Deck Design Demands Deliberation
June 21, 2013 10:53 AM   Subscribe

Details: I am making a low deck/platform to sit inside a screen tent. This is to be a fun summer sleeping tent for my daughter and her friends. Some moderately challenging requirements inside...

I'm fairly competent at designing and building, but this one could use some hive mind deliberation:

I want to build a seasonal 10' x 12' platform that will be enclosed by a 10' x 12' screen tent for the summer. I'd like to remove the platform (as easily as possible) at the end of the summer, store and reassemble (as easily as possible) next summer. The idea is to provide a better surface than the dirt/mud/earth that will be below this floorless tent.
  • Factor 1: I have approximately 24 - 2"x6"x8' boards that I got for free. Can be used in any manner -- support structure, or as decking.
  • Factor 2: I'd prefer not to spend much on additional wood... $100 or so.
  • Factor 3: Would be nice to not have to put in a ton of screws or bolts (ie. like a regular deck).
  • Factor 4: It does not have to be super sturdy.
  • Factor 5: Ground slopes a little, but a cinder block might be enough to square it all up.
Bonus Points: This is for 14 year-old girls. Any awesome-izing features merit extra kudos.

So... not looking for a complete design, but perhaps some of you brilliant builders have some thoughts... ?
posted by ecorrocio to Home & Garden (8 answers total)
I've built a couple removable "decks" like this. Instead of framing it out with the free lumber you have, save that to use as the decking material and for the "frame" source some free-to-you hardwood pallets. Your deck can then be modular and movable when you're all done. If you have an air compressor, grab a cheap brad nailer from a place like Harbor Freight and avoid screws completely. You should be able to build it in a day or two. You could even put some heavy casters on the bottom for easier movement when you want to store it later. Let the girls pick out rad paint colors and have them stripe the deck in a fun pattern.
posted by Bohemia Mountain at 11:06 AM on June 21, 2013

You could just use shipping pallets pretty much as-is. A lot of pallets have board-width spacing between the slats, so you'd need to fill those spaces in (possibly with lumber scavenged from extra pallets. You may also be able to get pallets made new with full coverage on top, and that would still be pretty cheap.

Pallets are 40"x48", so I believe you'd need 9 pallets to cover 10'x12'
posted by adamrice at 11:13 AM on June 21, 2013

Quick sanity check: is the lumber you have pressure treated? If so you may want to reconsider using it as a tent platform for kids, especially with the tent enclosing the area above it.
posted by Aizkolari at 11:28 AM on June 21, 2013

Regarding pressure-treated wood: I wouldn't be overly concerned about it unless it's old.

Treated wood used to be treated with a solution of copper and arsenic, which was extremely poisonous. Even then, copious testing could only determine that any serious danger came from cutting it and the sawdust it produced. Rodale Institute even found it satisfactory for organic garden beds after YEARS of testing.

Nowadays, arsenic isn't part of the mix. Copper amine and copper quat are the mixtures now, and they are MUCH less toxic. If your wood is pressure treated and you have concerns, just treat it with an oil-based stain. That's enough to stop any leaching.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 1:39 PM on June 21, 2013

Aizkolari: Good thought. I'm pretty sure this is plain ol' wood. Pressure treated has a look to it doesn't it? Usually kinda greenish and really hard, right?

Thanks for the answers. I know this is overthinking it, but I'm pondering the idea of making a support frame with half lap joints - kind of a big puzzle I can assemble, throw some wood panels on top of and call it good. Perhaps a series of 4' x 5' squares that can be attached to one another...

It'll only take me 4 weeks. Maybe I'd better keep it simple.
posted by ecorrocio at 2:07 PM on June 21, 2013

Add screening under the boards otherwise all those little biting bugs will come up from below and make the girls miserable.
posted by saradarlin at 10:33 AM on June 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

Thanks saradarlin. Fortunately we're in Colorado and relatively devoid of bitey bugs.
posted by ecorrocio at 4:33 PM on June 23, 2013

Went with six 4x4 framed squares, and three 2x4 rectangles, bolted together and topped with panels and fake grass carpet, screen tent in top (or that's what it will be soon). Thanks all.
posted by ecorrocio at 4:38 PM on June 23, 2013

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