A deck provides a great area to sit, relax, and enjoy your yard, and you can add stylish storage options. However, if you’re not sure what the cost to build a deck is, you could be putting your plan off because you think that your budget can’t handle it. The truth is, there is a slightly wide price range, and the price will really vary depending on whether you want a professional to do it or if you’re going to DIY it yourself. The materials and labor costs around 50% of your budget, so this is one of the first decisions you have to make.
The average cost to build a deck is $7,677. It has a price range that starts at $4,153 and goes up to $11,202. The average cost per square foot ranges between $30 and $60. To put it in perspective, say you wanted to build a 16 by 20-foot deck that includes railings, posts, footing, and balusters, and you want to have a bench built-in for storage. You could pay around $16,000 for the finished product. The wood for your deck will average right around $13,000. When you add the composite materials required to finish the project, it’ll bring the price up to around $16,000.
Maybe you want to add a deck to the second story of your home, or you have a unique design. These situations will add between 30% and 60% to the cost per square foot. This works out to an additional $8 to $20 per square foot on top of the base range. The budget for the cost to build a deck will depend on several factors like the building materials, location, design, size, and any extras you want to have. You’ll also want to plan for any additions like a pond, outdoor kitchen, or entertainment area.
If you’re not sure what goes into determining the cost to build a deck, this is for you. We’ll outline everything you need to keep in mind when you create your budget to ensure you can afford your new deck.
The cost to build a deck can quickly add up if you’re not careful, and this is why you want a comprehensive plan before you start your build. Deck Builds by T.K.F. Handy Construction / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Average Cost to Build a Deck by Square Foot
The average cost to build a deck by square foot depends on which type of deck you want to create. Do you want a simple entry level deck or do you want something that uses premium materials? An entry level deck is nice on a budget, but you could spend more later repainting and patching holes because these materials don’t stand up to the elements or heavy usage well.
If you want to use basic materials, you’ll spend roughly $15 per square foot. Yes, it’s cheaper up front, but you’ll put more into maintaining it. On the other end of the spectrum, the cost to build a deck with premium-grade materials will cost around $35 per square foot. It costs more right away, but it can help your deck last longer with less maintenance from you.
The type of materials, complexity of the design, and regional pricing differences will also factor in. If you want a more elaborate and larger deck, you’ll need to spend more money then you would if you wanted a small platform.
The Cost to Build a Deck – Material Breakdown
The most popular deck building materials in the United States have a price range of $6 to $8 per square foot. Although there are dozens of materials to choose from, the top three are hardwood, pressure-treated wood, and recycled composite. Every type of material has pros and cons associated with it.
Aluminum or Metal
Aluminum or most metal materials for decking is slightly more expensive, and it can cost between $15 and $20 per square foot. However, most of these metal decks are gapless, and this means that you get a seamless, waterproof area underneath for storage. They’re lightweight, and this makes them an excellent space that can double as a roof for your outdoor kitchen, patio, or carport. They won’t rust, and they don’t twist or warp over time like many wood products do, and this can help take the sting out of the upfront cost to build a deck.
However, aluminum and metal decking is on the expensive side of the spectrum for price. It’s also hard to change the colors because paint doesn’t adhere to it very well. Since it’s bare metal, it’s easy to scratch or dent it, and these are hard to get back out.
Pressure Treated Decking
On average, the cost to build a deck out of pressure treated wood costs $6 per square foot for the materials. When you add labor, this goes up to between $12 and $18 for every square foot. A large majority of decks in the United States use pressure treated wood because it gets made to be more resistant to rot, insects, and mold problems.
However, manufacturers traditionally use cheap wood like low-grade pine or fir that will crack and warp over time unless you stick to a strict maintenance schedule. Another problem is that any metal that you use to create your deck like joists, fasteners, aluminum flashing, galvanized screws, nails, or deck hangers will corrode when the wood meets water. If you don’t fix it, your deck will become unstable. You’ll have to make a point to routinely sand, seal, and stain or paint your deck to prevent it from being dangerous.
