FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Browse our Frequently Asked Questions that have been categorised to help you find your answer quicker!
Planning is key. BuildTuff strongly suggests you make your own inquiries through appropriate bodies and professionals before any work is carried out.
Some questions you may need to address are:
- Is the site going to need protection from wood boring insects?
- Has the deck got potential for water pooling or constant exposure to water?
- Is there a need to install drainage due to potential soil erosion?
- Are there any trees growing near the project whose roots could upset foundations or branches create a hazard?
- Are you building on solid ground (Eg. not reactive soil)?
- Will you need electricity, gas, water, or other services for your project in the foreseeable future?
- Are there any height considerations (Eg. Fencing, balustrade, and handrail needed to comply with codes)?
- Do you need an engineer to specify and detail construction drawings and methodology?
- Are there fire regulations I need to follow?
Yes, simply level the ground under each TuffBlock. Then level the structure above using extension posts supported by the pocket of the TuffBlock below. Refer to the installation guide for more detail.
Yes. Use them on concrete, soil, gravel and everything in between so long as it meets the “stable ground” criteria. TuffBlocks can be used on any substrate which would be an acceptable base for concrete-in-ground footings. If the ground is not compact, just clear away a few layers until you find compact earth.
The TuffBlock product is based on the floating foundation system, designed to ensure the structure is able to move slightly if the ground was to move. This is what makes the floating foundation system so safe. The structure is able to move slightly and independently of other structures as natural ground movement occurs. The TuffBlock construction method therefore avoids stresses that would otherwise see an extension from an existing structure fail. The system was originally designed for regions where the annual freezing and thawing of the ground meant that either: 1) the ground was too hard to dig, or 2) with the constant shrinking, expansion, and movement of the ground many fixed structures failed due to inability to cope with the movement they sustained.
This is exactly where the floating foundation system was developed for areas in the north (USA) where freeze and thaw ground movement is a major issue for traditional "dig a hole and pour concrete" structures. So TuffBlock is a perfect solution for their application.
Yes, you can use TuffBlocks in high wind areas (cyclones, hurricanes, storms etc), but we recommend checking in with your local building authority (local council) first. Some TuffBlock users choose to use the intermediary solution in high wind areas, which means they use TuffBlocks in combination with concrete in ground footings to tie their project down.
TuffBlocks should be installed on a stable, undisturbed grade surface, with well-draining sub grade material. If your soil is constantly wet and gets flooded, you would need to ensure that you prepare the ground by introducing drainage which can be done via gravel or additional drainage to remove the flooding. If the ground is particularly unstable, we would recommend increasing the number of TuffBlocks supporting your structure.
No. TuffBlocks should be installed on stable, compact earth. If you consider that a TuffBlock construction has similar or greater downward surface area than a standard concrete-in-ground footing, then sinking will not be an issue. The Floating Foundation System has been a tried and trusted building system in North America since the late 1980's with literally tens of millions of decks and other structures built using this system. Ground sinking is absolutely something that needs to be considered, however this is also the case for a traditional "dig a hole and pour concrete" installation. So if your ground is particularly unstable, you need to consider this regardless of what installation method you choose. The great thing about TuffBlock is that it's far simpler to install more TuffBlocks than it is to dig deeper, wider and more holes and fill them with more concrete. In fact, the floating foundation system was developed for grounds that were heavily affected by freeze and thaw. If your ground is particularly unstable the floating foundation dystem such as TuffBlock is a far better solution as it keeps the structure independent from any surrounding fixed structure allowing it to move and settle independently. Furthermore you can very easily install far more TuffBlocks to greatly increase the amount of support for the structure.
TuffBlock is an ultra-light weight and versatile footing made from 100% recycled materials. TuffBlock is the world’s fastest-growing foundation method for a range of home improvement projects, including raised or low-profile decks, walkways, cubby houses, and much more. TuffBlock removes the need for digging holes and pouring concrete, making it the easiest and most versatile foundation system on the market.
TuffBlocks are made of high-strength closed-loop recycled polyolefin (plastic) with an ultra-high UV rating. The great thing about this is that TuffBlocks are designed to last decades, which means they can be recycled again in the future.
