Adding a second story deck to your home is not only a great home improvement idea, but it can increase the living and entertainment space of your home and also increase its value. Decks can be at ground level but can also be constructed for other house levels as well. You may wonder if a second-story deck is right for your home and how to build a second-story deck.
Building a second-story deck on your home requires special consideration for the design, structural engineering, and material choice for construction. The structural requirements and design are more complex than ground-level decks and usually require professional construction and advice.
Building a second-story deck has some additional considerations to be mindful of over a ground-level deck. The support requirements will be different, as well as the design aesthetics and the costs involved. The support of the upper-level deck is of particular importance. It should not be neglected at the design phase of your planning.
Considerations For Building A Second-Story Deck
Building an upper deck is a project that many homeowners choose to undertake because of the benefits a deck provides to increase the home’s living space and increase its value.
Suppose you are planning on building a second-story deck. In that case, you may want to consider the following before you embark on the project.
- Aesthetics of the deck. How is the deck going to impact the look of the outside of your house? The designs of some homes do not lend themselves to the construction of a second-story deck.
- The support of the deck. Because of the deck’s height, there are additional code requirements and engineering requirements to factor in to ensure the deck is sturdy, safe, and will last a long time.
- Access to the second-story deck. You will need to modify a second-story room to allow access to the top deck, which will involve structural changes to your home that you need to plan for and factor in as an additional cost to the deck’s construction.
- External deck access. Suppose you intend to add stairs to the deck to make it accessible from the outside. In that case, you need to design the stairs carefully to minimize the visual impact they will have on your home and any lower-level windows or access point. Stairs also need specific types of support to make sure they are safe and robust.
- Additional taxes. A deck adds value to your home, and as such, you will pay more in taxes for your home once the deck is complete.
- Insurance costs. You may want to consult your insurance provider to determine any insurance risk requirements and costs before going ahead with your second-story deck project.
Some of these points of consideration can be tricky to decide on and get right from a code and structural point of view, and that is where we at T-N-T Home Improvements can help you out.
Deckbuilding is one of our specialties. We have in-house engineers to help you with designs and structural concerns, as well as advice on the best materials to use for your deck construction!
How To Support A Second-Story Deck
Structural support is certainly one of the most important considerations for an upper-level deck. The deck’s height will be a dimension that will dictate the type, structure, and distance between the deck’s supports.
Supporting a second-story deck has different requirements to be remembered, not only for the deck itself but also for the house.
Some homes have a gap between the ceiling of the ground floor and the floor of the second-story to accommodate air conditioning and heating ducting, electrical wiring, and bathroom plumbing. This height difference between the two stories must be factored into the deck’s final height calculations and how the deck is to be secured to the house.
The support posts of the deck need to be sized correctly for the height of the deck. Generally, a 4×4 post is recommended for a deck that is 8 to 9-feet above ground level, but if your deck is going to be higher than this, then the 4×4 posts will not be the best choice to support the deck.
If your deck is higher, you may need 6×6 posts or even 8×8 posts. These posts are significantly thicker and thus more expensive than 4×4 posts, so to design your deck cost-effectively, you need to know what the right size posts are to use for your deck. This is easily determined by our on-site engineer, but if you don’t have one of those, you will need to read up on the requirements and building codes in your area.
Using unnecessarily thick posts can lead to unnecessary expenses. While using posts that are too small could result in a deck that is dangerous or that will not last long.
You may opt for a different support material altogether in certain instances, such as structural steel support or even giant glulam beams. But these are usually found on very custom decks and not as common as just 4×4 posts and 2×8 joists.
The footing (or caisson) for the posts is also important. As is the connection hardware between the post and the caisson.
Second-Story Deck And Patio Ideas
If you are considering adding a raised deck to your home, you may have a basic idea of what you want but not sure of a design that would fit in with your house layout and design.
Often, the biggest problem is visualizing the design and seeing it in your mind’s eye and how it affects your house’s look.
A good idea is to get a CAD drawing done of the deck and your house, which will leave you in no doubt about how the design will look in real life and how it will affect your home’s appearance.
T-N-T Home Improvements can render a 3D CAD drawing of your proposed deck so you can get an excellent feel for what your proposed project will turn out like.
Design aspects for your upper deck that you should also consider include: adding a roof for the deck and the railing design around the deck.
A roof could provide you with shade, shelter, or both and improve your deck’s usability across the different seasons and the weather they bring.
The deck railing is not only a safety feature but also an aesthetic element that needs to fit in with the style and décor of your home.
The material you choose to build your deck will determine how it fares and weathers over the years and ultimately how it makes your home look. The material used will also be a factor determining how much maintenance will cost you over the years.
An excellent way to get some ideas for second-story decking is to look at what some other people have included in their deck designs to see what could work for you. Take a look at our T-N-T Home Improvements deck gallery to view some of the projects we have completed for our customers.
How Much Does It Cost To Build A Second-Story Deck?
The cost of building a raised deck is subject to the material you use, the height of the deck, and the dimensions of the deck.
The material used is a factor that affects the initial cost to build the deck and the ongoing maintenance costs of the deck. Synthetic materials have a higher initial price than natural wood. Still, they have a significant saving in the long run on maintenance and replacement costs.
Natural lumber has a cheaper entry-level cost to get the deck installed. Still, the deck will require annual maintenance costs that will significantly increase your home’s maintenance cost.
In certain applications, wood works better than synthetic materials, and you may still want to go the natural material route.
Finding a contractor who can give you practical advice from experience with both materials could quite possibly be the best choice you can make in the construction of your deck.
The decision to embark on a project to put a second-story on your home is a good idea to add outdoor living and recreational space to your home and increase the value at the same time.
While a second-story deck is a little more complicated than a ground-level deck, it is not beyond the reach of most homeowners and adds an attractive and functional feature to your home.
Wherever possible, use an experienced contractor who specialized in deck construction to give you valuable input on the design, materials, and construction of your deck.
We at T-N-T Home Improvements can not only offer advice on design and materials but have in-house engineers to advise you on the structural aspects and choices of your deck. We can assist you from design to engineering and construction of your deck to make sure you have a professional outcome and the deck of your dreams!