For a home with a first floor that is several steps above ground level, this multilevel deck can make the perfect transition between house and yard. The design features a series of steps and platforms that cascade away from the doorway to the garden below. Because the height of this deck averages 20 to 30 inches above grade, it won’t require railings in most localities, but it does use benches to help define individual areas. Check with your building code officials to make sure you design conforms to local specifications.

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Construction Notes

The deck itself is free standing, supported on concrete piers. Four by four posts rise from the piers to carry 4×8 beams, which in turn support the joists and decking. Each of the two platforms uses two beams. A fifth beam, located where the platforms meet, carries some of the weight of each section.

Steps lead off both sides of the lower platform to the ground below. Depending on the drop, a simple box step may be enough, or you can build a conventional stairway with stringers and treads. Two wide steps run the full length of the upper deck, to provide seating and leading traffic into the house. These stairs are the only part of the deck actually connected to the house. They are supported by a series of short joists, one end of which bears on the deck, the other hung from a ledger bolted to the house.

More info can be found here:

A Platform Deck With Steps

  • Mark both lines at this point.
  • Make another mark—on either of the lines—6 feet from where they cross.
  • Mark the other line 8 feet from where they cross.
  • Adjust the angle of the new line until the distance between the marks equals 12 feet-9 inches.

As you adjust the lines, make sure they continue to cross at the proper place.

  • Stretch the lines for the other beams parallel to the one you’ve just positioned.
  • Mark the ground for the footing holes, then remove the strings. Dig the holes, set the forms, and pour the footings.
  • Put the lines back on the batter boards to help locate the pier forms.
  • Pour the piers and set metal post anchors in the wet concrete.


posts: The deck’s height is set by the length of the posts.

  • Cut the posts 3 inches too long and bolt them to the piers.
  • With a transit or a water level, mark them at the proper level, using the top of the ledger as a reference.
  • Mark the tops of the posts for the upper platform 15 inches below the top of the ledger. Mark those for the lower platform 221/2 inches below the ledger.

Beams and joists: After the posts are cut, bolt the beams in place.

  • Install the joists and rim joists, starting with the lower platform and working your way up.

The benches on this deck are built in place.

  • Start by cutting the pieces to size, then bolt the 2×4 cleats to all the uprights.
  • Lay out the location of each upright on the deck. Predrill the uprights. To make sure each upright is aligned properly, square it against the edge of the deck with a framing square and then toenail it in place. Set the nails carefully for a neat appearance.
  • After the uprights are in place, plumb them.
  • Then screw the apron pieces to either side, using two screws per apron per upright.

Note: The apron runs up onto the stair at the top of the deck and can be toenailed in place.

  • Nail a line of 2x4s to the cleats along the outside edge to start forming the seat.
  • Fill in the middle of the seat with 2x2s. Use nails as spacers to maintain an even gap between the pieces.
  • You can toenail the pieces through their sides to keep the nails from showing if you want to.
  • Stagger the end joints and miter the pieces at the corners.

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