A multi-level wood deck can give an otherwise lackluster entry a ton of curb appeal or add valuable entertaining space to an under-utilized area in your backyard. Building off an unsightly concrete stoop is also a great way to get a high-end multi-tiered look without a lot of complicated know-how or expense.
Clearing the surrounding landscape is a key step in preparing the area for a deck, especially when the sub-floor framing will be so close to the ground. Remove any large rocks, smooth out any high spots and relocate unwanted shrubbery to a new location. Also consider integrating some of the prettier landscape features into the deck’s design by simply framing around that particular section of the yard.
Pressure treated Southern Pine is known for its affordability, durability and strength so we opted for it with this deck. Strength is especially important as your deck is an extremely heavy structure. It’s also easy to work with when it comes to staining. NOTE: Any hardware should be heavy-duty and galvanized, so it will hold up to the elements.
With your deck design in hand, measure and mark the placement of the footers, then dig holes to the proper depth- this will depend on your region, deck design and landscape. Mix up two bags of high- strength concrete (per footer) and pour into each hole. Allow footers to cure per the concrete manufacturer guidelines.
Creating a tiered deck utilizing an existing concrete stoop is easier than you’d think but keep in mind the stoop and steps will dictate your new deck’s elevations. We attached several pressure-treated boards directly to the concrete stoop using masonry screws in order to create a wooden substrate. This is necessary so that you’ll have something to attach the decking to later. NOTE: If your exterior doors swing out make sure you’ll have proper clearance once underlayment and decking are installed.
To incorporate the existing treads into your subfloor you’ll need to secure 2”x 8” PT boards to the sides of the step using 3-inch masonry screws so that the tread and the top edge of the 2”x 8” boards are essentially level with one another. This will ensure a seamless decking installation later.
If you’re still waiting on your footers to cure, you can continue to work on the deck band by using temporary supports (custom cut scraps of wood). If the deck runs right up next to the home, you will need to secure that part of the deck band to the exterior using galvanized hardware appropriate for your application. (NOTE: Heavy weight distribution may require a proper ledger board)
Since the decking will run parallel to the house, the joists will run perpendicular. These 2”x 8” PT boards are toenailed in place, 16-inches on center across the entire structure, creating your deck’s subfloor system. Always install joist hangers to add strength and stability when possible.
With your concrete footers properly cured, you can now begin installing the galvanized post bases. Once precise placement is determined you can secure the base. Using the appropriate masonry bit, drill a pilot hole, then hammer in the provided hardware to secure the base to the concrete. Pop the supplied cover into place so the hardware is no longer visible.
Next, measure and mark your 6-inch post, then cut to size using a circular saw. Place inside the post base and secure with nails. Once the permanent posts are in place you can remove all the temporary wood supports. Toe-nail posts into place, then secure each post to the deck band or floor joists with the proper heavy-duty hardware (lag bolts or screw bolt fasteners).
With the sub-floor system completed you can begin decking. We laid boards across running from left to right, staggering lengths and leaving them long with a substantial overhang. We secured them to the joists using special polymer coated decking screws. You can also rent a coil screw gun to speed up this process. Your back and knees will thank you!
For a nice clean edge, snap a chalk line, then trim the excess decking using a circular saw. Always treat the cut ends with a wood preservative to fight moisture and pest damage.
If your budget allows, consider adding special features to boost your new deck’s functionality and appeal. Arbors, planter boxes, benches and privacy screens can be built using the same or complementary materials to give the area more visual impact.
Once you’ve let your pressure-treated wood deck “dry out” you can apply a stain and sealant product. Depending on your weather and condition of the lumber when you began building, you may need to give it several weeks before taking on this step. Protecting a wood deck is crucial to prolonging its life for as long as possible. By staining it, you’re minimizing UV, heat and moisture damage. Heat and UV damage can lead to drying and cracking of boards, while moisture can lead to excessive mildew, warping and eventually wood-rot.
Measuring tape shovel
48-inch standard level speed square
Compound miter saw (optional)
Drill & masonry bits
Compressor & nail gun
Auto-feed decking screw gun (optional/rental)
All Pressure-Treated Southern Yellow Pine 6”x 6” posts
2”x 8” boards for deck band and joists 5/4” decking boards
Stakes + string
High-strength concrete mix (3000 psi+) water
Galvanized adjustable post base
16-gauge galvanized nails
8-inch galvanized lag bolts or screw bolts
2 1⁄2-inch wood deck screws (polymer coated) deck stain and sealant combo
Paint brush or sprayer
Rags and latex gloves
Knee pads (optional)
Brian Patrick Flynn is an American television producer turned interior designer. After years writing, producing and directing news programs and home improvement shows, Flynn tried his own hand at residential interiors, quickly earning the respect of his peers and shelter magazine editors. Combining his design and decorating skills with his television production experience, he created FlynnsideOut Productions, a full service production company specializing in lifestyle-related content.