The cost to build a deck will depend on the materials, but it’ll also depend on whether or not you do it yourself or hire a professional since labor costs take up more than half of the cost. NH Deck Weekend Build by Josh Greenstein / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Many people like to use natural wood to build a deck, and it adds to the cost to build a deck between $3 and $15 for every square foot, and the average falls between $6 and $8. They are a beautiful choice for many different homes, but you’re committing yourself to a regular staining and sealing process to keep it looking nice. The most common wood types for decking include:
Bamboo is the most cost-effective deck material available when you’re figuring out the cost to build a deck, and it runs between $3 and $10 for every square foot. However, this is a grass instead of a wood. You want to get products from sustainable farms, and it’s a very durable choice. This is an environmentally-friendly material that you can recycle, and it resists rot and mold with water. You also get a very consistent grain without any knots for a nice look.
You will want to seal it once a year to keep it looking nice, and it can be very difficult to install on your own. It’s also not a good choice for northern climates as the fluctuating weather conditions can cause the bamboo to weaken and break down faster.
Cedar typically costs between $4 and $8 for every square foot, and the cost will depend on the grade. This is a natural softwood that you can get untreated or treated. A lot of the time, you leave your cedar planks untreated because it has a natural resistance to rot and weathering.
It’s one of the most cost-effective materials available for the cost to build a deck, and it has a natural resistance to rot, weathering, and wood-destroying insects. Also, it’s easy to seal and stain, and it won’t warp as it ages. However, cedar can scratch or dent easily as it is a softwood, so you’ll have to make a point to maintain it yearly by sanding, staining, and sealing it.
For just the materials, you’ll pay between $10 and $15 per square foot, and composite decking prices go up to $23 to $38 per square foot when you include labor costs. To install a 12 by 24-foot composite deck with railings, you’ll spend between $5,800 and $10,800. If you get recycled composite, it looks like real wood, and it’s seeing a huge popularity boost. You can get it made from PVC, polypropylene, or polyethylene. This is one of the more expensive options, but it requires very little maintenance and it’ll never rot or splinter. THere are no chemicals in it to corrode your metal fasteners, and you won’t have to seal or stain it. Finally, it’s available in several colors, and you can get hollow core planks for audio cables or rope lights to run through.
Composite wood will acquire dings over time, and it’s very difficult to get them out once they’re in the deck material since you can’t sand it. It’ll also feel warmer under your feet when the weather starts to get hotter outside than real wood would feel.
Better known is Ironwood, this is a Brazilian hardwood that will cost you between $10 and $15 a square foot to purchase and install. However, this is a very good reason for this higher cost. For one, it has a life expectancy of over 40 years, and it’s three times harder than oak. This means that it won’t dent or scratch like other types of wood will to keep it looking nice. There is very little maintenance with this type of wood, but you will have to oil it once a year to keep it looking nice.
Since this is such a hard wood, you will have to invest in special tools that are powerful enough to drill into it to install it properly. Additionally, this type of wood is up to three times more expensive than standard pressure-treated wood options, and this adds to your cost to build a deck.
Tigerwood is an African and Brazilian hardwood that runs $7 to $15 for every square foot you buy. This wood gets its name from the striped pattern. It’s a little cheaper to get than Ipe, but you get a different look with a lot of the same qualities. It resists different weather conditions very well, and it can easily last over 25 years with the correct care. You will have to seal and stain it once every year or two to keep it looking nice.
However, you will pay more for labor because you need specialized tools to drill the holes to install this deck. It’s not always sustainably farmed either. Finally, you need stainless steel fasteners for it, and this can drive the cost to build a deck up.
Trex decking materials are mid-grade for expense, and you can expect to pay between $8 and $20 for every square foot. To build a 24-foot by 12-foot deck, it will cost you anywhere from $4,200 and $10,800 with both labor costs and materials. This type of wood is very naturally resistant to staining and fading, and it also resists termites, mildew, and mold to make it last longer. You won’t have to apply any insect treatments, and you won’t stain, waterproof, or seal it. It also comes with a 25-year warranty.
Trex is one material that you can’t recolor or restrain, so it’s not possible to paint it to change it up after a few years. Instead, you’d have to install a whole new deck. The materials are also on the more expensive end of the spectrum if you choose it, and this increases your cost to build a deck.
California’s redwood is the most common type of natural wood you see used in deck building. To build this type of deck, you’ll spend between $15 and $21 for very square foot with labor costs. For just the materials, you’ll spend around $7 for every square foot. This type of wood is very nice for painting and staining as it takes both well, and it has a natural resistance to fire and pests. Redwood has a very long life span, and it won’t warp easily with exposure to the elements.
