Much the same way front porches connect a house to the streetscape, decks establish a bridge between the indoors and the outdoor, natural environment. Decks add value and living area to a house by creating outdoor “rooms” that host activities from grilling to sunning, reading and entertaining, to gardening.
"Families are living outside now," says Michael Beaudry, executive vice president of the North American Deck and Railing Association in Meridian, Idaho. "There are so many wonderful things you can do, that people just want to add on."
This multi-level deck features curved overlooks and railings, planters, and transitional stairs.
Multi-level decks link a series of outdoor areas via stairs and landings. They can range from simple two-platform affairs to complex, cascading structures extending from an upper story, wrapping around part of the house, flowing down to a sloping yard, or leading to a landscaped ground-level or walk-out-basement patio. Some even have a cozy porch or four-season outdoor room tucked underneath.
Pros and Cons A multi-level deck can be a good option for a house built on a sloping lot or hill. The multiple levels or terraces provide an alternative to the standard large, uniform platform with steep stairs down to grade. Multiple levels break up the number of steps needed to reach the ground, creating smaller rooms or landings.
A multi-level deck can be designed with graceful curves or angles to blend in with the most unruly topography, and be built around landscape features like boulders and trees to become an integral part of the yard rather than the means to get there.
There are drawbacks to multi-level decks, mostly because they must be fairly large. A large deck takes up more space, requires more maintenance, and costs more to build. The trade-off can come with less lawn maintenance and landscaping.
Les Moretti, owner of Smart Choice Decks in Doylestown, Pa., says it’s not practical to consider a multi-level deck for an overall space less than 500 square feet because when you divide it up into platforms each will be too small to be useful. "Any time you’re below 500 square feet and you’re breaking it into levels, you’re taking away the functionality of it," he says.