If you’re building a new deck or are planning to replace your existing one, it’s likely that your most pressing question is “how much does it cost to build a deck?” While there are too many variables to make this an easy question to answer, there are still some basic starting points to help determine a budget. Although the costs for labor and deck installation can vary from contractor to contractor (and vary widely by region), you can still get a rough estimate for the amount of materials you’ll need to build your new deck.
The average cost to build a deck mostly depends on material selection, but it also depends on the quality of that material. Regardless of which decking materials you are considering, it’s most accurate to look at your project on a per square foot basis.
The above numbers include national averages for:
To clarify further what these numbers mean, we are comparing pressure treated lumber and a mid-range composite decking and railing combo. As with any project, should you choose an exotic hardwood (such as Ipe) or more design-forward railings (such as Cable Railing or Trex Rod Rail) these numbers will change quite a bit. It’s also important to remember that multi-level decks, decks with long stair runs and landings, as well as those with more complex designs might affect your materials costs significantly.
Other key factors to consider when building your deck include:
These estimates are good general ballparks for the DIY’er. However, building a deck requires a certain level of skill and not everyone is capable. Hiring a licensed professional has many advantages, and tapping into a pro’s experience can lead to a better overall experience for some consumers.
Building a deck using-pressure treated lumber can be faster and more efficient for an experienced builder for several reasons. Since the material itself is less expensive, waste isn’t as big of a concern. Typically, wood decks are built using fasteners that are visible, and often faster and easier to install.
On the other hand, composites are a higher end material and waste is a bigger concern. And since these materials are more expensive (and often feature better aesthetics) most consumers select “hidden” fasteners that hold the boards by grooves in the sides. This can be a bit more time consuming to install and can affect the installation labor costs.
In general terms, you can add about $8-$22 per SqFt for the labor to build a deck.
One critical consideration to keep in mind when estimating costs is your ownership horizon. If you plan to stay in your home for a short time, up-front decking costs should be weighed more heavily. However, as you try to decide between low-maintenance products (such as composite or PVC decking) and pressure treated lumber, you have to consider the accumulation of maintenance costs over time.
In most markets pressure-treated lumber needs to be sanded and stained about once every two years. Hiring a professional to do this can make the payback time on low-maintenance materials as short as two years for lower-end material and up to 10 years for the premium selections from most decking manufacturers. Additionally, pressure treated wood starts to degrade as soon as it’s installed while most low-maintenance products carry fade and stain warranties that can span decades.
To better gauge the cost involved in building a deck, simply enter the desired width and depth for your deck into the deck price calculator. Your results will show you the estimated cost for materials, allow you to compare pricing based on your preferred species of wood or composite, and give you options to download our free design plans that you can use to build your own deck. Let’s get started!