TuffBlocks can be used for a number of outdoor projects. Whatever you do, make sure to use your TuffBlocks on level and compact ground. The TuffBlocks will be the foundation of your build. Build ideas include decks (low profile, raised and floating decks), garden sheds, landings, pathways, raised walkways, cubby houses, dog shelters and more.
UV stabilisers have been included in the manufacturing process which means TuffBlock is manufactured to the highest standard of any plastic product for outdoor use. That’s why we back it with a 25 year warranty.
It is completely dependent on the project but we recommend using our TuffBlock Calculator found on our product page.
As a general rule, if you are supporting joists directly on TuffBlocks on the span, you will need to support joists with a TuffBlock at 5' (1.5m) intervals. Joists will need to be spaced at a distance appropriate to the finishing material (e.g. it is recommended that some decking lumber (wood) be spaced at 16" (40cm) centers, it is always best to check with your lumber/material supplier for material-specific recommendations).
As an example, a low-level deck 10 x 10 feet (3 x 3m) would require 21 TuffBlocks for the above configuration – that is 3 x TuffBlocks per 10-foot joist (3m), 7 x joists spaced 16" (40cm) apart.
If you intend on using bearers on top of TuffBlocks, joists on top of bearers, and then decking or finishing material/sheeting – less TuffBlocks will be required. As an example, a low level 10 x 10 feet (3 x 3m) deck would require bearers to be supported every 5' (1.5m), bearers would be spaced every 5' (1.5m) to support the joists, so 3 x TuffBlocks per bearer. 3 x bearers = 9 x TuffBlocks. The above measurements are a basic guide only.
Please refer to the TuffBlock installation guide and your material supplier to ensure correct spacing is maintained for structural integrity.
Despite being manufactured from plastic, TuffBlocks are eco-friendly. This is because they are created from pre-existing plastic such as those retrieved from the ocean and are not contributing to the production of any virgin plastic.
By utilising this kind of plastic, the plastic that would typically be left to landfill is being repurposed.
TuffBlock accepts 3.5 x 3.5" (90 x 90mm) or 4 x 4" posts (100 x 100mm).
TuffBlock accepts 1½ - 2" (35 - 41mm or 41 - 47mm) joists & bearers
You can buy TuffBlocks right here on our website.All orders come with free ground shipping.
OR purchase via our other retailers: Online: TuffBlock is available to order online at Amazon USA / Amazon Canada / Lowes. Canada in-store: To purchase TuffBlock in-store, please use the Store Finder to search for your local store.
Generally the post/joist/bearers sit in the TuffBlock without requiring any fixing. If fixing is required, fix the block to the timber. As for the post staying upright; this is a function of the deck build itself. Your structures should be adequately designed and reinforced to ensure the posts are structurally sound and cross-braced.
There are a few suggestions with anchoring - although TuffBlocks are created to be 'floating' some customers have used dynabolts to pin down the blocks in some circumstances.
We would suggest anchoring down the entire structure with a single point in the middle or at each corner to avoid tampering with the blocks themselves. Some methods include concreting down steel chain into a hole or you can use earth anchors which you can hammer down into the ground.
No. As TuffBlocks support the structure well above the soil line and the blocks themselves wick moisture away from the lumber, there is no reason for the lumber to rot or for termites to attack the posts.
Each TuffBlock is incredibly strong, with its vertical load designed so that an individual TuffBlock can support 1,700lbs (770kg). TuffBlock's have also been break tested to 11,000lbs (5,000kg).
TuffBlocks have been engineered to be stackable and only weigh 1.5lbs (680g) each, compared to that of a traditional concrete deck block that weighs 41.5lb (18kg) each!
Yes. Especially when you consider the time and effort taken to dig multiple holes and then mix the concrete to fill them back in, not to mention the cost of buying the steel post supports and bags of concrete in the first place. Generally a steel post support and two bags of concrete will set you back around $24-30 USD. Even if you use a few more TuffBlocks, you are still well ahead of the old conventional footing method.
