Average Costs to Build a Deck: How to Reduce Cost


A deck is a beautiful addition to your house, offering an area to engage visitors, eat, prepare food, and unwind. A deck resembles a patio in many ways, the major difference being that a deck is built from composite materials or wood and is generally elevated. However, how much does it usually cost to build a deck, and how can it be reduced?

The average cost to build a deck is around $30-$35 per square foot for installation and materials, such as composite materials or wood. Composite decking materials are made of wood fiber, like sawdust, wood chips, and plastic. Meanwhile, wood decking materials include cedar, pine, and redwood.

This article will discuss several factors that determine the costs and materials needed to build a deck. If you want to find out the average costs to build a deck and ways to reduce it, read on.

How Much Does It Cost to Build a 10’x16′ Deck?

A 10’x16′ deck is 160 square feet. The cost of building this would be $4,800-$5,600 for labor and the material cost. The wooden deck materials cost between $2,790 to $3,422 alone.

What Is the Cost of Building a 12’x12′ Deck?

The average cost for a 12’x12′ deck is between $2,160 to $5,040 for 144 square feet of deck space. Small does not have to mean boring. A 12’x12′ deck offers enough space for an outdoor furniture set. You can also hang with your friend on this deck over a glass of beer.

What Is the Cost of Building a 20’x20′ Deck?

The larger the deck, the costlier it will be. If you want to build a 20’x20′ deck, you will have to pay between $30 and $35 per square foot. The 20’x 20′ deck would cost you $12,000-$14,000 for labor and materials for 400 square feet of deck space.

Deck SizeAverage Cost
10′ x 16′$4,800 – $5,600
12′ x 12′$2,160 – $5,040
20′ x 20′$12,000 – $14,000

Cost of Lumber to Construct a Deck

Lumber, also known as timber, is great for building decks. The cost of lumber ranges from $6 to $8 per square foot. However, if you are using composite materials and good quality hardwoods, you will have to pay between $20 to $35 per square foot.

Labor Cost to Construct a Deck

Depending upon the decking materials used, size, and conditions of the area, you will have to pay between $8 and $22 per square foot for the labor cost to construct a deck.

However, you will have to pay more for woods that are difficult to work with, such as Tigerwood and Ipe.

Cost to Build a DIY Deck

If you are constructing a 10’x10′ deck, you will have to spend around $700 for the decking materials. However, if you hire a deck designer to do the work, you will have to pay about $2,200. If you use pressure-treated wood to construct a deck of 16’x16′, you will have to shell out $1,500. On the other hand, a professional will charge $6,400 for the same work.

If you choose to use premium materials to construct a deck yourself, you will have to spend about $5,100. Premium materials include materials such as Tigerwood, Ipe, or Trex. On the other hand, a deck designer would charge $13,620 for materials and labor.

Building a deck yourself can save you some money, but not everyone’s up for that amount of work. To see what local professionals charge in your area, check out HomeAdvisor DecksOpens in a new tab.. I’ve been able to find some great companies on there.

Costs of Materials to Construct a Deck

The cost of constructing a deck is also affected by the materials you choose. Given below are some common materials and how much they cost.

Trex Decking Cost

If you choose to use Trex decking materials to construct your deck, you will have to pay between $8 to $20 per square foot.

Pros

  • Insects, mold, and mildew do not affect Trex boards and are impervious to staining and fading
  • Trex stays fade-free and stain-free for 25 years
  • What is so great about Trex boards is that they will not splinter, crack, or warp
  • Decks built from Trex do not require any treatment for insects

Cons

  • You cannot recolor or refinish Trex boards
  • Trex materials are very costly

Composite Decking Cost

The average cost of composite decking is between $23 and $38 per square foot installed and between $10 and $15 per square foot for just the materials. If you want to install a 12’x24’ composite deck with railings, you will have to shell out between $5,821 and $10,826.

Composite decking is madeOpens in a new tab. of plastic and wood fiber. The plastic components can be recycled plastic materials or virgin plastic materials. Virgin plastic is a resin that is produced without any recycled materials. Since composite decking is made from recycled materials, it is an eco-friendlier option.

Pros

  • Does not need to be stained or sealed 
  • Come in many different colors
  • Does not splinter or rot 
  • Requires little maintenance

Cons

  • Composite cannot be sanded. If the composite gets dinged, it is hard to restore to its original state.

