The best way to integrate interior and exterior living is to create near-seamless transitions from the inside of the home that flow outward into the yard area. This design focus creates more ease of use and enticement for family and guests to flow from inside the home into the yard.
The best deck to patio transition ideas are ones that create spaces for relaxing and playing that flow from the deck to the patio and then on into the yard. Intriguing spaces with nice flow invite activity and exploration. Wider stairways with a gentle slope create a sense of relaxation and luxury.
We will cover some deck to patio transition ideas that can be combined to form a basis for creating the perfect deck to patio transition.
Deck to Patio Transition Basics
There are a few rules of thumb to keep in mind when designing a deck to patio transition. Every deck to patio transition involves at least a couple of steps, but the design of stairs can either encourage or discourage the deck to patio migration.
- Wider stairs are always more inviting than narrow stairs. The wider they are, the more open they feel, inviting people to use them. Side rails should still always be included. Very wide stairs can have a middle rail if needed.
- Steep, narrow stairs can feel daunting to many people, and even a little dangerous. Bringing stairs down on a longer run with deeper treads and more gentle grade makes them appear more smooth and inviting. It creates a gentler slope onto the patio below.
- Flat yards that have a home to deck to patio transition can do this with multiple single-stepped outdoor areas that can be traversed without a run of stairs.
- Ramped areas are a lovely addition for homes with a gentle grade between the deck and patio. These ramps can be placed as an augment to stairs, or as paths that wind around to outdoor living spaces.
There are quite a few design options for those who want to create a deck to patio transition that is more imaginative than a narrow stairway and rail. Lower deck to patio transitions can be done in ways that are nearly seamless.
Use Wide Stairs
Standard residential stair width is four feet. This width is adequate, but it permits only single-file passing up and down the stairs. This is the bare minimum design for residential stairs, and certainly does not lend a luxe feel to the area.
Those who are considering a fresh deck to patio design should incorporate wider stair treads. For deck to patio transitions that are around one to two feet, the transition can be completed without a notable stairway.
- The deck can be finished smoothly around the edges with a minimal rail in areas that are dedicated to seating. This railing creates a safety barrier against visitors scooting a chair off of the ledge.
- The rest of the deck is opened to a second step that encompasses the deck. A third step can be run around the perimeter of the deck, if needed. Very wide open deck to patio transitions are typically two to three short, wide steps.
- The stairs can be mitred to meet on decking corners seamlessly.
- Handrails can be installed at one or two points on the deck as an aid to those who are wary of stepping down with no assistance
- The patio meets up to or goes up under the bottom stair of the deck for a seamless transition onto the patio cement or pavers.
This is a very luxurious way of creating a deck to patio transition. The overall effect is a wide-open space that can host small groups or large gatherings. This space can be further divided through design accessory choices such as chairs, tables, planters, and water features.
Use Stair Risers That Are Deep and Short
Shallower stair treads do not give very much room for the foot to make contact with the stair, making them feel less secure. Choosing deeper stair treads means that there will be more space needed for the run of stairs, but the slope will be less.
Similarly, shorter stair risers of four inches rather than six inches are less efficient for running up and down the flight of stairs, but they also feel more casual and create a more gentle slope.
- Very short vertical distances can be traversed with very wide and short steps that give those traversing the space maximum stability while ascending to the deck level. This is great for parties, hosting groups of mixed ages, and occasions when food and drinks need to be brought up and down the stairs.
- Using more yard space for deck to patio transitions make the transitions less obvious and feel much more luxurious. Luxury is marked by leisure and a costly use of space. Thus, longer stair runs give a feeling of luxury and less hurry, while requiring less energy and muscle to ascend and descend.
- Use matching decking to meet up with a lower patio. Do not use patio pavers to build up to the decking. This has an inverted look and increases the odds of guests tripping on uneven stone stair treads.
These are the basics of thinking about design choices that help create a flow from deck to patio without causing a large interruption in the flow of outdoor activities.
Multi Level Decking With Gathering Spaces
Multi level decks are a great way to gently transition living spaces from one level down to another in steps, while creating living spaces along the way. This is a very luxurious deck to patio design that maximizes outdoor living opportunities.
- Consider building an outdoor kitchen on the patio below the deck. This can be made as extravagant as desired. The flow of the home would move from the interior dining space that opens onto a same-level deck accessible through french doors, a collapsing door, or a sliding glass door.
- Guests would flow through several levels of seating that are arranged on various decking levels. This culminates in the final deck to patio transition step, ending at the outdoor kitchen with a large cooking and eating area.
- Deck seating could include areas that are set up for different moods. A firepit, a wet bar, a water feature area, or aromatic planters are all ideas for creating spaces of varying levels of relaxation. All areas can be enjoyed in small groups or opened up for larger group gatherings due to single steps in between levels.
This is the best way to transition from the deck to the patio without abandoning the use of the deck altogether. Think about ways that guests can enjoy both spaces in different ways. Perhaps the deck has a cooking and seating area with gentle steps that lead to a hot tub, pool, and covered patio seating with a wet bar and cold drinks.
Ramps are under utilized in deck to patio transitions because they are usually much more expensive to design and build. However, for those with large properties or large yards with lush landscape, a raised meandering ramp that ends on the patio or on a path that leads back toward the house can increase accessibility and create the illusion of a woodland path. This is not suitable for very high deck to patio transitions.
- Use redwood planks to design a forest park-like path that makes the yard accessible with a friendly slope. This path should have a rail on elevated areas and employ non-slip surfaces.
- Incorporate wider areas into the ramp with built-in seating to encourage rest and reflection.
- Flank the ramp with ornamental plantings and yard art or sculptures that create visual interest and help to create separate meditative spaces.
- The ramp can blend into a concrete, paver, or flagstone path that continues meandering around more level areas of the yard, and joins up to the ground-level patio.
- The deck should also have a series of steps to access the patio quickly.
Ramps are often thought of only for wheelchair or walker accessibility, which is important, but everyone enjoys a slow meander down an interesting path, and a well-designed ramp can be just that. It is also a safer way for children to traverse from a deck to patio and yard without the risk of tumbling down the stairs.
Deck to patio transitions can involve much more creativity than a steep stairway with a rail. The best designs incorporate multiple large deck levels so that guests can flow from one area of the deck to another, while descending to the patio level. This creates an illusion of greater continuity and less slope than a series of straight steps. Be sure to check out our article were we go over what deck material can last you awhile!