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How Will a New Deck Impact Your Bank Account?

Are you dreaming of a new deck? It’s one of those projects that has a certain excitement for homeowners. More functional square footage, higher curb appeal, a better place to entertain guests—there are any number of reasons to consider investing in this popular outdoor feature.

But let’s be honest: Cost is an issue. Owning and maintaining a home is expensive already. Once you start talking about renovations and additions that could add up to thousands of dollars, you have to be careful. You have to make sure you’re getting into a wise investment, rather than getting into something you’ll regret down the line.

On average, American homeowners spend over $7,500 to plan, build and finish a new outdoor deck. That’s the cost of a decent used vehicle.

Is it possible to come in lower than this? What if your project goes badly—can the costs increase even more? Here are a few important factors that will determine the final cost of a new deck.

Patio and garden of family home at summer

What’s your square footage, how complicated is your design, and what’s the surrounding terrain?

It should come as no surprise that increasing the square footage of your deck will also increase the overall cost. Deck builders often charge by the square foot for installation, and materials are also commonly sold per square foot.

The next obvious factor is the design of your deck. A flat, simple surface with no custom features will have a lower price tag than a deck with multiple tiers and built-in features such as an outdoor kitchen or fire pit.

The terrain is also a consideration. Your contractor will use special methods in order to secure the foundation of the deck, depending on how high it is off the ground. Generally speaking, most decks will involve auguring holes in the ground, filling them with concrete, and setting the deck’s support beams into the concrete. In many cases, the terrain may also have to be graded and leveled, which adds to the cost.

Which materials?

Some homeowners use natural softwood or hardwood as their chosen deck material. Decks made from natural wood tend to come at a lower cost than the alternative, which is a composite material. However—if you’re looking at long-term costs and maintenance requirements, the case for composite becomes stronger. It doesn’t require regular staining or stripping like natural wood; it’s less susceptible to the elements, and it lasts longer. The only downside: It costs more upfront. Some homeowners also prefer the look and feel of natural wood, despite the benefits of composite material.

Hire a pro or do it yourself?

If you’re looking for the cheapest possible solution, don’t assume that DIY is the way to go. If you’re good with tools, surveying, planning, measuring—in other words, if you have experience with construction projects—you might find the project challenging and exciting. But many DIYers actually find themselves in over their heads. They end up calling in a professional to fix problems and finish the job.

Working with a licensed, reputable deck builder in your area can give you predictable, professional results at a price you can live with. It all depends on your ability to research and find the best companies around.

Moving forward toward a new deck

Now that you have a better idea of the various factors that will decide the cost of your new outdoor deck, you can get on with the business of collecting estimates and choosing the right deck builder for you. This should be a company that understands your design ideas and is able to help guide you toward solutions that will work for your budget and exceed your expectations.