The Deck Store has been helping home owners, business owners, and professional contractors better understand deck and patio construction for decades. We hope to expand the reach of that knowledge through our blog.
Building a deck can add value to your home and increase your living space without the expense of adding an additional room to your house.
A place to be enjoyed many months out of the year and some places all year. It makes sense that building or updating a deck can boost the value of your home and provide a peaceful retreat.
Wood decking is the overwhelming choice for most homeowners. However, Composite (Synthetic) plank decking offers good looks with less upkeep. Composites, which blend ground-up wood and plastic, have chipped away at wood's popularity. Some even contain recycled plastic.
On average homeowners spend about $7,000-$12,000 to build a 200-to 500 sq ft deck, with some smaller decks costing as low as $1,500. The cost to build a deck in wood, composite or plastic is around $30-$60 per square foot, including materials. The cost of your project will depend on factors like size, building materials, and extras to enhance functionality. AND...Don’t forget local building codes and permits.
With so many materials available, it’s tough to know which will stand the test of time. Use this guide to consider smart options that fit your budget and help create a space that's both relaxing and easy to care for.
Some deck materials require almost no ongoing maintenance, but you'll pay a bit more for the convenience. Less expensive materials can make a fine deck, but often require more maintenance, like regular cleaning and resealing to avoid rotting and color changes. When choosing materials for your deck project, your options fall into three main categories, each with pros and cons.
Composite decking from brands like Trex, Deckorators, and Timbertech are increasingly popular, as it requires little maintenance. Options include polyethylene, polypropylene, and polyvinyl chloride or PVC (average cost per square foot is $17.)
The cost of composite decking is about $35 per square foot, including moorings, railings, framework and other components. A word of warning about composite decking; it uses glue and other chemicals to hold the wood and plastic together. In the event of a fire, these substances will release toxic gases into the air. Also, unless treated with fire-retardants, composite materials can burn hotter than wood. If you just want a deck to relax on, this may not be a concern. But use caution if you plan to install a fire pit or outdoor grill on your deck.
Natural wood is a go-to choice for deck construction because of its inherent beauty. While some species are less expensive than composites, they require more maintenance, weatherproofing and staining to keep their appearance. The most common woods used for decking are:
California softwood, the average price per square foot is $17.50
Brazilian hardwood, the average price per square foot is $15
Brazilian/African hardwood, the average price per square foot is $12
Cedar, average price per square foot is $5
Grass classified as a hardwood, average price per square foot is $6.50
Bamboo is a fairly new commercial decking material. While it can be hard to find long-strand bamboo dealers, it might be worth your while to look. When purchasing bamboo, be sure it comes from sustainable farms. Unscrupulous dealers may harvest from wild regions and damage natural habitats. The quality of bamboo harvested in this way cannot be guaranteed. Sustainable farms can provide at least some guarantee as to the health of the wood. With the exception of redwood, most natural woods used for decks are sustainably grown. Tight regulations and industry oversight can make tropical woods harder to come by, but their durability is enough for some people to justify the cost.
Pressure-treated wood is an attractive material for those on a budget. Of all the materials offered, however, this one merits the most scrutiny for its cons. The good news about the chemicals (which are nowhere near as dangerous as they used to be) is that you can apply a penetrating oil-based sealer every year or two to protect yourself from contact. The average price per square foot is $3.50
(There are still some potentially harmful chemicals in PT wood, which is why a good sealer is strongly recommended.)
Older PT decks (pre-2003) used an extremely toxic chemical called chromate copper arsenate. Arsenate, a compound that contains arsenic, is similar to rat poison. It has since been discontinued for residential use and replaced by amine copper quat and copper azole. They are as effective as arsenic-based preservatives and are considered safer because the body doesn't absorb copper.
When calculating the cost of building a deck, you have to figure in more than just the wood. A deck made from inexpensive materials may not be cost-effective when you include construction and maintenance costs. Be sure to factor in size, other construction and protection elements, taxes and insurance and all the little extras that make a deck not only usable but enjoyable!