Here’s a quick video about some more pros and cons of composite decking:

Wood Deck Costs

The cost of natural wood is between $3 and $15 per square foot. However, it is important to note that decks built from natural wood need regular maintenance, such as sealing and staining. Regular deck staining prevents sun damage, improves appearance, and prevents water from seeping into the deck.

On the other hand, deck sealing extends the life of your beautiful deck. Other than that, it protects your deck from sunlight exposure and moisture.

 Woods that are commonly used for decking are:

  • Tigerwood
  • Ipe
  • Redwood
  • Bamboo
  • Cedar

Tigerwood

One of the costlier hardwoods used to construct a deck is Tigerwood. It costs between $6-$15 per square foot.

Pros

  • Tigerwood is resistant to decay and rot
  • It can last up to 30 years without any preservatives
  • It is highly durable

Cons

  • It is expensive

Ipe

Ipe is a costly Brazilian hardwood, and it costs between $10 and $15 per square foot. A good thing about this material is that it is impervious to rot and mold. The lifespan of Ipe is more than 40 years.

Pros

  • Ipe will not dent or scratch like other types of wood
  • Ipe needs little maintenance

Cons

  • It needs special tools to install
  • Ipe is costlier than standard pressure-treated wood

Redwood

Redwood decking costs $7 per square foot. If not maintained properly, redwood can get damaged by the sun and grow mold. Therefore, you should clean your deck regularly.

Pros

  • You can easily stain or paint it
  • It is impervious to fire and pests
  • It is durable and does not warp easily

Cons

  • Needs regular maintenance

Bamboo

Bamboo decking is inexpensive and costs $3 per square foot. However, it needs yearly maintenance to keep it in good condition.

Pros

  • It is highly stable
  • It is resistant to decay and insects
  • It can be stained and sealed easily

Cons

  • Needs some maintenance
  • It does not hold up well to the rainy season

Cedar

Cedar is resistant to rot, insects, and weathering. Installing cedar decking will cost you $4 to $8 per square foot. It needs annual maintenance tasks such as staining, sealing, and sanding your deck.

Pros

  • Cedar is inexpensive
  • Resistant to weathering, rot, and wood-destroying insects such as termites
  • You can easily seal and stain the material
  • It does not warp

Cons

  • Cedar decking can be easily dented or scratched
  • Needs yearly maintenance

Here’s a cool, in-depth, video that pits some common deck boards against each other in a deck test:

Pressure Treated Deck Cost

If you want to use a pressure-treated wood on your deck, you will have to pay $6 per square foot for materials, or between $12 and $18 per square foot for labor.

Advantages

  • Pressure-treated woods are impervious to rot, insects, and mold
  • They are cheap

Disadvantages  

  • Usually, low-grade pine or fir are used to make pressure-treated wood. These low-grade materials tend to crack and bend over an extended period, which creates a continuous need for a strict maintenance schedule.
  • When pressure-treated wood comes in contact with water, galvanized screws, deck hangers, joists, and fasteners used in building the deck will start to corrode. Failure to repair will cause further damage to the structure of the deck.
  • If you use pressure-treated wood to construct your deck, you need to regularly maintain your deck by sealing and staining the wood.

Cost to Build Deck Stairs

A deck that has stairs raises the value of your house. In addition to this, the stairs are stunning to look at and offer access from the garden’s deck. If you want to add 48″ wide stairs to your deck, you could spend up to $2,000. The cost per stair would be $100. You should know that the width of the staircase should be at least 36 inches (91.44cm).

The materials to construct a set of steps will cost between $100 and $500. However, you can save on the cost of labor by doing the work yourself.

Cost to Install Deck Railing

Installation of a 10-foot deck railing will cost you around $925. Railings add safety and style to your deck. For a 10-foot section, materials can cost between $150 and $600. It is worth knowing that some installers charge based on square footage. And labor costs about $30 per linear foot or $70/hour.

However, it is important to note that prices vary with the materials used. While composite and vinyl materials are pocket-friendly, glass is the most expensive material. The total cost also varies based on the height of the structure, location, and design complexity.

Cost of Metal, Iron or Stainless-Steel Railings

Installing stainless-steel railings will cost you about $80 per linear foot. For your information, steel is a highly durable material. It is worth knowing that the railing made from steel is reliable. Apart from this, stainless steel is impervious to rust, which makes it a good option for deck railings.

On the other hand, installing wrought iron railings will cost you around $130 per linear foot. Wrought iron is a durable material that can withstand rain, snow, and other weather conditions. Wrought iron railings can last longer when they are regularly maintained.

