Ah, 1988. Rick Astley promising he’s Never Gonna Give You Up on the radio, Beetlejuice in the theaters, and Super Mario Bros. on Nintendo. And, of course, who could forget the introduction of Handi Block deck blocks? Certainly not us!
Yesterday's deck block
Introduced in 1988, instant foundation blocks were a real game changer and quickly became a favorite of professional builders and DIYers alike for building strong, stable deck and platform bases. And why not? Deck blocks like Handi Block provided an easy, lighter-weight foundation alternative to standard concrete blocks, without the need to dig holes and mix and pour concrete.
Made from a concrete alternative called Evo-Crete, Handi Blocks weighed in at “just” 18 pounds each. That still sounds heavy, doesn’t it? But to be fair, it’s a far cry from the old-style concrete deck blocks that weigh about 40 pounds apiece. In 1988 WWE terms, it’s like comparing Andre the Giant to Rowdy Roddy Piper: The weight difference was significant.
Today's deck blocks
But, as great as these lighter-weight deck blocks were, improvements were inevitable. In time, clever building product manufacturers saw the future. It wasn’t concrete or the fiber-reinforced cement-like material of Handi Blocks. It was polyolefin. And it was ultra-lightweight.
Polyolefin is a high-strength, recycled thermoplastic with an ultra-high UV rating—and a mission to support your decks, sheds, platforms and raised walkways. Popular Camo Block foundations and TuffBlock foundations both use polyolefin for its incredible strength, durability, and heat resistance.
That’s all great, but you want to know their weight, don’t you? A single TuffBlock weighs in at 1.5 pounds and a CAMO Block is just over 2 pounds. Compared to Handi Blocks, they’re roughly 90% lighter. That’s equivalent to about ten of your favorite 1988 CDs in plastic jewel cases (just in case you were wondering). Now we’re talking light.
Modern ultra-lightweight material and a slim design make these new styles of instant deck foundations easy to stack, store, and transport. To put it into perspective, you can fit 304 TuffBlocks on one pallet, versus only 64 concrete blocks. Even so, both TuffBlocks and CAMO Blocks support over 1700 pounds per block—while blending into your landscape and standing up to the elements without chipping or cracking.
What type of deck block should I use?
We’ve pulled together the vital stats so you can see how the deck block options stack up against each other. Check out our comparison of Handi Block, TuffBlock, and CAMO Block below to decide which is best suited for your next deck, shed or walkway foundation.
Spoiler alert: Camo Block and TuffBlock tick off the most boxes… by a lot.
|Handi Block||TuffBlock||CAMO Block|
|Weight||18 lbs.||1.5 lbs.||2.16 lbs.|
|No digging or pouring concrete||x||x||x|
|Block supports 1700+ lbs.||x||x||x|
|Use on uneven ground (with leveling)||x||x||x|
|Accepts||4” and 6” posts (sawing required); 2x4 and 2x6 joists||3.5” and 4” posts; 1.5"-2" joists and bearers||4” and 6” nominal posts; 2x4, 2x6 and 2x8 joists; 2" metal joists|
|Heights supported||Less than 24”||6.5” up to 39”||5.5” up to 60”|
|Can secure to post or bearer for extra stability||x|
|Does not chip or crack||x||x|
|Warranty||Unknown||25 years||30 years|
Next time you’re swept up in 1988 nostalgia and catch yourself whistling along, bobbing your head to Don’t Worry, Be Happy, be sure to give a nod of appreciation to those retro deck blocks, too. They changed things for the better in the world of deck building and were the foundation for the superior choices we have today. And that’s something to be happy about.
Choose the exceptional durability and versatility of CAMO Block foundations or TuffBlock foundations for your next raised platform or deck project. But go ahead and finish watching Die Hard one more time before you start; we’ll be waiting for you at DIY Home Center with your easy, modern deck blocks when you’re ready. Yippee-ki-yay!
Related read: Build a Floating Deck with TuffBlock