Most deck builders charge an average rate of around $35 per square foot. Materials are also purchased per square foot. If you want a large or elaborate deck, you will spend quite a bit more than for a small platform. It comes down to functionality. If you want to do more than sit on your deck, your budget will increase.
The average deck is about 10x12 feet. This makes it easy to calculate how much it will cost to build a deck. However, in addition to the deck material, you need to calculate a few other costs:
There are two rules of thumb regarding the design and construction of your new deck.
First, the surface should be no more than two inches below the access door which has smart locks installed by Locksmith experts. Not only does this make for a clean appearance, but it's also the normal step-down or step-up that most people expect. Second, your deck should be no larger than the largest room in your house. This helps keep the deck proportionate to the rest of the living space.
**If your design has an unusual shape or multiple levels, it will be harder to estimate the cost.
A standard, rectangular deck can often be had for as little as $1,500, but custom designs can easily reach $10,000+.
There are many calculators available online that can give you a rough idea of what your deck will cost, and some purchased programs will even print your plan out like a blueprint. Or you can visit us at The Deck Store where an experienced, award-winning team knows decking inside out. Building decks in the Minneapolis - St. Paul area since the 1980s.
Our experts at The Deck Store can help you create complete estimates of all the Railing, Decking, or other components needed to complete your deck project.
A deck is an addition to your house. This means it will add to your property value and property taxes. How much it adds depends on the total cost. The best time to look into this is during the planning stage. Check with your local assessor's office to avoid any unpleasant surprises. You also don't want any insurance surprises. Be sure a deck is covered by your homeowner's policy before you commit to anything. When you hire a contractor, make sure any needed permits are obtained, and ask for a Certificate of Insurance. This covers the crew during construction. If no certificate is available, find another contractor. Also, be sure the contractor will arrange a Certificate of Occupancy. This will certify that the deck is safe for a certain number of people to occupy, just as you would with a new interior room.
A deck can be as simple as a platform, but where's the fun in that? Get creative with your special features: built-in storage for keeping kids toys out of sight, a misting system to keep you cool or even an outdoor spa or hot tub! Built-in furniture can even double as hidden storage for covers and spare cushions. Each of these features will make your space more usable. You will also want to factor in the cost of landscaping the area around the deck to tie everything together.
Before you start calculating and estimating how much it will cost to build your deck, you should ask yourself how many decks you really need. It might be tempting to build a fully loaded, multi-level party platform simply because you can, but it will be costly. If what you really want is a place to sip lemonade and watch the sunset, you will have wasted quite a bit of money. On the other hand, if you have kids or expect to entertain a lot, that cozy 10-by-12-footer is going to get crowded.
Experts recommend creating a mock-up. Put everything you intend to have on your deck where it's going to go. If you are going to put a gas grill on your deck, do some research before determining its placement. The particulars vary from state to state, but a rule of thumb is to keep it at least three feet away from any wall and five feet from any overhanging structures. If using a charcoal barbecue, keep a heat resistant pad under it, and have something to set the lid on if it is removable. Otherwise, you could scorch or burn your deck.
Once you've done a mock-up, mark it off and measure. Leave it all in position for a while, and note how much sun your location does or doesn't get. If you get too much or not enough shade, you may want to rethink the location. By creating a mock-up and paying attention to specifics before you commit to a contractor or building plan, you'll save yourself the cost and hassle of changing your mind once the project is underway.
Once your deck project gets underway, there will be a lot of foot traffic and materials lying around. Avoid damage to your landscaping by protecting your yard with tarps, cages and other barriers. Spending a little time at the beginning of the project will help you mitigate any additional costs to fix the landscaping once your deck is complete.
Remember to include the cost of routine maintenance in your project budget. If you use stain, it will need an occasional refreshing to maintain the color. Some stains are transparent and allow the wood grain to show through.
