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Multi-level Pool Deck Ideas—With Photo Examples

Posted by Blue Haven Pools & Spas on May 11, 2024 9:07:05 PM

—Achieving better looks, versatility, and functionality for backyard leisure


In addition to providing a solution to a sloping property or disparate elevation between the house and yard, a deck with two or more tiers around a swimming pool delivers great functionality, an attractive outdoor space, and improved “zoning” for various backyard activities.

Even if your property is perfectly level, a deck with one or two raised sections will enhance the visual appeal of your outdoor setting and help designate various activity areas.

Why deck layout matters

How hardscape surrounds a swimming pool is key.

Versatility is valuable in a deck: Its configuration impacts the amount, location, and pedestrian flow throughout the pool and patio space and the features, amenities, and activities the patio area can accommodate.

A thoughtful hardscape plan will enhance the ease of access to the water and everyone’s ability to participate in their favorite backyard pastimes.

A pool designer can develop a layout that’s both attractive and functional—creating “flow” and distinct zones that make an outdoor setting more inviting.

Site conditions: flat vs. sloped or multi-level

Backyard topography usually plays an outsized role in determining the pool and deck arrangement.

If your yard is flat—or has been graded to be flat where the future pool and patio will be—the deck may be built level throughout. However, good reasons (discussed below) exist for introducing at least one section of elevated deck.

Now, if your lot contains a slope or has varying elevations, this characteristic can be the driving force for building a pool deck with several tiers and steps.

Thoughtful planning is needed to create sections that are level to maximize the usability of the available space.

The right choices will facilitate the use of backyard amenities—ranging from steps to fire pits—that the hardscape accommodates.

Builders use retaining walls, terracing, and grading techniques to address elevation changes and produce a cohesive pool, deck, and landscape design.

Capitalizing on multi-level topography

In most cases, a seasoned pool contractor will make a sloped site or one with several elevations work to your advantage with a multi-tier pool and deck.

One common approach is configuring a pool that incorporates a needed retaining wall into the pool’s gunite shell.

The result is a pool with a section of wall (referred to as raised bond beam) that extends above the rest of the structure, creating added dimension and visual interest.

In fact, some of the most dramatic, most aesthetically interesting pools are those with bond beam rising several feet above the waterline.

In some cases, this “multi-tier” pool will include a raised spa. It may include a rock waterfall or even a rock waterfall with an integrated pool slide. These features may have several steps that lead you up to them.

Another approach to uneven topography is to build part of the “inground” pool above grade. With the superb versatility of gunite, part of the pool shell be exposed and sitting atop the earth instead of underneath it.

Your builder will cover the exposed sections of the pool walls with decorative tile or stone. Or, the exposed section may take the form of an infinity pool, with water dramatically overflowing it into a tiled catch basin.

Pools with raised beam or built partially out of the ground often call for a two- or three-tier deck and one or two sets of stairs connecting them.

Steps and their “stair-ing” role around decks

Step configurations are critical for safety and accessibility, enabling access to the pool, spa, and various levels of the deck and any features built upon it.

Some sections of a deck will function purely as thoroughfares. For example, a swathe connects the house to the pool and patio area and it includes several steps along the way.

Configurations may include steps that lead to a lower or higher area of the backyard.

Steps may lead to a structure such as a pool house or outdoor pavilion, or, they may bring you to a secluded seating area or to an amenity such as a mini putting green or the kids’ jungle gym.

In some projects, the design includes a raised pad—a kind of small stage—intended for the future home of an outdoor dining table or a set of chaise lounges.

On a sloped or heavily terraced property, a set of steps may be needed from the house to access the entire pool.

Going up—when the yard is flat

Say you have a nice flat backyard. Yes, on one hand, it’s ideal for pool construction.

But it’s also, well, one-dimensional.

Your pool designer might wisely introduce some height variations for the poolscape.

Appealing options could include a raised spa, a rock waterfall, tall arcing deck jets, or a several-foot stretch of raised bond beam—even though a raised pool wall is not technically necessary for construction purposes.

When it comes to the deck for this flat yard, including even one or two small raised sections can go a long way for style and use.

For example, building a simple 6-inch platform for a dining table and chairs will create an activity zone.

Or, imagine a spa that’s built 12, 18, or more inches above the pool. Consider wrapping several feet of raised decking around the spa with one or several steps leading up to it.

This configuration will give you a more interesting focal point on your pool, and it will make being in the spa feel special “up above it all.”

Other planning factors

In addition to the pool itself and ground elevations, factors such as available space, drainage, landscape plans, and architectural features—as well as your budget—will influence the size and configuration of your deck.

Depending on your intended uses, the deck should provide ample space for lounging, dining, and recreational activities while ensuring easy access to the pool from various points.

The layout could include zones for grilling, dining, gathering around a fire pit, or relaxing on a set of lounges with side tables. Multi-level decks are ideal for creating these activity zones.

Most residential pool decks have at least 300 square feet. Typically, this amount allows for two to three feet of hardscape around an inground pool’s entire perimeter.

But take note: Larger decks are popular. In fact, once homeowners see the deck crew’s layout specialist physically plot out markers for the material to be installed, they often request more square footage. Extra decking is probably the most common addendum that pool builders add to existing contracts.

Topics: Backyard Entertaining


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