As with a lot of deck materials, you will have to perform routine maintenance to ensure that it doesn’t retain sun damage or allow mold to grow. For the best results, make a point to stain and seal it once every year or every other year with a high-quality product.
How Labor Costs Impact Your Cost to Build a Deck
Labor costs are one huge cost to build a deck factor. However, professionals can be less expensive in the long run because they’re prepared to fix any issues that come up. DSC0716_ep by Eric Parker / CC BY-NC 2.0
We mentioned earlier that the labor costs for your deck make up a significant portion of your overall expense. This is because most professional installers will charge anywhere from $15 to $35 to install every square foot of your new deck. This is why more elaborate setups cost more. They take the people more time to complete. Additionally, if your wood is difficult to work with like Tigerwood or Ipe, expect to pay more because you need specialized tools to drill into it to install it.
It’s a good idea to shop around and get at least two or three quotes from local companies when you’re trying to figure out the cost to build a deck. Companies charge different rates, and the goal is to find a professional company that will fall inside of your budget for your design and chosen material type.
Adding Additional Options Can Increase Your Project Costs
The nice thing about figuring out the cost to build a deck is that you can take time to customize it exactly how you want it. Maybe you want an outdoor fire pit and entertainment area, or you want a space for your hot tub to sit. Whatever you want, knowing a price will help to keep your budget realistic.
If you want to add a fire pit or a fireplace to your deck, it can cost between $200 to $500 if you want to buy one from the store and install it. If you want a more high-end built-in solution that is custom to your deck, it can cost between $2,700 and $6,500. Fireplaces start on the smaller side with a self-inclosed metal structure that burns wood, and it has metal-mesh panels to allow heat to escape. For $1,000, you can get a firebox that only lets heat out through the front. Finally, the $1,400 to $6,500 fireplaces are fireplaces that get mounted directly into vertical, tall structures with a chimney. They come in gas or wood-burning designs, but they increase your cost to build a deck substantially.
Adding a hot tub directly into your cost to build a deck deck will cost you between $3,000 and $8,000. The features, size, and model you pick will impact the price. Other factors that come into play include the number of jets you want per person, how many people you want to fit, type of inner shell, the product’s lifespan, colored LED lighting, drink holders, and other optional features. The entry level prices fluctuate between $2,000 and $4,000, but the high-end luxury models can cost between $13,000 and $15,000 to install.
One fun patio idea is to add it straight to your deck. You can get a pre-built kit you install for around $900. If you want to create a custom sunroom and fully enclose your deck, be prepared to spend between $8,100 and $18,700. You can fully or partially enclose your new deck while spending around $70 per square foot. This is one of the more expensive additional costs to build a deck on the list.
When it comes to the cost to build a deck, adding planter boxes is relatively cheap. It’ll cost between $80 and $150 per planter box. Rectangular boxes that are narrow or wide come in plastic composite, metal, and wood. Deeper and taller planter boxes will hold less, but you can get them for around 15% less than the bigger ones. Wood is usually the cheapest option, followed by plastic and metal.
Depending on which materials you use to build your deck, it costs around $20 per linear foot to install a railing. Normally, a railing will only run along three sides of the deck because one is up against the house itself. Pressure-treated pine costs roughly $15 per linear foot, redwood is $19 per linear foot, and recycled composite lumber is around $36 per linear foot to install. For many people, a railing is a nice safety feature to have, especially if they have pets or kids. So, it’s worth the additional cost to build a deck.
Screening in your deck is one of the lower costs to build a deck. To screen in an existing deck, you’ll spend an average of $4.50 for every square foot. So, for a small area, you’ll spend around $600. A larger wrap-around design can cost around $3,510. You can also install a privacy netting screen if you’re on a budget. They are usually three feet high and around fifteen feet long. Each panel can cost around $20, and you have to use deck posts to tie it to the ends.
Maybe you want built-in deck seating. You can add your own bench seating options if you don’t have the budget to have your installer create custom and unique seating. To add waterproof bench style seating that comes pre-manufactured, you’ll expect to pay between $350 and $1,100. To have an L-shaped bench seat designed and installed, it can increase your cost to build a deck by $2,000 to $5,000.
