Decks add valuable outdoor living space to your home as well as increasing the home’s value. They’re a source of relaxation and another area for family gatherings and entertainment. If you have been considering adding a deck to your home, here is what you can expect to pay.

Tools required

This is one expense that can vary greatly from one person to the next. If you already have these basic tools, then you won’t have any increase expense at all. If you are need of these tools, there is a range in price based on the quality you purchase. You can also consider renting some of the larger ones to save on money or borrow them from a friend.

Saw – You will need some means to cut the wood. Whether you choose a circular saw, table saw or miter saw to do this will be up to you. Expect to pay anywhere from $100 for an inexpensive circular saw to $200 for a table or miter saw. These prices can easily double if you want a higher quality saw.

Drill – Using deck screws instead of nails will prove faster and provide you with a more stable deck. This expense can be avoided by using a hammer and nails throughout the deck. However, if you want to use screws and don’t have a drill you can expect to spend at least $100 or more.

  • Hammer
  • Tape measure
  • Carpenter’s square
  • Chalk line
  • Level

Expect to pay about $50 for these basic tools of carpentry. They will be used for many projects around the house. If you don’t have them they will definitely be welcomed and useful additions.

Permits

When adding a deck you will need a building permit issued by your local city. The permit is meant to insure that the deck is proper and safe. It should not be ignored as constructing a deck without a permit can leave you facing the fines and the possibility of having to completely remove the deck. Permits are free in some cities and can run up to $200 in others. Call your local city government offices for more information about permits in your area.

The Decking

Wood Choices – Choosing the decking material can be a challenge. Homeowners can choose treated wood for the top boards or you can go with composite decking. Composite decking has become increasingly popular over the years. Here are some of the pros and con’s to help you make a decision.

Pros

  • It will not splinter or warp over the years.
  • The color will fade, but it will not turn grey.
  • It requires only occasional cleaning and will never need to be stained or painted.
  • It’s available in different grains and a range of colors, so it will look like wood.
  • There are, however, a few drawbacks to composite decking.
  • Available in longer lengths so you can avoid seams in the decking.
  • It lasts far longer than treated wood, so you will get many more years out of your deck.
  • Environmentally friendly

Cons

  • It is more flexible than wood so it requires more joists in the structure to prevent sagging.
  • It requires different hardware that is more expensive.
  • It can be scratched by the furniture moving on it.
  • Can be hot under your feet in the sun.
  • It will increase the price of your deck substantially.

Some people will tell you that composite decking is always better, but it’s really a personal choice. Most of the decision will boil down to whether or not you are willing to do the annual maintenance required for a traditional wood deck.

Price for Lumber

The prices listed here assume a deck that is only 16 feet by 10 feet. This would create 160 square feet of deck area. You will also need to purchase some extra boards for scrap, just in case. Using treated lumber that is 5/4” x 6” x 16’ will run a little over $300. The same number of boards in a good quality composite lumber will cost just under $800.

The Support System and Extras

The structure will typically be built using traditional treated lumber. Check with your local building codes to find out how close joists must be and what other requirements the city will have for your deck. However, you can expect to pay at least $300 in lumber to build the basic structure for your deck. If you choose composite decking you can expect this number to rise to $400.

Hardware

Use nails and you can save money on the hardware and the tools. However, nails can pop and the deck may become squeaky over time. A better choice are special deck screws that will not rust and cause streaks in the wood. Regardless of which decking is used, the screws will run $30 for a 5-pound box. Expect to buy at least 2 boxes of screws to do a lumber deck and 3 boxes for a composite deck.

Brackets

You can work around using brackets in the structure, but the brackets will make the project go faster and help keep things lined up nicely. The galvanized hangars are inexpensive, only costing about $1 a piece. For a wood deck, add about $15 to the overall cost. If you are building a composite deck add about $20.

Concrete or gravel

Your support posts must be placed lower than the frost line. In many areas, this places the wood 3 feet below ground level. Some building codes require that the posts be set on concrete or encased in concrete. Others allow homeowners to just pour gravel around the posts for drainage and safety. Either way, add about $30 to your budget for the materials.

You can expect to pay a grand total of about $1000 for a traditional wood deck with no railing. If you love the idea of composite decking you should allow a budget of at least $1600. Adding a railing to your deck can add anywhere from $300 to $1000 to the price, depending on if you go with wood, composite or vinyl. Here are some links you can visit to learn how to build your new deck.

References

Lowes – This site offers a great deal of information that a beginner would enjoy.
Ideas for Deck Designs – Find ideas for decks and useful tips for your deck construction.

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