Building a Multilevel Deck

Decks are a perfect area for outdoor entertaining and outdoor relaxing. The style of deck you choose to build determines how you use your deck, as well as how you build it. Although similar in appearance, different decks can require different construction techniques.

Out Installation Services Associates built this Multilevel deck and documented the steps taken in order to help you build your own outdoor living area.


1. Siding was removed and ledger boards attached to the house. The ledger boards establish the upper-deck level that will be 28 feet long by 15 feet wide. This upper level fits into an inner corner of the house. Batterboards and mason's string lines were used to locate footing positions for both levels of the deck.

Approximate time for a novice (with a helper) to lay out footing locations for this deck: 15-17 hours, which includes removing siding and attaching the ledger.


2. Thirteen 12-inch-diameter footing holes were dug. Each hole is 48 inches deep to get below the local frost line. The bottoms of the holes didn't need flaring, but tube forms were required. Concrete was delivered by truck and pumped through a hose to each footing location. Post anchors for 6x6 posts were attached to the footings after the concrete cured for 48 hours. Large footings and posts allowed for the fewest number possible for a multilevel deck of this size.


3. 6x6 POSTS were installed and temporarily braced in position. A water level was used to establish post heights for each level. Posts were then trimmed at the correct height. Beams made from doubled 2x12s will sit on the posts. Joists will be cantilevered over beams on both deck levels. The lower deck level is 28 feet by 16 feet.


4. Beams were built in place and attached to the post tops with adjustable post caps. The long beams were made longer than required and will be trimmed flush with the rim joists after the joists are installed. The short beam supports the upper-deck level joists that attach at the patio door bay. The bay framing isn't strong enough to anchor a standard ledger board. Beams were covered with self-sealing membrane for extra moisture protection.


5. A ledger for the lower-deck level was attached to the posts beneath the middle beam. The ledger sits in notches cut in the posts. Then a 2x12 header joist and rim joists were installed for both deck levels. Forty-five degree corners were made on the lower level where stairs to ground level will be built. Beam ends were trimmed flush with the rim joists. The inner 2x12 joists were attached with blocking in the middle of the joist spans on both levels.


6. 5/4x6 decking was installed perpendicular to the joists on the upper level. Decking was installed at opposite diagonals on the lower level. Deck screws were used to fasten the decking. The different decking patterns provide visual texture and separate the two levels. A double joist was installed at the center of the lower level to properly support the decking.



7. Locations were established for 8-inch-diameter footings at the bottom ends of the stairs. One side of each stair run rests on a preexisting concrete slab. Only one additional footing was necessary for each stair run. Stair runs were calculated and stringers made, and the stairs were built. Each stair run ends on a low-level deck platform. A simple box stair connects the two deck levels. The levels could be farther apart and connected by longer stair runs.

Approximate time (not including the low-level platforms)


8. Railing post locations were calculated and the posts installed. Posts were notched and attached to the outside of the perimeter framing and the stringers. Coated metal tubes are used as balusters for this railing.



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