On average, adding stairs to your deck will increase your cost to build a deck around $150 more. The price depends on the number of steps you need. For a rough estimate, add $40 for each additional step you need. Stairs can make a great transition from your yard up to your deck. Depending on how large your yard is, you can get away with one set. However, larger yards may make more sense to have dual stairs for one on each end of the structure. If you need concrete footing for each set up stairs you want, expect to pay $50 plus excavation costs.
Costs to Repair and Maintain Your Deck
How much it’s going to cost you to repair or maintain your deck are important things to remember when you’re deciding on which materials you want at your budget point. The cost to build a deck is only the start, and it’s essential that you keep general maintenance and repairs in mind. If you maintain it, your deck can last between 25 and 40 years. If not, it will shorten the lifespan to 10 and 15 years.
- Replace or Repair Damaged Deck Boards – $1,280 on average
- Fix Loose Deck Stairs – $150 to $300 on average
- Replace Missing Deck Nails – $5 to $10 on average
- Get Rid of Rot, Mildew, or Mold – $200 to $50 on average
- Repair a Damaged Deck Railing – $400 to $500 on average
- Seal and Stain – Around $3.50 per square foot
- Routine Pest and Termite Treatment – $100 to $300 on average
Staining a Deck Cost
You’ll pay between $1 and $3 per square foot to sand, stain, and seal your deck each year or every other year. If you only have a small area to repair, you can get away with buying stain and sealant and just doing this small area. Stain comes in latex, oil, or acrylic latex in semi-opaque or opaque styles. It covers around 400 square feet, and it’ll cost between $30 and $45 for every gallon. Wood finish comes in waterproofing or transparent finishes, and it covers around 400 square feet. You’ll pay between $16 and $80 for a gallon, so this isn’t a huge strain on your cost to build a deck budget.
Sealing a Deck Cost
Another cost to build a deck and maintain it is sealing it. You want to reseal your deck once a year, usually in the spring. On average, a wood sealer will cost around $20 for every gallon, and you can apply it by yourself. Wood preservative-type sealer covers between 100 and 300 square feet, and it costs around $24 to $29 per gallon. Wood water clear sealer costs between $16 and $18 per gallon, and it’ll cover 225 to 325 square feet of sanded wood. If you have rough sawn wood, it’ll only cover 125 square feet.
Deck Removal Costs
The average deck removal costs range between $5 and $10 for every square foot you have. This cost range depends on the condition of your old deck and your deck size. The prices will go up if you have built-in seating, a multi-level design, or a railing. If you had a 12 by 12 deck that is 144 square feet, expect to pay between $720 and $1,400 to remove it.
Tearing out your deck is a lower cost, no matter the size. Also, its easier for you do perform this project by yourself rather than having to hire someone to do it for you. deck3 by Scott Fledstein / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Where to Find Professional Deck Builders
If you’re not a DIYer and you want a more specific cost to build a deck, hire a professional. You can find a professional for your local area here:
Frequently Asked Questions About the Cost to Build a Deck
1. Do you need a permit to build a deck?
Most cities require you to have a permit before you start building a deck, no matter the size. For example, in Madison, Wisconsin, you have to go to the local city hall and apply for a zoning permit. You also have to go to the Building Inspection Permit Counter and submit your plans. Finally, you’ll pay for your permit. As long as your deck is under 420 square feet, the permit is $35.
2. How much would you pay for a deck extension?
Maybe you already have a deck and you want to extend it without inflating your entire cost to build a deck. If so, the cost to build a deck will range from $15 to $50 per square foot. The type of materials, design complexity, and the location all play into the costs.
3. Is using sustainable woods a cheaper option?
Unlike what many people think, using sustainable woods may not be much cheaper. Sustainable farms do go a long way in guaranteeing that you get healthy wood for your project. However, they can be just as expensive as other choices, especially if you get hardwoods like redwood.
There are several factors that go into figuring out the cost to build a deck. Now that we’ve outlined them, you should have a good idea on your cost to build a deck, depending on the style, materials, size, extras, and upkeep you’ll have to perform. If you get it right, you can keep your cost to build a deck down while getting a functional and beautiful addition to your home.
Jen is a master gardener, interior designer and home improvement expert. She has completed many home improvement, decor and remodeling projects with her family over the past 10 years on their 4,500 sf Victorian house. She is also a passionate farmer who keeps goats, chickens, turkeys cows and pigs on her farm, and an instructor for her community’s Organic and Sustainable Farming project.