A wood-framed deck may be one of the only features of a home where most of the entire structure is visible. Except in circumstances where other materials are being used, such as aluminum, vinyl or composite, a deck is a straightforward structure made from wooden beams and railings. This is the main reason that the prices for deck construction can vary so much.
1. Type of Deck
One of the first items of business before building a deck is to ask yourself what it will be used for. This is an important item because your answer will decide how the deck will be built. For example,
a deck built low to the ground for the purpose of providing a flat area for chairs and a barbecue will be built much differently than one that is four feet high and will support a hot tub. Also decide on what other features you such as lighting, water features or wind protection. These items will also affect the construction of the deck because wiring and plumbing will have to be figured out beforehand.
2. Deck Design
Most decking materials are milled in lengths of 8, 12, and 16 feet. In the case of pressure-treated wood every cut not only wastes wood but provides an opening for water to get in the wood. This affects the preservation of the wood and may cut on the deck's life. Most importantly, buying wood in the milled lengths saves money on wood and also shortens the time to build the deck.
Many people want a maintenance-free deck but this means different things in each area of the country. In the southwest wooden decks do not suffer from moisture or the boring insects like those that attack wood in the southeast. In areas where there is a lot of rain most builders will choose pressure-treated wood, cedar, composites and non-wood products. In the northern states many homeowners will opt for tempered-glass insets in the railings wind rather than the standard balusters as protection against cold winds. Some high-end decks are being made from powder-coated aluminum so that the owners never have to do any maintenance.
4. Watch the Flyers
Since deck building is seasonal the building supply places will be giving deals at some point and these may be up to 60%. The reason for this is that they have to store the unsold product, and this takes up valuable space that can be used for products that are just coming into season. In addition, every board that sits unsold costs the store interest from their supplier. Find out when the sales are happening and plan to buy at this time. Even if you build the deck built in the late fall saving $2,000 on materials is well worth it.
5. Contractor Deals
As in any type of business deck contractors can have carpenters that work for them or work alone. Either way they have commitments and payments to make, and this can be difficult when work slows down in the off-season. Many great deals can found by phoning around during these slow times to find out when there is a seasonal slowdown in decks in your area.
In addition, get the deck contractor to give you two estimates. The first should be full price with a break-down for labor and materials and the second just for labor. Some deck contractors charge an extra fee on top of the materials plus they get a discount from the building supply. If you get the supplies yourself then you could save by eliminating these add-ons.
6. Buy Accessories in Bulk
This may seem like a simple request but many people don' realize that buying screws, joist hangers and nails in bulk could save a couple of hundred dollars. For example, if some people need 2,000 deck screws they might buy 20 packs of 100 for $80 and not think of buying a large box of 2,000 screws for $45.
7. Deck Blocks Instead of Pouring Concrete
Many deck plans call for pouring concrete for deck footings. Most people don't have the tools for concrete and will have to rent a mixer and buy the sand and cement or simply get the pre-mixed concrete in bags. Add to this the price of the cardboard form tubes and labor and the price begins to get steep. Properly placed deck blocks on a good bed of gravel will provide good support. These cost only $10 each and an average deck only needs one for every four-square feet. In addition, these blocks are perfectly molded to hold wood supports and are channeled to drain away water.
8. Seal Your Deck
The best-built wood deck will need sealing and even pressure-treated decking needs protection. Many experts feel that the deck should be allowed one full year before being sealed as the chemicals will have leached out of the surface by then allowing the deck stain or other treatment to be absorbed.
For more information on getting the right contractor for your decking project consult our Contractor Directory or simply post your project online.Posted by: TrustedPros