How much does it cost to build a deck?

Getting permits, picking the right contractor and selecting the best deck material for your needs are all important choices to make when building a new deck. (Photo courtesy of Red Deer Construction/DECKo)

Getting permits, picking the right contractor and selecting the best deck material for your needs are all important choices to make when building a new deck. (Photo courtesy of Red Deer Construction/DECKo)

Putting up a new deck can improve both the function and look of your home and its future resale value. The costs of new decks can vary significantly, however, depending on square footage, the type of materials used and whether you choose to hire a contractor or do it yourself. So, what can you expect to pay for a deck?

Deck type and size

The most important cost consideration is the size and type of deck you want. The bigger the square footage, the more you can expect to pay. The type of deck boards you use will also factor into your overall cost. For example, using the least expensive type of lumber available, you can build an 8-by-10 foot deck for approximately $500 in materials. A raised, 10-by-16 foot deck will cost around $1,500. Expect these costs to double or triple if you use a contractor. Multilevel or wrap-around decks will add an extra cost.

Where you're putting your deck also matters. If it's low enough to the ground, you may be able to place the joists on four-way deck blocks ($10 to $20), rather than digging post holes. It's possible to level the soil and place these directly on the ground, but most homeowners choose to add gravel or a large paving stone to help keep the structure from shifting. Higher decks mean you need to pour concrete pilings for support pillars. (Your city or town will have rules about how high a deck can be before it requires certain supports.) Post holes will have to be augured and the posts set in place before any construction can begin.

Materials matter

Treated lumber is the most common type of deck material, but your options vary. Redwood, for example, is a high-quality wood choice, or you may choose tongue-and-groove pine decking ($300 to $600) to help keep bugs and plants from rooting through. PVC "boards" are also a popular option because they are weather resistant, won't crack or splinter and don't require painting. They are available both in designs that mimic wood grain and more vibrant colors as desired.

If you don't want a raised deck, consider a flagstone or poured concrete option. Both require digging, leveling and tamping of large ground sections, but they don't require painting or staining once complete. Hiring a pro is recommended for any stone or concrete work.

Pros versus DIY

If you hire a pro, expect to pay between $8 and $10 per square foot if you use standard lumber. Redwood will run you $27 and $35 per square foot. A large, multilevel deck off of a second story with staircases, for example, could run up to $15,000 if you hire a contractor, but you could do the same work yourself for half that cost.

There are several benefits to bringing in a pro, especially if you have a complex deck project. The first is experience: A contractor will know what works and what doesn't and can advise you if a particular idea is too costly or simply won't work with your house. In addition, contractors come with a crew and all the necessary tools, and they'll bring or order all the materials, meaning you don't need to worry about logistics. Make sure to get a guarantee in writing about the deck's workmanship: typically, this will cover any structural issues over a certain number of years. You'll want to make sure that the contractor you hire will take care of any permits that are required. Also ask about how your contractor will assemble your deck. Lag bolts will last longer than carriage bolts, for example.

Extras to consider

You can also improve your new deck with extras: for example, gas lines for a barbecue ($300), built-in speakers ($250) or a pergola ($300). Remember, too, that if you have an old deck, it needs to be removed. This can add up between $1,000 and $3,000 to a contractor's cost, depending on how much he charges to have your old decking hauled away. Some may include this free of charge if your project is large enough. Other extra costs may include fixes to your home if proper flashing wasn't previously used or if you have significant water damage.


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Comments

Doug offers some really basic advice....but all is a great starting point for all readers......but be prepared if it is your first time whether using a PRO or DIY for some unexpected issues. My add-on is do not use wood?

I recommend using a reputable contractor and not trying to quiz him at his own game. Its insulting. If you don't trust someone or cant take the time to hire the right person then maybe you need to hire someone to do that also.

Many counties around the U.S. are adhering to the 2009 IRC prescriptive code for building decks. These set of codes are often augmented by the AWC's own DCA pamphlet, which are based on the IRC codes and then incorporate good building practices. Googling the AWC and building a deck will provide you with the pamphlet you need to reference when you contract out or build your own deck. Materials alone will run you about $8/sf - give or take a few.

"Also ask about how your contractor will assemble your deck. Lag bolts will last longer than carriage bolts, for example." How is it that lags will last longer than carriage bolts? I see only the opposite as true; as the wood ages the threads of the lag start to give, whereas a bolt never gives. This is why all highway guard rails require carriage bolts rather than lag screws. Also, in building juliettes (side mounted decks) most state and county codes require carriage bolts for anchoring the ledger; lags will not suffice.

"Also ask about how your contractor will assemble your deck. Lag bolts will last longer than carriage bolts, for example." How is it that lags will last longer than carriage bolts? I see only the opposite as true; as the wood ages the threads of the lag start to give, whereas a bolt never gives. This is why all highway guard rails require carriage bolts rather than lag screws. Also, in building juliettes (side mounted decks) most state and county codes require carriage bolts for anchoring the ledger; lags will not suffice.

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