What Does It Cost to Rebuild a Deck? A Comprehensive BreakdownBy Dave Kile
There are 60 million decks nationwide, and 30 million of them are beyond their useful life, says the North American Deck and Rail Association (NADRA). Is your mildew-covered deck one of them? If so, you can rebuild it by making selective repairs and save a lot of money compared to a total replacement cost. Read on to discover what repairs are typically needed for this home improvement, how much they cost, and whether they’re worth doing.
Estimated Costs of Rebuilding a Deck
Differences in materials, workmanship, and site conditions mean that no “average deck” ages and declines in the same way. But most develop similar problems. NADRA offers a deck-safety checklist that discusses what to look for. Better yet, ask a deck contractor to inspect your deck. They’ll identify corroded fasteners, missing washers, decayed materials, unsafe railings, subpar lighting, building code violations, and other deficiencies and estimate the total cost of rebuilding.
According to HomeAdvisor surveys, homeowners spend $848 to $3,317 to repair their decks, with an average cost of $1,997. Below are the deck repair costs for the most common fixes.
Replacing boards is the most common deck repair. Deck boards come in a variety of materials, colors, and textures. Deck woods include pressure-treated pine or fir, natural woods like cedar and redwood, and exotic hardwoods like ipe, tigerwood, and mahogany. Synthetic deck boards include capped composites and PVC. Depending on your budget and the condition of the existing deck, you might need to do some pressure washing, a little sanding, and replace just few boards. While that will keep material costs low, keep in mind that it can be difficult to make the new boards match the look of the existing ones.
Pressure-treated wood. This is the least expensive option, with a retail price range of $1.75 to $2.75 per square foot. Expect to pay $15 to $20 per square foot installed.
Cedar and redwood. Western red cedar is naturally resistant to rot and insects. At retail, it costs $3.25 to $4.50 per square foot, and $25 to $30 installed. Redwood, most common on the West Coast, costs significantly more.
Composites. Decking made from composite materials average $5 to $8 per square foot at retail and costs $35 to $45 per square foot installed. The advantages of composite decking boards are their low maintenance and long service life. That’s why many people switch to composites when rebuilding pressure-treated wood decks. Composite decks are also less expensive than wood decks over time, largely because of their resistance to water damage.
PVC. These deck boards are solid polyvinyl chloride and unaffected by moisture. Like composite decking, PVC is an upgrade from pressure-treated wood. Avoid low-end versions. Look instead for name-brand boards, which have the color and grain patterns of natural wood. They cost $10 to $14 per square foot at retail and about $50 installed.
Hardwoods. Prices of tropical hardwood decking are comparable or slightly higher than those of high-end composite decking and PVC. Expect to pay $6 to $10 per square foot at retail and $40 to $60 installed.
To replace the deck boards of a 10 x 12-foot deck, DIYers will spend $350 to $1,000 on materials. Hiring a professional to do the work will cost an average of $2,100 to $6,000.
Railings—required on decks more than 30 inches off the ground—are the most visible element of your deck. They come in a wide variety of designs and materials, including wood, metal, and polymers, and prefab deck railing kits are widely available at Big Box retailers and online. They are usually sold in 6- and 8-foot sections, including the top and bottom rails, balusters, and hardware, but not the posts.
DIYers will pay $10 to $25 per linear foot for wood railings and $30 to $40 for aluminum railings. Railing systems from manufacturers of composite deck boards—color- and texture-matched—provide a harmonized look and cost about the same or slightly more than aluminum railings. Feeling whimsical? You can get a lighted etched glass baluster for $215 per linear foot.
If a professional supplies and installs the railings, they will cost between $40 and $60 per linear foot. So for a 10 x 10 deck with 30 linear feet of railing, the cost would be $300 (DIY) to $1,800 (professional).
Wood stairs and handrails take a beating. Typically, they’re replaced with the same deck boards and railings used on the deck. Expect to pay $40 to $50 per step for a deck contractor to do the work.
Factors That Affect the Cost of Rebuilding a Deck
Several factors influence what it costs to rebuild, including the size of the deck, its age, construction materials used, the extent of disrepair, and any features you add, such as lighting or a pergola, and whether you do the work or hire someone.
The bigger the deck, the more expensive it is to rebuild because large decks require more material and labor than small decks.
Decks have a lifespan of 10 to 30 years, depending on how well they’re built and with what materials. Maintenance history also matters. Generally, the older the deck, the more likely it is to have serious problems that require rebuilding.
You pay a premium for long-lasting and good-looking materials, but you might favor something less expensive if your deck is near the end of its service life. The least expensive deck boards are pressure-treated wood, and the most expensive are tropical hardwoods, which can be difficult to work with, and all wood decks require regular upkeep. Composite and PVC deck boards are more resilient than pressure-treated wood and require no staining or sealing, just a cleaning twice yearly. As a result, they can last 25 years or more.
Extent of disrepair
The more deficiencies your deck has, the more you’ll spend to fix them. For example, if rot or damage from a termite infestation extends into the structural elements—joists, beams, and posts—you might have no option other than to remove the entire deck and build from the ground up.
Make your outdoor living space as welcoming as your budget allows by adding lighting, a fire pit, or some other fun feature. If replacing all the deck boards, consider adding flashing tape to the joists to shield the exposed wood from moisture and extend their service life. If you have an elevated deck, you could even add an under-deck drainage system that enables you to use the area below for storage or living space.
DIY vs. professional deck installation
If you have the tools and can do the job correctly, you’ll save money doing the work yourself. But if you’re a novice DIYer with few carpentry skills, paying a professional is the right move. You’ll have peace of mind knowing your deck is up to code and safe for friends and family to enjoy.
Tips to Save Money on Deck Rebuilding
While you’re saving your deck, save some money, too. Here are a few ideas.
Stick to a budget
Keep track of project costs and avoid making upgrades, even small ones, which can add up and break your budget. That could force you to make cuts or downgrades elsewhere.
Get three opinions
Don’t hire the first deck builder you meet. Get at least three evaluations and estimates. You might be surprised how much they differ in scope and cost.
Do the work yourself
Handling the work yourself will save you a lot of money, but deck building isn’t for everyone. Be honest about how long the project will take and how much time you really have to spend on it. Be sure to consult with local building officials before you start. You’ll also need the right tools to rebuild a deck.
Deals abound if you know where to look. It could be a coupon for 10 percent off at a Big Box retailer. Or you might discover a discontinued product line and get your materials for less. If you want a specific material or model, use an online app to track it and alert you when it goes on sale or has a reduced price.
Is it Cheaper to Repair or Replace a Deck?
The least expensive deck is the one you already own, so rebuilding it by making selective repairs can be cost-effective in the short term. Just be sure the job suits your budget and will sufficiently prolong the deck’s service life. If you’re making recurring repairs to the deck or the deck has serious structural/safety issues, invest in a new deck that uses better materials and has a fresh design. It’s more economical in the long run.