How Much Does It Cost to Build a Deck?

With careful planning you can dial in the cost of building a deck to match your comfort level.
Wood Deck and White Home Exterior

Wood Deck and White Home Exterior

Cozily tucked into a corner of the house, this deck gives occupants a sheltered place to relax and entertain. Container gardens help connect the area with the yard.

Photo by: Eric Charles

Eric Charles

By: John Riha

Adding a deck is a great way to expand your living area at a modest cost per square foot. According to the “Cost vs. Value Report” from “Remodeling” magazine, the national average cost to have a basic, all-pressure-treated wood deck professionally built is $31 per square foot. Compare that to the national average cost for a two-story addition of about $210 per square foot, and outdoor living sounds really attractive.

But that $31 per square foot is only a reference point. Depending on how simple or extravagant your tastes are, and how much DIY work you’re willing to do, the cost of building a deck can vary a whole bunch.

Obviously, the size of your deck is a big factor in determining costs. Smaller decks cut down not only on the amount of decking you’ll use, but also the number of posts, piers, joists, screws, and metal connectors. Smaller decks take less time to build, too. So if you need to cut costs from your proposed deck project, try shaving a few square feet off the design.

Building a Deck 02:48

In this series, Chip Wade shows you how to build a deck from the ground up.

The overall design affects cost, too. A square or rectangle deck is straightforward. Start adding curves, multiple levels, and herringbone decking patterns and you can tack another 30% to 50% onto your costs.

Do-it-yourself labor can be a big money-saver. A competent DIYer is likely to cut that $31-per-square-foot cost in half. The tradeoff is time — if you’re not building decks for a living, you’re likely to take three times longer to build your deck than a pro.

Your choice of materials is another variable that affects the cost of building a deck. Here are some common decking material and their prices:

Pressure-treated wood is generally the cheapest decking material you can find, but it’s usually made from inferior-grades of wood. $1.50 to $2.50 per square foot.

Cedar is widely available and makes for beautiful decking. $3.75 to $5 per square foot.

Redwood decking is generally available in the West but can be harder to come by east of the Rockies. $6 to $8 per square foot.

Composite and other synthetic decking has the advantage of being virtually maintenance-free. Many brands have a high recycled content. $7 to $10 per square foot.

Ipe and other tropical hardwoods are the luxury choice and they’ll last up to 50 years. Because ipe is so hard, installation goes slow. $8 to $12 per square foot.

The really good news about establishing your deck budget is that there are many free deck cost estimators available online. Put in your dimensions, choose your materials, add a zip code and voila! You’ll get a good idea what your deck will cost in your area. Websites of deck part manufacturers and home improvement centers are good places to find deck cost estimators, some even have deck stair calculators, too. It’s a great way to kick off your project with a budget firmly in hand.

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