Wood Deck Design - Project 4

Two Level Stained Pressure Treated Deck With Hot Tub and Living Area. A pressure treated wood deck design that has a private hot tub deck area and expansive low level entertaining area.

This is a multi purpose deck. The area for the hot tub is physically separate from the rest of the deck and has a privacy style railing/fence.


Layout of deck design

This home was brand new at the time and had an empty north facing backyard. This was a perfect empty artist's canvas upon which to create a unique wood deck design.

The Site

Site of deck

The exterior siding was a taupe vinyl cladding. The grade was flat. The soil was soft and there was no sod at the time of construction. The yard extended only about 25 feet to the property line.

Because the yard faced north, exposure to the sun was going to be greatest in the morning hours and less from midday to dusk.

And fortunately there were no underground services in this yard to worry abouts. The interior elevation of the first floor was only 16" so the clearance for a deck was getting very tight.

Any design for this wood deck site would have to stay low rather than rise up and away from the house. But the clients had a couple of specific demands in mind that would challenge this traditional wisdom..

The Clients

These clients loved the water - all year long. And since this site was located in the mild west coast numerous possibilites existed. They didn't want a full size pool because the yard was a bit small for their liking but a hot tub deck of some sort seemed to really appeal to them.

The also wanted a large area for entertaining and sun bathing so they wanted a hot tub in the deck - but that meant it would have to sit somewhat higher than the main deck surface because of the high water table. And they wanted lots of sun on their deck which faced north. Not much to ask for.

Once we defined these two primary requirements, this wood deck design started taking shape. We explained that to get more sunshine the lower deck would have to extendat least 12' out from the house.

And we also explained that a high water table in this area meant it would not be possible to set this tub into the ground.

Deck framing layout
Lower level

To do so would be flirting with disaster. So we would have to have a higher level for the hot tub deck. The higher the hot tub deck level, the more exposure above the fence and less privacy. So I had to think of options.

The Layout

Framing of lower deck

Before finalizing the layout we suggested the hot tub deck be installed at grade on compacted gravel and concrete slab with piers and footings. The soil here was soft and fertile and moist most of the year.

A conduit was laid under the gravel from the hot tub deck to the foundation of the house where a hole was cut through the concrete.

Framing around upper level

A 220 volt electrical line ran from the electrical box out through the conduit and connected to the hot tub.

I decided to have only 2 steps up from the lower level to the hot tub level to minimize the elevation change as much as possible.

But to maintain privacy we installed a built-in bench around the back half of the hot tub area and then created a privacy screen that was 5'6" high with 2x2 spaced about 1" apart.

You would have to look directly forward to really see anything and even then the distance was far enough to obscure any detail. So we got over the privacy and height issues.

Privacy fence around tub

The lower deck was set just below the interior floor of the house and a continuous wrap around step was built around the perimeter of the deck to allow access from any point in the yard. The northwest corner of the deck was also cut at 45 degrees to soften to size and appearance of the larger structure.

Leaving a large deck like this with sharp corners and angles only serves to further establish its presence and dominance in a backyard. So consider this when you are creating your deck design.


Finished deck

Voila! A hot tub deck and spa retreat in their backyard! The clients loved the final result. It felt like two distinct areas and with the benches and privacy screen, the hot tub deck had a real intimate feel to it, summer or winter. They also got an area big enough for soaking up sun despite the northern exposure.

The clients chose an opaque penetrating oil based stain to really seep deep into the wood. The colour was a light brown with a creamy undertone. A lighter deck stain can have the effect, again, of diminishing or softening the appearance of a large wood deck structure like this, which is exactly what was intended for this deck design.

As you put together your own deck design, take a moment to think about its size and dimension in comparison to the yard.

If it is really big compared to its environment, try cutting some corners at 45 degrees or using the deck stain trick. These are subtle design techniques but surprisingly effective.

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