Deck blocks were introduced over 30 years ago in the USA and since then, instant foundation blocks have been embraced worldwide for creating strong and stable foundations for both professional and DIY enthusiasts. TuffBlock's are an extremely popular alternative to digging holes, carrying heavy concrete blocks, mixing concrete and waiting for it to set. TuffBlock's are a versatile utility block and the options are endless for how you can use them to make completing your projects a breeze.
The floating foundation system has been a tried and trusted building system in North America since the late 1980s with literally tens of millions of decks being built using the system. In fact, the floating foundation system was developed for grounds that were heavily affected by freeze and thaw. If your grounds are particularly unstable, a floating foundation system such as TuffBlock is possibly a far better solution for you to use. It also keeps your structure independent from any surrounding fixed structure, allowing it to move and settle independently.
You may need approval depending on size, structure, height and your local county or authority laws and regulations. Contact your local county to confirm requirements, regulations and permitted sizes. These vary by region. If in a fire prone area, you may need to factor in specific requirements to meet regulations.
You may need approval depending on size, structure, and height. Your local county or authority may also have certain building rules and regulations. Contact your local county to confirm requirements, regulations, and permitted sizes. If in a fire-prone area, you may need to factor in specific requirements to meet regulations. As building guidelines change from shire to shire, we always recommend checking your local guidelines before commencing construction, we always suggest you get the thumbs up before starting your project. Unfortunately, there is no single “golden rule” answer. That being said, most countries have an exemption for structures that are less than a certain size (Eg.108 ft (33m)). Therefore, if your structure or deck area is less than specified, you may not need to seek any approvals.
- Utilise dense timbers in the construction of both sub-floor and decking boards. The following timber species have been tested and found to meet the required parameters without having to be subjected to fire-retardant treatment: Blackbutt, Merbau, Red Ironbark, River Red Gum, Silvertop Ash, Spotted Gum, and Turpentine. Composite materials are also available with a BAL up to 40.
- Make sure that gaps between each board measures between 0 - 5mm. Any more may result in vulnerability to ember attack.
- Enclose the subfloor of the area using mesh or bushfire resisting timbers
- Remove leaves and twigs from the roof and gutters.
- Utilise noncombustible decorative stones and more fire-resistant plant species as landscaping around the structure. Avoid flammable shrubs like eucalypts and media like woodchips as these just become fuel for a fire
- Keep your verandah well maintained by sealing timber with a non-combustible seal. - Fill in small gaps around the deck structure where an ember might be able to lodge
- larger openings can be fitted with ember guards (such as perforated mesh with 2mm openings).
- Contact your local fire authority for more information
TuffBlocks have been engineered for structures up to 36" (90cm) above ground. Having said this, many people have built structures higher than this using the composite foundation method (TuffBlocks in combination with concrete-in-ground footings). We recommend that you consult with a qualified builder or engineer regarding your project.
Ventilation still needs to be considered,
It is apparent that a deck will obtain ventilation beneath if a crossflow of air is achieved, but note that airflow is also achieved when it passes beneath the deck and out through the gaps between boards. Although there are no fixed ventilation requirements for floating decks, it remains the responsibility of those designing and installing the deck to ensure there is sufficient ventilation and appropriate conditions maintained beneath the deck for it to perform to an industry acceptable level.
Hence, as the degree of expansion relates to board width, recommendations are that board width should not exceed 90 mm with decks that are close to the ground or more enclosed.
With regard to board spacing a wider gap between boards is also necessary, as with some swelling of the boards during extended rain periods, a reasonable gap must always be maintained. For this reason, recommendations are that boards are spaced at least to provide a 5mm gap as opposed to the usual 3mm.
- We offer free ground shipping for all orders over $100 to anywhere in Canada.
- For orders under $100, there is a flat rate of $14.90 per order.
- Please allow 5-10 business days for delivery throughout Canada. Some deliveries within the Greater Toronto Area can arrive the next day although there is no guarantee.
Your tracking number will be automatically emailed to you when the order is dispatched. This is generally between 1 to 3 days after you have placed your order.
Some carriers, such as Canpar, deliver multi-piece shipments separately. Please allow a day or so to account for this. We unfortunately have no control over items not arriving together, but hang in there, your items will arrive.