Glass Deck Railing

The cost of glass deck railing is between $150 and $850 per linear foot. And the labor cost is $75 an hour. The glass railing systems are attractive, flexible, and viable design solutions. Not to mention, they are durable and safe. They provide a way to ensure safety on decks, preventing a fall.

Plus, glass railings protect from the external elements. They act as a barrier against snowfall, rain, and winds.

Cable Deck Railing

Installing cable railings for your deck will cost you around $90 per linear foot, including labor. Compared to other options for railings, cable railings provide a contemporary and stylish look. What is more, they are built from materials that are durable and strong.

Cable deck railing systems include a composite, vinyl, aluminum, or wood post that holds up a metal cable. The metal cable runs from post to post. Other than that, cable railings are nature-friendly. Animals can fly by without any difficulties.

Trex Railing

The average cost to install a Trex brand railing is $60 per linear foot. And the cost of labor is $30 per foot. Their products include:

  • composite wood-like railings
  • powder-coated aluminum
  • composite

Composite Deck Railing

If you want to install a composite deck railing, you will have to spend $50 per linear foot. Composite deck railing is easy to install and long-lasting. Apart from this, it is impervious to insects and does not split or rot. It resists water damage from snow or rain.

The best thing about composite deck railing is that it does not need sealing or painting.

Additionally, composite deck railings come in many different colors to complement your home’s exterior. They are great for outdoor use because they retain their color.

Aluminum Railing

Installing aluminum deck railings costs around $80 per linear foot. And the cost of materials is around $50 per linear foot. Aluminum railings are beautiful, reliable, and need little maintenance. They are resistant to rust or corrosion and can withstand tough weather, including UV rays, rain, and snow. What is more, they do not warp, shrink, or twist.

What is great about aluminum railings is that they are easy to install, versatile, and strong.

Vinyl Railing

The cost of 10 feet of a vinyl railing is $20-$40 per foot. These railings have become popular nowadays due to their low-maintenance designs and durability. The cost of materials is about $300, and the cost of labor is $50 per hour.

Vinyl railings do not rust and need very little maintenance. Vinyl railings can look good for years without any maintenance, and do not require painting or staining every few years. Vinyl railings are resistant to insects and rot.

They do not fade over time because they are resistant to UV damage.

Wood Deck Railings

The average cost of wood deck railings is $75 per linear foot, including installation.

Types of wood railing include:

  • Redwood
  • Ipe
  • Mahogany
  • Cedar
  • Pine

Here’s a cool slide show video of different deck railings to give you some ideas of the different types available:

What Is the Cost of Replacing a Deck?

So, when should you consider deck replacement? You should replace your deck completely if you find that it needs extensive repair. Generally, decks should be replaced if they require significant repair and are over 10 years old.

Replacing the complete deck can cost you $25 to $75 per square foot for composite lumber and $8 to $50 per square foot for pressure-treated wood.

If railings or boards are replaced, they will have to be sealed and stained to match the rest of the deck. Depending on the materials used and local rates, staining a deck can cost between $0.50 and $7 per square foot, and sealing a deck can cost between $1 and $5 per square foot.

With proper maintenance, a wood deck can last 25 to 40 years before it needs replacement. However, it is important to note that not maintaining the deck decreases its lifetime down to 10 to 15 years.

How to Reduce Deck Building Costs?

Building a deck with a tight budget is doable once the following tips are put into consideration.

Seal Your Deck

Pressure-treated wood decks and well-built wood decks need sealing and protection. It is best to reseal your deck once every year.

The cost of sealing a deck is cheaper than replacing the entire thing.

When to Seal: Sprinkle Test

The sprinkle test is carried out to check if the deck needs to be sealed. Sprinkle some water on your deck. If it beadsOpens in a new tab. up, wait a couple days and try again. It is time to seal if the water absorbs into the wood deck.

So, what type of seal should you use? There are many options to choose from when it comes to sealing your deck. You can opt for a solid sealer, semi-transparent sealer, or clear sealer. Solid stains and sealers are available in many different colors to completely cover your deck’s wood grain.

Semi-transparent sealers are designed to protect the wood from cracking under sunlight. They can also withstand snow and rain. A clear sealer protects your deck and preserves its natural color.

Use Deck Blocks Instead of Pouring Concrete

Several deck plans require pouring concrete for deck footings. People who do not have concrete tools will have to buy the pre-mixed concrete in bags or purchase the cement and rent a mixer.

Deck blocks that are placed properly on a gravel bed offer sturdy support. An average deck requires one deck block for every four-square feet. And the cost of one deck block is only $10 each.

