Almost any shape, or combination of shapes, is possible when building a deck. Some decks are designed to access the ground level of your house and others are designed to access your houses second story. Decks usually look better if they incorporate multi levels or various angles. Another option is to build a structure like a pergola over the deck. Many people also like to build a deck designed to either hold a hot tub or to be built around a hot tub. Below are ideas to help you decide what deck layout is best for your home.
1st Story Decks
First story decks can either be “Platform Decks” which are very low to the ground and do not require railings or just a few feet off the ground and will require a small set of stairs. Usually the outer perimeter of the deck will be enclosed with some type of lattice.
If the deck is low (under 30″) it does not require railings but looks much better if some or all of the perimeter of the deck is highlighted. This is usually done by building benches or planters. Another option is to build another structure on top of the deck like a Pergola or gazebo.
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2nd Story Decks
2nd story decks provide outdoor access to second story of your home. Access to the deck can be through a door that was built when the house was designed or by installing a door, which is usually done by removing an existing window, if wide enough, since there is already a structural header in place and will cost less to convert to a doorway.
Many people will convert the space under the deck to a patio and will use the patio when the sun is hot and the deck when the deck is not in direct sunlight.
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Multi Level Decks
Multi level decks consist of two or more decks that are connected by either a stairway or a sloped walkway. Multi level decks are great for yards that are sloped away from the house so the deck platforms follow the contours of the land. Multi level decks are also a good choice when your homes entry door is either on the 2nd story or the first story of your house is elevated.
Multi level decks allows homeowners to take adantage of their yards microclimate. A home owner can have one deck level close to the house for entertaining, a second level under trees for shade, and another level positioned to take advantage of the sun.
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Decks With Hot Tubs
Hot tubs are a great way to enjoy your deck. Hot tubs can be placed on any style of deck, but the deck must be designed to hold the weight of the hot tub. When you are having your deck built you decide if you will ever want to place a hot tub or small kids pool on your deck so the contractor can design and build that area of your deck to hold the extreme weight so it will not harm or collapse your deck.
Another option, especially on 1st story or multi level decks is to have the hot tub sit on a concrete slab on the ground and build the deck around the hot tub. That way the weight is not on the deck and it provides much easier access to get into the hot tub.
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Decks With Pergola’s
Pergola’s built on top of a deck, especially a 1st story deck, are becoming more popular. Pergola’s make the deck seem more than just a platform and they do provide much needed shade. Pergola’s can also be used to grow vining flowers on (although this makes it very difficult to clean and stain the pergola and deck.
There are many different styles of pergola’s. They are made from either wood or vinyl and some are designed to attach to the house on one side and others are built on the outer edge of the deck and are held up with four heavy duty posts. It is best to build the pergola when the deck is designed and built so that the posts holding up the pergola can be put in the ground just like the deck support posts. This will keep the pergola from adding weight on your deck and will keep it from moving in high winds.