This is best for wood in good condition with an attractive grain pattern. Semi-transparent stains accent the wood grain while adding a little more color. Solid stains are more like paint and are good for wood that is visibly aged and a bit distressed.
The average price of stain is around $30 per gallon.
Sealer is what protects your deck from the elements. To keep your deck at its best, it should be resealed every year. Before resealing, clean and pressure wash your deck to remove the old sealer. New sealer costs an average of $20 per gallon, though prices run from $10 to $40 depending on the manufacturer.
You may also want to waterproof your deck, which is not the same as sealing. Sealant penetrates into the wood's pores and protects it from mold, pests and the accumulation of moisture. If you stop at just sealing the wood, the sealant can break down if standing water is allowed to collect. Waterproofing causes the water to bead up and easily roll off your deck. By not allowing the water to soak in, waterproofing helps your deck dry faster as well.
While some people have had great luck with combination waterproofing sealers or waterproofing stains, others prefer to have a separate product for each stage. The combination products sell for between $10 and $25 per gallon, a stand-alone waterproofing agent costs around $15 per gallon. If you use separate waterproofing and stain, you will need to remove both in order to reseal, so the waterproofing will have to be reapplied as well.
After you've done all the estimates and come up with the perfect design, it's time to decide if this is a job you can handle. The safest answer is “no.” While it's possible to build a deck on your own, there are details you might not have considered.
Insurance is a big factor. If you build your dream deck yourself and any part of the workmanship turns out to be faulty, you may be liable for any resulting damages or injuries.
In addition to construction issues, as a DIYer, you run the risk of building a deck only to have an inspector tell you to rip it all out because it isn't up to code. By hiring a skilled and experienced contractor, you can be reasonably sure that your deck will be built properly.
If you do decide to build a deck yourself, you should be aware of these common risks and pitfalls:
Hiring a contractor is strongly recommended, especially if you're building your dream deck. Although the cost of hiring a contractor can be double or triple the DIY cost, the peace of mind is worth it.
As an outdoor living space, a deck requires inspections and permits. Some elements may require the services of an architect. Safe placement of gas lines, fire pits, hot-tubs and other features is something you don't want to guess about. And all of those features need the proper support to avoid a tragedy.
Therefore, your safest bet is to hire a contractor who knows how to do the job properly. Before gathering deck estimates, be wary of contractors who boast that they do things up to code. That's contractor-speak for doing the minimum necessary to pass inspections. Look for contractors who boast about doing things above the code requirements. If possible, get references from friends or neighbors who have had a deck constructed.
** This is the best way to see a professional's workmanship for yourself.
As decks age, even the hardiest of woods can split or warp. Splinters are no fun, and neither is tripping over a board that has popped up. Some repairs can be done easily by the homeowner or a local handyman. Other problems may indicate that your deck has reached the end of its lifespan. Local issues are usually small repairs. For example, a planter that has repeatedly over-flowed might be the source of rotten boards beneath it. A single board with a popped up nail might need to be replaced. But some damage hints at deeper troubles that will require a skilled professional:
If you have any concerns about the safety of your deck, have it inspected. A good contractor will provide you with details of what contributed to the damage and, if possible, how to avoid it in the future.
In one case, a brick patio was placed around the deck foundation. This prevented drainage, which led to faster rot in the supports.
How much it costs to restore or replace a deck varies as much as the original cost of a new deck.
When gathering estimates, however, there are some things you should ask about:
Adding a new deck is just like adding a new room. Granted, it's a room without walls or a roof (unless you put in awnings or a pergola), but it should be approached with the same care and consideration you would use when adding an addition such as a bedroom or expanding your kitchen. With proper planning and the right deck building professionals, your new outdoor space will give you and your family enjoyment for many years to come!
The Deck Store has expert deck and patio builders on staff that are available to answer any question you might have.