturdy foundation. Footings help support the weight of the deck and are needed to keep your deck stable.

This step-by-step guide will show you how to build proper deck footings. 

Step 1: Check Building Codes and Gather Materials 

Be sure to check the building codes for your area before starting on this project. Many areas have regulations that state the minimum depth and width for deck footings. Freeze-thaw cycles can also affect your foundation’s stability, so you must place your deck footings below the frost line.  

You will need these materials to create your deck footings: 

  • 4-by-4 treated post
  • 50 pounds Quikrete all-purpose gravel
  • 80 pounds Quikrete 5000 Concrete Mix or Quikrete Concrete Mix
  • Carpenter’s pencil
  • Deck post hardware
  • Gloves
  • Handsaw
  • Level
  • Margin trowel
  • Measuring pail
  • Mixing tub or wheelbarrow (optional)
  • Post hole digger
  • QUIK-TUBE forms
  • Safety glasses
  • Shovel
  • Tape measure

You will also need to wear safety glasses and gloves during this project. This is because cement products can be hazardous. 

Step 2: Dig Holes for Your Deck Footings

Proper hole depth is crucial to create secure footings. In our experience, it is best to dig deck footing holes at least six inches deeper than the required depth. Digging deeper allows adequate space for the gravel, hardware, and any adjustments that you may need to make. We recommend using a post digger for more uniform holes. 

You will then add six inches of gravel to the holes. Gravel helps improve the drainage underneath your deck. Compact the gravel with a 2-by-4 or a post. This step helps prevent the footings from shifting while pouring concrete. 

Step 3: Cut and Prepare Building Forms 

Cut the building forms to a proper length using a handsaw. Cutting the forms to the exact size that you need will help prevent over- or under-filling with concrete. 

Insert the form in the hole and uncut end up. Then, level it. Proper orientation and leveling will help prevent uneven footings. 

Step 4: Fill Building Forms With Concrete and Add Hardware

Mix the concrete according to the package directions, then fill the building form halfway. Use rebar or a shovel to eliminate air pockets. This will allow you to pack the concrete fully into the form and will prevent weak spots. In our experience, it is best to fill in any remaining gaps for additional strength. 

Fill the rest of the form, and be sure to overfill it slightly. Use a rebar or shovel to redistribute and level the mix. This will help you create a smooth and even base. 

Immediately after filling the form, insert the deck hardware. Prompt insertion will prevent you from having to drill into the form later. Smooth the concrete to create an even base. 

Step 5: Allow Concrete to Cure

You will need to allow the concrete to cure before building the rest of your deck or putting any weight on the footing. This will help prevent cracking and crumbling. You will need to allow at least one day for drying if you are using Quikrete or fast-setting concrete. Standard concrete will require up to three days. 

If you have questions about any of the above steps or would like a refresher, you can also watch a video of a deck footing install here

So, Is Building Deck Footings Difficult?

Building deck footings can be challenging, especially for beginners. This project requires plenty of time, preparation, and materials. It is also best to do your research beforehand, in our experience, so that you can be sure that you are abiding by local building codes.

Be sure to take your time when installing deck footings in order to create a solid foundation for your deck. We recommend contacting professionals if you have any questions. 

Connect With Local Decking Experts
Get Estimates from Decking Professionals in Your Area

FAQs About Building Deck Footings

How deep should I place my deck footings? 

The proper depth for deck footings depends on the frost line in your area, as footings must be placed below this depth. A minimum of 12 inches is usually required, and our experienced team recommends placing your footings at least six inches deeper than what the code requires. You must check your local building codes to determine how deep to place your footings.

What is the proper spacing for deck footing?

It is best to place the deck footings six to eight feet apart. Closer spacing will provide more support.

Can you pour deck footings in freezing weather?

It is best to pour your deck footings when it is above freezing. Higher temperatures will help the concrete set faster.

What strength of concrete should I use for deck footings? 

Our experienced team recommends at least a 3,500 PSI mix with gravel to provide adequate strength and drainage for your deck. Higher-strength concrete is also recommended in colder climates as it withstands freeze-thaw cycles better. Choosing a quick-setting concrete will allow for shorter dry times and a faster build.

Editorial Contributors
avatar for Nikki Stavile

Nikki Stavile

Nikki Stavile is a writer based in Tucson, Arizona. As an avid backpacker and passionate environmentalist, her work often focuses on sustainable movements at the personal and societal level.

Learn More

photo of Jeff Zoldy

Jeff Zoldy

Jeff is a writer, editor, and marketer based in Charlotte, North Carolina. He has been editing on the Home Solutions team for over a year and is passionate about getting homeowners the information they need when they need it most. When he’s not working, Jeff can be found at baseball games, golfing, going to the gym, reading, watching movies, and playing video games.

Learn More