How to Save Money on Your Deck Project

Building a deck creates the ideal place for outdoor living, casual dining and relaxation. But modern deck designs include many different features and materials, resulting in an expensive home improvement project. Learn how to save money on your deck project and end up with a quality built, well designed backyard space you can enjoy for many years to come.

Assess Your Needs

Many homeowners dream of a certain style of living space, and assume they need a massive deck surface to accomplish their dreams. Shape and design play a more important role than size, and your budget will quickly swell as your deck grows.

Think about what type of activities your family will enjoy on the deck. Outdoor dining at a patio table requires about 150 square feet of space, plus a small area for your grill and some space for traffic flow. A deck designed mainly for al fresco dining should come in at around 180 to 200 square feet, a size which fits nicely into the average suburban yard.

Swimming pool decks tend to wrap around the water and decks made for lounging in the sun are often low and long. Consider your needs and design a shape and size that will complement those requirements without extending beyond your budget.

Choose the Right Materials

The most affordable option for your deck design is treated wood. Often derived from spruce, pine or fir, this lumber is treated for rot and pest resistance using chemicals and high levels of pressure. It offers a low maintenance solution for your backyard living space, and should last twelve to eighteen years without replacement.

Cedar wood provides a more natural option. This lumber contains natural preservatives called tannins, which deter pests and rot for a period of between ten and fifteen years. It tends to turn grey in color after about one year, but can be easily washed and stained to retain the beautiful reddish tone. The Western Red Cedar Association outlines the many benefits of constructing a cedar deck, although this material will push the budget up by approximately fifty percent.

Composite deck boards offer homeowners the lowest maintenance requirements. This material contains a mixture of plastic fibers, wood fibers, adhesives and coloring pressed into a plank form or extruded to create a hollow deck board. The color and texture withstands any amount of exposure and lasts for generations, resistant to rot, pests and other common types of deterioration. Composite, such as Trex costs at least twice as much as treated lumber, and could be even higher in certain parts of the country.

Consider your railing materials to save money on building a deck. Tempered glass and aluminum styles lend an upscale look to your outdoor living space, but cost more than the standard wood picket styles.

Start with a Smart Deck Design

Deck design also affects the budget. After you've considered the size and materials, think about the layout and features you want to include. Some are purely aesthetic, such as deck board patterns or decorative post caps, while others offer multiple benefits, such as deck lighting or solid board skirting. Determine whether or not the features included in your deck design are worth the additional expense.

Shop around for various manufacturers on ready-made deck additions, like solar lighting and patio heaters. You may find a cheaper model that will serve your purposes, or discover a deal on your preferred model. Some building materials retailers, such as Home Depot offer generic lines of decking products with similar quality and durability, but lower price tags.

Consider DIY

If you have some skills with a hammer and saw, embarking on a DIY deck project will save money. Some decking contractors provide support for DIY enthusiasts, including a detailed deck design, post installation and in some cases, framing installation. Nailing or screwing on deck boards is fairly straightforward and component railing systems (available in aluminum, wood, vinyl and glass styles) go up fast and easy.

Although every municipality has differing bylaws in place, you may still need a deck permit for DIY projects. Your deck design should meet local building code and all installation practices must follow the guidelines in place, including the post or pier dimensions and fasteners used. Do not skimp on safety to save a few dollars.

If deck construction does not seem possible, consider other ways you can cut down on the cost to build a deck. Remove your old one and dispose the materials at your local dump. This saves time and money for the contractor, and can be done with minimal skill. Stain your own deck or install surface-mounted deck lighting after the project is completed. Every small step you take care of shaves a bit off your bill.

Plan the Project in Stages

Staging the project allows you to space out the spending. Pay cash to save on interest costs or break up the budget for a more affordable option. Be prepared to endure months of a messy yard and have plenty of temporary fence and other safety markings on hand for those in-between stages.

Talk to your deck installation contractor about staging the construction. If you're dreaming about a multi-level deck or a combination design that involves stone patios, privacy fences or swimming pools, consider how that project can be split into steps of construction. Perhaps you could install the deck this season and plan to erect the privacy screen next year, or live without the stone patio for a few months. This method helps homeowners to better manage the renovation costs.

You can build a deck on a tight budget and still realize the outdoor living space of your dreams. Use these simple tricks to shave expenses and make your money go farther on a deck project. From smart deck design to DIY options, the ideal materials and a realistic size, your backyard budget should go a long way to creating an oasis just outside the patio door.

Posted by: diana
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