What is a Triplex Apartment? (Layout Options)

Updated July 30, 2021
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Triplex apartments are similar to duplex apartments, except they have three units instead of two. These are multi-family buildings consisting of three units, generally stacked on top of each other with a private, interior staircase connecting the three floors. 

These differ from duplexes in that they’re often one rental unit that covers three floors, rather than two independent units with their own entrances. However, new-construction triplexes may have side-by-side layouts with private outdoor entrances for each unit.

triplex apartment
Classic building exterior in San Francisco, CA

Triplex Layouts and Plans

Triplexes are generally part of a building’s original construction. In a larger apartment building, owners often bought the units above and below them and converted them into triplexes. 

Most of the time, the units are roughly the same size and have similar floor plans. Occasionally, though, you’ll find triplexes with the middle apartment offset from the other two. Here are different layouts for triplex apartments.


New-construction triplexes often exist as side-by-side units, with each unit sharing a wall. In this way, they resemble many duplexes down to having their own exterior entrances.

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Builders often construct these triplexes with a shared wall between two garages and the other between the smallest parts of the units.

Three-Story Houses

You’ll find a lot of residential triplexes that resemble three-story houses. They have one exterior entrance and three floors. Each apartment has a private entrance, but the staircase is accessible to all residents and visitors. 

Usually, the owner bought the house and remodeled it, turning it into a triplex. 


Some triplexes were once three-floor penthouse units in larger apartment buildings. In these cases, the owner converted each floor into an individual apartment and connected all three floors with a staircase or elevator. 

These apartments are generally all the same size and likely have similar floor plans. Occasionally, the penthouse owner will make them different sizes with distinct floor plans.


The rarest triplex layout only has two similarly-sized units and a smaller unit existing in the middle as the third apartment. They connect to the other two apartments via a half staircase and don’t line up with the two main floors. 

You usually only find this layout in buildings where the floors are taller than usual because they technically only have two main floors. The middle floor isn’t part of the original design in this case.

what is a triplex apartment

The Benefits of Renting a Triplex

Why should you consider renting a triplex apartment?


Triplex apartments are among the biggest affordable apartment rentals out there. They’re often larger than traditional apartments, which makes them extremely popular with families. 


Many triplexes have amenities you won’t find in traditional apartments, like washers and dryers. Each unit might also have its own patio, porch, or deck on which to enjoy barbecues, quiet afternoons, and more without sharing the space with neighbors.


When you live in a triplex, you aren’t sharing walls and space with nearly as many people as you are in a traditional apartment building. Because of that, you aren’t constantly running into people you don’t know in the hallways and common areas.

Drawbacks to Triplexes

Nothing is perfect, and there are some drawbacks to renting a triplex. 

Triplexes are Uncommon

It’s hard to find triplex apartments. Most multi-family housing consists of traditional apartments or duplexes. Triplexes are the rarest type of multi-family housing, so they’re in high demand.

Sharing Certain Amenities

Depending on the layout of your triplex, you might have to share things like driveways with your neighbors. As we mentioned above, you also have to share outdoor spaces. For those who have always lived in this type of housing, that may not be a big deal. 

If you’re used to single-family, detached houses, getting used to a triplex might prove somewhat challenging.

Should You Rent or Buy a Triplex Apartment?

Whether you rent or buy a triplex depends heavily on what you’re looking for. If you’re looking for a place to live and want a spacious apartment for your family, you can consider a triplex. 

If you’re an owner who wants to live on-site with more than one tenant, purchasing a triplex may serve you well. Examine your situation closely to decide what’s right for you. Every living space has its benefits and drawbacks whether you’re a tenant, a landlord, or a homeowner. If you’re in the market for a new place to live, you can check out what Bigos has available here.

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