How to Build a Deck on an Uneven Grade


Building a deck on uneven grade is a little tricky because you cannot rely on the ground as a guide for how to set your support columns. Because the bottom of the joists that will support the floor of your deck need to be perfectly level, you will have to make sure each column reaches exactly the same height despite being different lengths. You could try to measure each one, but there is a better way that only requires you to use a tape measure fixed to a piece of wood and a builder's level.

Things You'll Need

  • Shovel
  • 1-by-2 lumber
  • Builder’s level
  • Measuring tape
  • Pier blocks
  • Masking tape
  • Wood saw
  • Carpenter's level
  • Place your pier blocks where they need to be to support your girders. Be sure each one is level, and dig out some of the ground underneath if it’s not.

  • Set up your builder’s level to mark the exact height of the girders. Builder’s levels use lasers and height adjustable stands to mark the exact height.

  • Hook the tape measure onto the bottom end of the 1-by-2 lumber and pull it to the top. Use masking tape to hold it in place.

  • Stand the 1-by-2 on its end on top of each pier in turn. Be sure it's perfectly level using the carpenter's level, then look at the the measuring tape mark where the builder's level is hitting. That mark shows how long the post for that pier needs to be.

Tips & Warnings

  • If the posts are all less than 4 feet long, you could consider using a long level with markings for measurements already on it, instead of the measuring tape and wood.

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  • Photo Credit deck image by Albert Lozano from
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