4 Types of Decks

Which works best where?

April 26, 2019

Spring is when many people want to spend an increased amount of time taking in the warmer weather. Adding a deck to the property can do wonders to improve a home’s outdoor living space and allow for a host of entertaining options. Before constructing a brand new deck, it’s best to determine which style works best for its intended location and use. Below are the four most common deck types, along with some pros and cons of each.

ground level deck at the back of a home

Ground-level decks are the least expensive to install.


Ground-level decks provide a virtually seamless transition from the interior to the exterior of the home. The kitchen usually isn’t too far away, making activities such as grilling or dining outdoors super easy. Since they aren’t built very far off the ground, tall support beams, railings and additional bracing aren’t needed, which helps to keep costs down.

  • Relatively inexpensive to build
  • Adds seamlessly to outdoor living space
  • No added expenses from tall support beams, railings or bracing
  • Easy to access due to lack of stairs
  • Since close to ground, may have to fight with weeds or plants
  • May need to excavate if the clearance between the door and ground is low
  • Lack of ventilation under deck may encourage mold to grow on boards
elevated deck with beautiful vista

Elevated decks may offer spectacular views.


Elevated decks are a wonderful way to allow direct access to the outside from a home’s second story. Furthermore, they are great for entertaining and add quite a bit of curb appeal. For urban dwellers, elevated decks may be the only option to extend outdoor living space.

  • Increased privacy
  • No need to worry about keeping plants and weeds at bay
  • Access to better views than ground-level decks
  • Better chance for catching a breeze in the summer
  • Need increased bracing to compensate for taller support posts
  • Stairs and railings are often an added cost
  • Building codes can be fussy when dealing with lateral-load support
free standing deck in a yard

Free-standing decks can be built anywhere on the property.


Free-standing decks have the benefit of being able to be positioned anywhere on the property. Unlike concrete patios, they can be a bit more forgiving when it comes to unlevel terrain. These types of decks are also a good choice when the existing home or structure may not be able to support the deck ledger to provide much needed strength and stability. The ledger is what attaches the deck to a building.

  • Can be constructed anywhere and in any shape
  • Don’t rely on existing structures for support
  • Not subject to code revisions regarding lateral-load support
  • Won’t impact the home if damaged by weather
  • Able to be expanded upon fairly easily
  • Extra bracing is needed to resist motion
  • Additional framing is required to keep the deck from twisting
  • Doesn’t add a lot of extra value to the home
  • Require more maintenance due to being exposed on all sides
multi-level deck with furniture and table

Each section of a multi-level deck is like its own outdoor room.


Multi-level decks are really just a series of elevated or free-standing decks, often connected via stairs, ramps or paths. They are the perfect solution for large areas with diverse terrain. Many homeowners often designate each of the levels for a different activity, effectively creating outdoor “rooms.”

  • Add outdoor “rooms” to a home’s living space
  • Offer multiple, level surfaces for homes with sloped yards
  • Increase home value
  • Additional areas for privacy
  • Large area to maintain
  • Expensive to build when compared to other deck types
  • Extra stability is required when constructing
  • Design can be a challenge - consult with a professional

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