If your first item has arrived and you still don't have all your items after two weeks from the date of order, please contact our team and we will help you out and ensure you get everything you purchased.
Bulk orders are excluded from free shipping. Due to the fact that the products are being shipped in bulk, shipping costs stay relatively low.
*Please contact us directly if you are interested in ordering in pallet quantities*
TuffBlock won't chip, crack, corrode or grow mould like traditional concrete blocks. We are so confident in the TuffBlock, we give you a 25-year manufacturer's warranty from the date of purchase.
Step 1 - Is this a warranty claim?
Evaluate the validity of your warranty claim. If this is a postage issue, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. The more info on a warranty claim, the better, so feel free to include your responses to these questions in your email to us:
- Was your product purchased within the last 30 days?
- Does the damage to your product appear to be due to manufacturing defects?
- Does the damage appear to be due to the delivery/shipping process?
- Was the box damaged, tampered or opened in any way on arrival?
- Was the damage caused by abuse, neglect or improper use?
- Was it purchased from TuffBlock website or from a reseller of BuildTuff products?
Step 2 - Submit warranty claim with photo & video evidence
Submit your warranty claim to email@example.com with the following:
- A clear description of how the damage occurred and the date when BuildTuff damage occurred.
- It is essential in your claim that you include 2 to 5 photos and/or a video of the damaged product from various angles and distances. The clearer you can showcase your warranty claim, the less likely we will require you to send the products back in to us for inspection as we can generally deduce from clear photos and videos whether it's a successful or unsuccessful claim. This saves you time and money in having to pay shipping charges to send your products in for inspection.
- Please remember to include all your contact details such as first and last name, email address, contact phone number, address and order number.
- If the damage is not clear from your video or photo evidence, you will have to ship your products to TuffBlock; located in Cambridge, ON for inspection.
- Customers are responsible for all shipping charges to and from TuffBlock regarding warranty issues.
The TuffBlock is a low profile, durable instant foundation system. TuffBlocks enable a deck to be constructed quickly, safely and efficiently. They are recyclable and have been load tested to over 11,000 lbs with a maximum working load of 1,700 lbs. TuffBlocks weigh up to 28 times less than comparable concrete blocks and come complete with a 25 year manufacturer-backed limited warranty. The TuffBlock instant foundation system offers a broad footprint and is perfect for both low profile and raised decks.
- Inspect each TuffBlock for splits, cracks, dents or any other damage that may impair its function. Damaged TuffBlocks must not be used and should be returned to the point of purchase.
- Transport and store all TuffBlocks in a secure manner out of direct sunlight.
- Protect TuffBlocks from exposure to solvents, adhesives, stains and cleaning products.
It is recommended that the installer have a minimum of two years construction experience, be familiar with building terminology, local construction codes and be in suitable physical shape.
- All work must comply with the TuffBlock installation procedures.
- All decks must not exceed the load capacity of the TuffBlock foundation system.
- TuffBlocks must only be used for pedestrian traffic.
- Heavy features such as planters, bench seats, large tables, water features and other static load items in excess of 45 kgs (100lbs) must be directly supported by at least one additional TuffBlock for every 90 kgs (200lbs). Additional TuffBlocks must be placed directly under the point of load with additional TuffBlocks evenly spaced up to the next regular TuffBlock location.
- Static features over 225 kgs (500lbs) that are directly supported by legs are not advised and considered unacceptable.
- Features that create vibration must be placed on vibration dampening pads. Excessive vibration that is transmitted to the TuffBlocks is considered unacceptable.
- The decking surface static load must be calculated first to ensure adequate spacing and allocation of TuffBlocks. Refer to product guidelines for material weights.
- The substrate below the TuffBlocks must provide positive drainage.
- If placing TuffBlocks over a roofing substrate or water membrane refer to local building codes and material guidelines before proceeding with installation. It is recommended to securely attach the TuffBlocks to the substrate when not building on terra firma.
- TuffBlocks may only be installed on surfaces with a minimum of 40psi bearing capacity.
- When placed on terra firma any substrate on which the TuffBlocks are to be placed must be adequately compacted with positive drainage.
