Home Improvement

How much does it cost to build a deck?

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After more than a year of spending so many hours at home, many of us have gained a deep understanding of the value of spending more time outside. If this is inspiring you to revamp your outdoor space and install a deck, it’s time to consider one key question: How much will it cost?

How much does it cost to build a deck?

All decks are not created equal. Homeowners spend between roughly $4,000 and $11,200 to build a deck, with the average cost right around $7,630, according to HomeAdvisor.

Plenty of factors can impact the overall cost to build a deck, including:

  • Whether your deck is self-installed or professionally installed
  • The complexity of the design — if there are stairs, for example, you’ll pay more
  • The type of deck material
  • Your home’s geographical location

Deck size

The bigger you want your deck to be, the bigger you should make your budget. A deck under 200 square feet could cost as little as $3,000, HomeAdvisor data shows, while a deck that’s more than 500 square feet averages a much higher $24,000, and can climb as high as $45,000.

Building permit, taxes and insurance

As with any major renovation, you might need a permit for the work. Every jurisdiction has its own requirements, and it’s important to know what they are before commencing with your deck project. HomeAdvisor pegs the permit for building a new deck somewhere between $225 and $500.

A new deck also has the potential to increase the value of your property, which is good news for anyone planning on adding a deck as an investment.

However, that increase in value can also mean an increase in property taxes. Once you know what kind of deck you want, check with your local tax assessor to factor in an estimate of the increase, which you can then account for in the overall cost to build a deck.

Be sure to call your homeowners insurance provider, too. If your home is worth more, you might need to pay a bit more to protect it.

Decking materials

What your deck is made out of plays a major role in how much your deck will cost. In fact, materials will likely make up half the total project cost. Here’s a rundown of the average price per square foot for some of the most popular construction materials:

Source: 2021 HomeAdvisor True Cost Guide
Fiberglass and composite (including vinyl and PVC) $12-$22
Aluminum $15-$20
Redwood $5-$30 (depends on grade)
Tigerwood $7-$15
Cedar $3-$7
Bamboo $3-$10

Of course, the boards aren’t the only materials. You’ll need to factor in framing and the other components that will keep your deck off the ground. Pressure-treated wood is the most budget-friendly, according to HomeAdvisor, running between $15 and $20 per square foot. Elevated concrete, on the other hand, will cost somewhere between $30 and $75 per square foot.

Keep in mind that the current market can translate to higher prices. The rush to remodel and renovate in the pandemic has contributed to a surge in the cost of wood, with lumber prices up by more than 170 percent in the past year.

Additional deck costs

Once your deck is built, you might want to outfit it with landscaping, decor and furnishings, which add to your overall project costs.

Lighting is a worthwhile addition, both for safety and ambience. Deck lights can run from $8 to $30 each, according to HomeAdvisor. Post lighting can cost considerably more, from $30 to more than $100 per piece.

If you want to enjoy your deck even on cold nights, a heater is a must. Prices vary — a high-quality post heater or wall-mounted heater is $100 to $300, HomeAdvisor reports. At the other end of the scale, a deck that gets too warm could benefit from a misting system, which can run between $1,800 and $3,100.

You’ll also need a place to kick back and enjoy the view from your new deck, so be sure to include furniture prices in your expense forecast. If you’re looking for a living room-style setup with chairs, a couch and tables, you might need to shell out $4,000, HomeAdvisor’s data shows. To save on this expense, look for seasonal deals on outdoor furniture to take advantage of retailers looking to move last year’s inventory.

Deck maintenance

In addition to the one-time installation fee, a wooden deck requires regular maintenance. Deck stain, which HomeAdvisor estimates at $30 per gallon if you do it yourself, fades over time, so you might need to refresh it annually. If you want to hire someone else to handle the work, you can expect to pay between $500 and $1,000.

Combination products for sealing and waterproofing a deck, meanwhile, cost between $20 to $40 per gallon.

Remember that decks can get dirty, too. Whether you want to do a deep-clean or need to reseal or stain, expect to pay between $150 and $400 to pressure-wash yours.

Keep in mind that skimping on these maintenance steps might save you some money in the short term, but could cost a lot more in the long run if it becomes necessary to replace a damaged deck.

How to keep costs down

Looking for ways to lower the bill for a new deck? Consider these three tips as you envision your new outdoor oasis:

  1. Keep it simple. It might be nice to add a roof for some extra shade or design a deck that wraps around your house, but those enhancements will increase the cost of your project. The fewer angles, stairs and materials you require, the fewer dollars you’ll need to spend.
  2. Think long-term. If you’re planning to stay in your home for a long time, consider the big picture when picking your materials. For example, cedar’s upfront price tag might be one of the cheapest, but it can also damage easily. Tigerwood, on the other hand, has a higher per-square-foot cost, but it can last more than 25 years. Be sure to ask your contractor for advice on materials that can stand the test of time.
  3. Do it yourself. Speaking of contractors, you could skip that step, too, which can create big savings in the labor department. You’ll need to weigh the pros and cons of dedicating a chunk of your free time versus paying someone else for their time, however — and you’ll need to feel supremely confident in your building skills.

Bottom line

A new deck can increase your living space and transform your outdoors into a fun and functional place for relaxing and entertaining.

When considering how much it costs to build a deck, it’s important to understand that expenses vary based on materials, size of the deck and any additions you want.

Work out your specific requirements first, and then shop around for competitive quotes. Home builders and contractors are busier than ever, so you’ll want to have an idea of who is available early on and how much they can help you save on materials. Contractors might be able to find better pricing than off-the-shelf at major home renovation stores, for instance.

Also, be sure to check with local authorities to get any necessary permits, which can increase the overall cost of the project, and remember to factor in additional costs such as property taxes and insurance into your budget.

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Written by
David McMillin
Contributing writer
David McMillin writes about credit cards, mortgages, banking, taxes and travel. David's goal is to help readers figure out how to save more and stress less.
Edited by
Mortgage editor