What’s the Best Way to Design a Multi-Level Deck for Entertaining?

March 31, 2024

Nothing defines your outdoor space like a beautifully designed multi-level deck. These platforms offer the ideal space for dining, lounging, and entertaining. Whether you’re grilling in the backyard kitchen, hosting a dinner party in the open-air dining space, or simply relaxing in the outdoor living area, these decks provide a perfect setting. But how can you transform your standard deck into a multi-level masterpiece? You are about to discover some of the best practices and ideas for designing such a deck.

Understanding Multi-Level Decks

Before we delve into the design and installation process of multi-level decks, let’s first understand what these structures are. A multi-level deck consists of two or more decks at different heights, connected by stairs. They can accomplish a variety of purposes, including enhancing the aesthetic appeal of your outdoor space, providing additional room for different activities, and making the steep slopes of your backyard more usable.

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The beauty of multi-level decks comes from their flexibility in design. Depending on the layout of your outdoor space, you can choose from a tiered deck, a cascading deck, a freestanding deck, or a wraparound deck.

Materials form an essential part of the design process. The decks can be constructed using a variety of materials, including wood and composite. Wood offers a natural and classic look but requires regular maintenance. On the other hand, composite decking materials are more durable and resistant to rot and insects.

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Designing with Purpose

Before you get carried away with the creative aspects of deck design, it’s essential to consider the function of each level. This way, you’ll ensure that your deck not only looks fantastic but is also practical.

Your deck could be a space for outdoor cooking, dining, and entertainment. Hence, consider designing one level to accommodate your outdoor kitchen with barbecue, pizza oven, and prep surfaces. Another level could host the dining area with a large table and chairs, while a separate level could be dedicated to lounging and entertainment with comfortable sofas, a fire pit, or a hot tub.

Remember, each level should flow easily to the next. The stairs connecting the levels should be conveniently placed, safe, and easy to navigate even when carrying meals or drinks from one level to another.

Balancing Aesthetics and Practicality

Decks are not just about function; they’re also about design and aesthetics. The right design can add visual interest, character, and sophistication to your backyard.

Wooden decks bring a warm, natural look, while composite decks offer a modern appeal. You can also mix and match materials for a unique look. For example, a wooden deck with a composite railing or a composite deck with glass railings can create interesting contrasts.

Lighting is another critical element in deck design. A well-lit deck is not only safer but also more inviting. Consider incorporating lighting into the stairs, the deck floor, and the surrounding landscape. You can choose from a variety of lighting options, such as recessed lights, post cap lights, or solar deck lights.

Installing Your Multi-Level Deck

Building a multi-level deck is a complex task that requires careful planning, a solid design, and expert craftsmanship. You must consider numerous factors, including the slope of your land, local building codes, and safety standards.

Most homeowners choose to hire professionals for the installation, but if you’re a hands-on person with the necessary skills, you could undertake the project yourself. However, always remember that the structural integrity of your deck is paramount. It must be strong, stable, and safe.

Deck Design Ideas to Inspire You

Here are a few ideas to inspire your deck design:

  1. Rustic Retreat: Create a rustic look with a wood deck, complete with a pergola and an outdoor fireplace. Add cozy seating and warm lighting for a space that invites relaxation and conversation.

  2. Modern Oasis: For a sleek, modern vibe, opt for a composite deck in a dark color. Add a glass railing for an unobstructed view, and complete the look with modern outdoor furniture and strategic lighting.

  3. Beachy Vibe: Bring the beach to your backyard with a light-colored wood deck. Add a hammock, sun loungers, and tropical plants to create a vacation-like atmosphere.

Remember, your deck is an extension of your home. Therefore, ensure it complements your home’s architecture and reflects your personal style and taste. With careful planning, creative design, and professional installation, you can build a multi-level deck that is not only beautiful but also functional, enhancing your outdoor living experience.

Considering the Deck Builder and Deck Framing

Choosing the right deck builder is a crucial step in achieving your desired multi-level deck. Although DIY route could be an option, a professional builder ensures the task is completed efficiently and securely, keeping in mind the minute details such as correct measurements, appropriate materials, and proper deck framing.

When selecting a deck builder, consider their experience level, portfolio, and customer reviews. It is also important to inquire about their familiarity with local building codes and their commitment to safety standards. Remember, the goal is to have a well-constructed deck that adheres to the rules and regulations while serving your outdoor living needs.

Deck framing is another essential aspect of building a level deck. A strong foundation is paramount to ensure the deck can withstand weight and weather elements. For the deck framing, you could opt for pressure-treated lumber, which is resistant to rot and insects. Alternatively, steel or aluminum frames could be used for their durability and strength. Regardless of the material used, the framing should provide robust support for the decking materials and ensure the structural integrity of the multi-tiered deck.

Deck Elements; Hot Tubs, Fire Pits, Box Steps, and Pressure-Treated Wood

Consider incorporating features like hot tubs or fire pits into your deck design. These not only add an element of luxury but also create a friendly and warm atmosphere, perfect for entertaining.

A hot tub can be a relaxing spot, especially when it overlooks a beautiful view. It can be incorporated on its own level, creating an exclusive spa-like area. Meanwhile, a fire pit can be a focal point, perfect for gathering around during cooler nights. Ensure that these features are well-integrated into your deck design and comply with safety regulations.

Remember to factor in the box steps while designing a multi-tiered deck. These broad, flat steps are practical, especially when navigating the deck with food or drinks. They also add a unique architectural element to your outdoor space and can double as additional seating during outdoor gatherings.

Finally, pay attention to the decking materials you choose. Pressure-treated wood is a popular choice due to its affordability and durability. It is resistant to rot and insects, making it an ideal choice for areas with harsh weather conditions. However, regular maintenance is required to keep it looking its best.


Designing a multi-level deck can seem like a daunting task, but with careful planning, the right choice of materials, and an expert deck builder, you can transform your outdoor living space into a functional and aesthetically pleasing area. While considering the deck design, don’t forget to factor in important elements like deck framing, box steps, and the addition of luxury features like hot tubs and fire pits.

Remember, your deck is an extension of your indoor living space. Hence, it should not only complement your home’s architecture but also reflect your personal style and taste. Whether you choose pressure-treated wood or composite decking, aim to create a space that offers comfort, functionality, and a dash of luxury. With the right design ideas and professional installation, a multi-level deck can undoubtedly enhance your outdoor living experience, making every moment spent outside memorable and enjoyable.