Here in the Austin area, we have a lot of homes built on yards with steep drop-offs. These lots make a perfect setting for a lower level playroom or walkout basement. But what do we do when our main living area is a second story in the back and we want to build a deck? What are the logistics of a 2nd story deck? Is it that much more expensive? You might be surprised to find out the answer to this question is no.
Multi-level decks come in many shapes and sizes. The levels can be split levels like a split level house or multiple levels for the various floors of your home. The benefit of multi-level decks and patios is the opportunity for various living spaces. Think of it like the rooms of your house. It’s always nice to have your own room to sit and read your book or for the kids to do homework or even to watch TV. These days we mount quite a few televisions on the dry walls of covered decks and patios. So, the different sections allow different “rooms” for outdoor living.
I want to feature a 2-story deck in Steiner Ranch that we did earlier this year. One of the first things we ask the homeowners when we’re discussing a project with them is “how do you want to live outside”? Many times homeowners have an idea of the structure they want but it might not really accommodate the way they want to live outside. Or, there may be other reasons that a different structure or different elements make more sense for that family.
With this family, they had young children. They wanted the children to have a “play area” that was in addition to an adult sitting area. Based on the fact that the house was 3-stories, this made sense to have a 2-level deck. They wanted to be able to close off the step area to the young children at the top level. So we had a gate built into the top of the staircase.
As it relates to the 2-story staircase, the homeowners wanted to be able to go from deck to deck on the outside of the home so they wanted a stairway connecting each of the 2 decks. Because of the large windows very close to the deck area, a traditional 2-story staircase would have caused tremendous obstruction through those windows. So, we had a local artisan build a custom spiral staircase.
Spiral staircases are not a one-size-fits-all. Every application is different because the heights of the two stories vary so widely. But, because the staircase was custom built, we were able to build in the gate. This is also a nice feature for homeowners with pets who want to keep the pets in a secure area.
Because the back of this home is Western facing, the family wanted some sun protection on the second level The hidden benefit of 2-story decks is the built-in sun protection on the first story. A pergola is a great way to get sun protection but not to block the sun altogether. It’s wonderful on an early fall or spring day to feel the heat of the sun. It’s great to see the sun’s rays filter through the slats of a covered pergola with this sort of tight slat design.
When thinking of materials, you want to think about the following things:
- What look are you going for?
- What sort of stain resistance do you want or need
- How long do you want your deck to last?
A good place to start is to think of the look you are going for. Do you want a rugged rough-cut look? Do you have fond memories of cedar decks from growing up and know you want cedar? Do you want a clean and very consistent look? Are you looking for a custom color of the wood? Cedar is a traditional favorite for it’s rough and familiar look. But, even more popular are the pressure-treated woods because of how long they last and because of their stain resistance.
For this deck, we used Fiberon IPE color composite decking. This decking has a 20-yr fade and stain resistant warranty which is unique to this decking. There are other composites that are customers like including TimberTech and AZEK.
Brazilian hardwoods are also very big right now. One that’s really hot right now in Austin is Tigerwood. Like the IPE color of Fiberon, each board has a little bit of a different color giving it a very unique and even a little bit of an exotic look.
In terms of how long you want your deck to last, there are so many factors including anything from excessive rain to dog and furniture scratches to sun and more. If you need protection from all the natural and furry elements in your life, your best bet is to go with a composite wood such as IPE or Fiberon.
Give us a ring to discuss your next project. Each of our customers gets a free consultation. We look forward to discussing your project ideas with you.
(512) 259 – 8282