Grading For Your Terrace Will Prove a Challenging Task

by Kent Higgins

Terraces are wonderful additions to any house, functioning as outdoor style living rooms or patios in the summer, and a nice transition area between indoors and outdoors at all times of the year. Terraces can be below ground level, slightly above it or right at ground level.

The simplest type of course is the ground level terrace, we requires a simple grading process to be undertaken before the project can be set into motion. You have a choice when it comes to flooring material, the most common choice being cement, which is leveled with a large board.

You can also use flagstones by applying a load of sand or gravel on top of the subsoil and setting the flagstones into the sand or gravel. The area between the stones can be dug out and filled with topsoil, grass or some other cover. Hollow clay building tiles are used in a similar manner, by splitting them and wedging them into the ground. Another good material for a terrace floor is exposed aggregate, whose rough finish prevents the glare which is common place with other flooring types when exposed to as much sun as a terrace floor will likely be.

Another flooring possibility is through the use of redwood or cypress blocks, they these are not quite as durable as stone. You can buy them cut to predetermined sizes and lay them directly into the sand or soil. Unmortared brick laid out in a pattern over well-tamped sand is one of the easiest flooring methods available. The bricks can be laid out flat or on their ends, with an angle iron driven into their corners to prevent spreading.

A terrace which rests below ground level is aptly named a sunken terrace. These not only give you a very unique view, being as low as right at ground level while seated, but they also provide as a nice cooled down room for those hot summer days, which is their main intent, though these terraces are perhaps too cool during colder months as a result of this. After the hole is dug, the walls will need reinforcing with a retaining wall, to prevent the soil from continually eroding into the terrace. The subsoil should be dug up to a depth five or six inches below the actual level of your sunken terrace floor, and replaced with a sand or gravel base. The topsoil can consist of whatever you desire.

Finally there is the raised terrace, probably the least common terrace, as it doesn’t provide for great views of the outdoors, especially if you have a nice garden, unless you’re sitting right at the structure’s edges for a view down. A retaining wall made from materials such as landscape brick is also necessary for a raised terrace, as is a good deal of attention paid to leveling, the number one problem in raised terrace construction employed in many landscape designs. Once that process is complete the terrace itself is built much like the other two styles. Drainage from the terrace is supplied by a central drain which connects to underground piping through the retaining wall in most cases.

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