How To Build a Boardwalk

What You'll Need
Pressure-treated lumber for the sleepers
Pressure-treated lumber for the across pieces and headers
Lumber for the decking
Pea gravel
Spirit level
Measuring tape
Landscaping fabric
Nails for spacing
Circular saw
Galvanized exterior nails
Framing square

A simple wooden boardwalk is not a difficult thing to build nor does it have to be expensive. In its most basic form, a boardwalk is simply a series of sleepers with cross pieces of wood laid over them. There needs to be a well-drained base of gravel to ensure that rot doesn’t seep into the wood and that it is built to last. The sleepers themselves should be pressure-treated and appropriate for contact with the ground. The decking should also be pressure-treated and moisture resistant. The surface that you actually walk on should be up to 2 inches above grade.

Step 1 – Prepare Foundation

At each end of each section of the boardwalk, drive two steaks 2 feet into the ground to mark the corners. These are to indicate the edges of the boardwalk. Connect the stakes using strings and make sure that the strings are taut.

If the soil is already dry and well-drained, it is normally safe enough to place the boardwalk sleepers directly on to the ground. However, if the ground is prone to getting puddles, it is essential to build a base. To do this, dig a trench about 4 inches in depth and slightly wider than the walkway. Fill this with pea gravel or sand. This will provide a robust base upon which to install the sleepers.

Step 2 – Install Sleepers

The strings and the stakes which you have established will provide guidelines to help you install the sleepers. The sleepers are heavy duty pressure-treated pieces of timber which are rated for ground contact. Install these along the edges of the path. The sleepers need to be laid flat on the ground and the surface needs to be level. Attach the sleepers to the stakes using galvanized screws through the stakes. In locations where the sleepers come together, attach them together using cleats on the inside.

Step 3 – Install Decking

If they are not already cut to length, cut the decking boards to the appropriate length using a circular saw. Using the framing square, align these boards and place them onto the sleepers. Ensure that there is a narrow space between the boards by using spacers and nails between them. This will allow water to drain more easily.

Before fixing them in place with nails, place the boards first to determine that you are satisfied with the results so far. Align the first board using the framing square and attach it to the sleepers using heavy duty galvanized nails designed for exterior usage. To avoid splitting any boards drill out the holes using an electric drill beforehand. Attach all of the rest of the decking in the same manner and finally, you can remove the strings when you no longer need them.