Maximizing view from deck

by Bruce
(Northbridge, MA)

View from Deck

View from Deck

We just bought a house with a nice view off the deck. The deck needs replacing and I'm trying to figure out design.

We are looking at an 18'x18' deck, I would like to make a three step lower level (6'x18') and a (12'x18') upper level. My wife is against it. Having a step down will lower the outer railing with respect to the upper level to get a better view, but I rarely see this done.

Any comments on whether this is a good or bad idea, unnecessary, am I missing something?!

Editor's Comments

This is an understandable deck design feature that many people would like to understand better and try to incorporate into their plans to maximize a view like yours.

The problem or challenge this creates is that you have to maintain a continuous railing from the upper level to the next. There are a couple ways to think about this.

Two Levels Connected By A Traditional Staircase

You could build a second level below the upper level and connect the two with a common 36" or 48" wide set of stairs with stair rail. The upper deck would be surrounded by railing and joining with the stair rail.

This is probably the most secure and the most practical. You can also adjust the width of the stairs as you wish and you could use winders or a landing between the two decks to shorten the run and preserve more space on the lower deck.

Since this lower deck is only 6' deep you might want to seriously consider how you will not use up all the space for stairs. The greater the elevation change the more this becomes an issue.

One Full Width Stair Case

The other option is to build a stair case that runs the full width of the upper deck and lands on the lower deck. You would have stair rails on both sides that in effect follow the same perimeter of the two decks. You are just changing elevations.

This is a bit overwhelming from a visual point of view and more work but entirely possible.

However this means the lower deck has to be set further away from the upper deck and the gap is filled by the stairs.

These are the things you may wish to consider as you go about your planning for this new deck.

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Nov 06, 2015
Full width
by: Bruce

Thanks so much for commenting. I had a full width stair in mind so there were no interior railings. Just wondering why I don't see this much- too expensive for the effect or possibly wasting space as the lower level may not be so usable. Thanks!

Editor's Comments

The reason you do not see full width stairs joining different deck elevations as you have described is because it is a lot more expensive to build stairs, and it takes up so much space from the lower deck, further increasing costs.

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