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Tips on How to Design and Frame a Multilevel Deck

Are you are entertainer? Is your summer filled with meals and family time in the backyard? In order to create the most relaxing retreat on your property it's best to design a multilevel deck. This type of deck design includes two or three layers that are interconnected and laid out for optimum traffic flow. But designing and building this a multilevel deck requires a high level of skill.

The Design Stage

You'll need a good strategy to put together the design for this deck. Plan out where the traffic will move and what type of furniture will be set out on each level. Many outdoor entertainers place their grill and food preparation surfaces on the top level (closest to the patio door), leaving the lower level for the patio dining set. There may even be room for a third level (higher or lower than the others, depending on the grade) for a lounge chair, hammock or gazebo.

The most important element of the design is actually the support. You need to be sure there is adequate room for the framing of all levels and space enough to include the proper posts or piers for each level. Essentially, each layer of the multilevel deck could be a standalone platform - they are only connected at the stairs or railing.

Think about how stairs can be used to facilitate the flow of traffic. Wide stairs that cross the entire seam between levels will maintain an opening feeling, while deep stairs can act as almost a level of their own (and provide room for extra seating in a pinch). Railings are also used to effectively connect the levels on a visual and a practical stage. Continue the same style of railing across multiple levels for consistency and try to minimize the visual break of high rails. Tempered glass railings work well in this case and serve an additional purpose as a windbreak.

The Framing Stage

Designing and constructing the framing for multilevel decks can be tricky. Sketch out each level as an individual deck and set posts accordingly. If you are tying the deck to the house, each level that is attached will require its own ledger board.

Even one rise up or down means that beams and joists cannot be shared. In certain cases the levels may overlap at the stair, but this is not the norm. Posts are another structural element that cannot be shared, although if the piers are large enough they may be able to hold more than one post saddle.

The framing for each level should have been accounted for in the design stage. You may need to dig in any framing that is at the ground, since 2x6 is the smallest dimensional lumber recommended for deck framing. Install the posts in the same way for each level and excavate the area were an ultra low level will sit. When treated lumber is used that area can be backfilled with soil after the framing has been installed.

Multilevel decks are very popular for all lifestyles. Whether you are an entertainer or simply want to have various outdoor rooms in your backyard, this style of deck requires a good design and specific framing. Be sure the installation is done well to provide the proper support for this spacious deck.

Posted by: diana
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