Deck blocks are usually seven inches in height. And they are intended for decks that are close to the ground.

For more info, check out our Building A Deck With Blocks article.

Buy Wood in the Milled Lengths

In the case of pressure-treated lumber, every cut offers an opening for water to penetrate and waste wood. This affects the preservation of the wood and may shorten the life of the deck.

It is a good idea to purchase wood in the milled lengths as it reduces the deck-building time and saves your money.

Reduce Amenities

You can keep the cost of a deck down by not including a fireplace, an outdoor fire pit, roof, and other amenities. In addition to this, you should not put on costly rails if your deck is very near to the ground.

Do not run electrical outlets outside and install solar-powered lights instead. Solar-powered lights are less costly than their electric counterparts.

Do As Much Work As You Can Yourself

Labor is costly. So, do as much work as you can yourself to keep costs down. Woods that are of standard sizes do not need cutting. Do not set posts and footings. Instead, use precast piers.

Use standard sizes of lumber (wood) to construct your deck. Decks.comOpens in a new tab. is a website that offers free resources and plans for a DIY deck project. You can use these free plans to build a deck with little help.

Use Inexpensive Decking Materials

Deck materials come in all price ranges from inexpensive to premium. It is worth knowing that woods that are not treated are inexpensive and need yearly maintenance. Use plywood sheets in place of expensive planks. You can cover plywood sheets with many weather-resistant materials.

Properly cared pressure-treated pine wood will last for years. You can stain or paint them to imitate expensive woods. A deck built from this decking material will last approximately 20 years, with proper maintenance, before succumbing to insects and environmental elements.

Choose the Best Time to Build Your Deck

The best time to build a deck is when the season is over. You should schedule your deck construction in the offseason (from November to March). You will be happy to know that many deck installers offer discounts when their work is not as high in demand.

Plus, they will also be willing to negotiate on the price of building materials during the off-season. You can save a lot of money by choosing to construct your deck in the winter or fall months.

Build a Simple Deck

Decks can be simple or complex. You should know that a complex deck is more expensive than a basic design. You can save money when constructing a deck by avoiding a complex design.

For your information, a single-level deck is easy to construct and is inexpensive. If you have a few outdoor needs and a small garden, then a flat deck is perfect for you. A single-level deck can be quickly built because it does not need several specializations. It gives you the biggest space for your money if you do not want to spend much.

You can avoid spending too much money on building a deck by knowing the number of guests you have and the kinds of events you host.

Purchase Accessories in Bulk

Purchasing in bulk means that you purchase large quantities of an item at one time. You will be surprised to know that you can save a lot of money by purchasing accessories, such as nails and screws, in bulk.

Additional Considerations and Costs

  • Inform your insurance company of any improvements to your home to ensure that you are insured properly. A deck’s added value can increase your homeowners’ insurance in a few cases. Several homeowners’ insurance policies cover a deck’s replacement if it suffers damage due to fire or windstorm.
  • Constructing a deck can raise your property taxes because it is regarded as a property improvement.
  • It is best to collect estimates before signing a contract. Many deck designers offer free estimates. Choose the moderately-priced option once you get the estimates.
  • A building permit will cost you $430, depending on the area. However, not all regions of the country need a permit for a deck. To determine whether a building permit is needed in your area, contact your local building permit department.
  • A deck can be a DIY project if you know how to build a deck. You should choose a design that you can follow easily. You can also take professional help to have certain things done.
  • After a while, your deck might begin to look dingy and need pressure washing to bring back its clean look. Pressure washing averages $100 per 300 square feet. Decks built from wood often need the reapplication of a stain or water repellant to protect their surfaces.

Your deck’s cost depends on the deck size, decking materials used, and whether you hire a deck installer or construct it yourself.

Some decking materials are costlier than others. Therefore, the price of the deck will be affected by the decking material you choose. Apart from this, adding extras such as stairs, railing, and roof needs extra material and time to be added to the final cost.

Also, a well-preserved deck lasts longer, looks great, and increases the property value. On the other hand, a damaged deck can be dangerous and a massive eyesore. Moisture and the sun’s harmful rays pose threats to your wood deck, causing unwanted cracking, warping, and splintering as the years go by.

Whether your deck is built from redwood, fir, or cedar, you can use preservation techniques to help your outdoor living area last longer.

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Robert Sampson

I'm Robert Sampson and I live in Colorado where I spend a lot of time in the backyard with my family either grilling, playing games and sports, or working on a project to make our backyard a better place to be.

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