- Deck height must be in accordance and not exceed that of state, local or any other applicable building codes and regulations.
- It is recommended that TuffBlocks are not installed in areas that experience heavy snow or below freezing temperatures.
- Ensure the substrate or terra firma is level, compact and has positive drainage. Load testing to 40psi is recommended on all substrates. Loose, unstable or reactive soils should be tested for capacity to carry the required dead and live loads anticipated.
- The supporting surface below the TuffBlocks should be clean and free of all debris, protrusions and other matter that may interfere with the position of the TuffBlock.
- Accurately establish all lines, levels and layout before proceeding with any groundwork. Check plans for correct dimensions, elevations and final deck height.
- Plan the location of the TuffBlocks according to the installation flyer or website and place extra TuffBlocks under dead loads or areas of high traffic as directed.
- Regularly inspect during installation for any movement, rocking, level changes or irregularities.
- Use of shims should be avoided and instead TuffBlocks should be levelled through raising the supporting section of substrate or terra firma below the TuffBlock. Ideally a solid material should be used to raise the natural height of the terra firma such as a concrete blend mix or other suitable material. Alternatively one may use the post method for levelling the deck on uneven surfaces. Use of shims will void the TuffBlock warranty due to point loading.
- For installations in high wind or flooding-prone areas the deck should be tied down through ground anchors or other suitable methods.
- TuffBlocks should not be installed on waterlogged soil or immediately after periods of heavy rain.
- TuffBlocks must not be used in a stacked configuration.
- An engineering compliance certificate or other relevant compliance inspection should be undertaken and issued before usage.
- TuffBlocks should be protected from exposure to full sun.
- No cleaning products, stains, paint or chemicals should be applied to the TuffBlocks.
- Decks should be regularly checked for any rocking, settling or shifts. TuffBlocks will need to be readjusted if any change to the deck is noticed.
- During regular deck maintenance TuffBlocks should be checked for level footing, full ground contact, secure attachment to the joist or paver as well as any damage.
- The TuffBlock system is warranted for a period of 25 years from the date of purchase from manufacturing defects only. Warranties are non-transferable. The warranty does not cover costs and expenses with respect to the removal of defective TuffBlocks or the installation of replacement materials, including labour and freight. The TuffBlock system is not liable for special, incidental or consequential damages. Upon confirmation that a defect has occurred and falls under the TuffBlock warranty a new replacement TuffBlock will be provided free of charge. To make a claim, proof of purchase and evidence of fault (photos, videos and/or faulty TuffBlock) must be presented. A copy of the engineering compliance certificate (or other relevant compliance notice) complete with date, stamp and authorised signature must also be presented. All warranties are at the full discretion of TuffBlock.
- The warranty applies to normal, non-abusive use and does not cover any abnormal damage or functional impairment. The TuffBlock warranty does not warrant against:
1. Spalling or other breakages caused by impacts, abrasions or over stressing of the TuffBlock at any temperature.
2. Improper installation.
3. Installation in areas exposed to beyond normal or recommended use. Extended service life and applications not recommended by this guideline and/or local building code, standards, and normal work procedures will also not be covered.
4. Excessive movement, settling, distortion or collapse of the substrate or terra firma supporting the TuffBlock system
5. Impacts and damage by the process of snow or ice removal.
6. Damage from natural disasters or extreme weather events.
7. Use in temperatures outside the recommended static load operating range of -4 degrees Fahrenheit to 131 degrees Fahrenheit. It is recommended that TuffBlocks be installed in above freezing temperatures, if installed in below freezing temperatures avoid all dynamic loads and physical impacts to the product.
8. UV stabilisers have been included in the manufacturing process which means TuffBlock is manufactured to the highest standard of any plastic product for use outdoors. However, like any plastic product we recommend that TuffBlock is not installed where it is exposed to direct sunlight as this will reduce its service life below 25 years.
If for whatever reason you're not happy with your purchase, you may request a full refund on the purchase price within 30 days.
STILL HAVE A QUESTION?
Please note: TuffBlock.ca offers this information as a general guide only. You should rely only on relevant building codes and standard industry established construction methods in any construction project.