How to Design a Low-Cost Deck

How To Build A Deck On A Budget

From sunny summer days and cool autumn evenings to even the chilly days of winter, there's no bad time to enjoy a well-designed deck. No matter the weather, there seems to always be a moment that's just perfect to relax outside. While building a dream outdoor space can feel intimidating and look expensive at first, planning and creating a gorgeous outdoor space can really be quite simple!

With a few tips from experienced deck designers and contractors, you can learn how easy it can be to build a DIY deck on a budget. Let's keep deck costs low and enjoyment high with some quick steps on how you can save money on a deck for your family's home.

Read on to learn more, or call our team at 1-888-824-5316 for even more deck design tips.

Tips to Reduce Cost When Designing and Building a Deck

1) Keep it simple

Browse through some deck designs and image galleries online and you're sure to see a lot of sprawling and intricate outdoor areas. While absolutely gorgeous, these unique, one-of-a-kind deck or patio plans often cost some serious dough. The best bet to keep your deck building costs low is to stick to the basics.

Skipping curves, bends, and other fancy design features will reduce both the decking materials and installation time needed for your build. Reducing the overall size of the deck in general is also likely to find you the biggest savings.

Try to plan your deck design to match with standard lumber lengths to reduce cost and waste. Plan on using concrete deck footings for a straightforward build. Keep overall deck shapes simple: rectangles are by far the easiest to plan and work with.

2) Choose your deck boards and materials carefully

Pressure-treated wood is generally the cheapest material to build decks from. For up-front savings, that seems great, but don’t forget long-term costs. Wood decks require yearly maintenance such as staining or painting, and they'll often break down quite quickly if you fall behind on maintenance.

Treated lumber is still a cost-effective choice for building a deck frame. However, investing in composite deck boards will save you both time and money later. Composite decking material is pricier at first glance, yet the money you'll save on yearly stain and cleaner purchases will easily make up the difference over the long lifespan of your deck.

Composite decking is also highly resistant to the factors that break down standard lumber. Resistant to water damage, fading, insects, and warping, composite decking will typically last around 20-30 years longer than regular wood planks. Save yourself the back-break of annual staining, and consider alternative decking.

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3) Time it right

Everyone knows that the warmer months are the most popular time for deck building. A simple stroll through your neighborhood will show you just how busy local contractors are working throughout May to August. Scheduling your deck installation in the offseason months could be a major way to save.

You'll typically find that local deck builders have fewer jobs competing for their time between the cooler months of November to December and March to April. Contractors may offer reduced rates to try to gain more business before the dead of winter. On top of that, scheduling will be much easier, making for a more pleasant time all around.

4) Let there be light before final call

If you're at all thinking about enjoying some deck lighting in your family's outdoor space, plan ahead for it! Installing LED deck lighting is relatively simple and straightforward these days, however, installing it on a completely finished deck build is tough.

When installing deck lighting, it’s useful to hide the low-voltage deck light wires in your deck posts and railing or under the deck itself. However, it's hugely easier to mount and conceal the deck light wires while also installing the deck railing itself. The same goes for installing LED stair lighting where holes are drilled in riser boards or treads.

While it's certainly not impossible to add deck lights to an existing deck, many deck builders will either refuse a job as small as installing it, or will charge a considerable amount for the task. If you're leaning towards deck lighting, install it straight away during the build and save the hassle. You can also plan ahead and ask your contractor to create wire openings in convenient spaces as they're building.

Here's a helpful video on how to hide low-voltage deck lighting wires on your deck space:

5) Do it D-I-Y

A lot of homeowners and deck planners feel that hiring a professional deck builder is worth the peace of mind. And that is absolutely wonderful! Pro contractors will build a beautiful space for you to enjoy in no time at all. But if you’re fairly handy in carpentry or have experienced friends that can help, building your own deck will definitely reduce the cost.

In fact, DecksDirect staffs a full team of experienced project planners who can help you design and plan a DIY deck on a budget. Call our team at 1-888-824-5316 to figure out which parts of the build you’re comfortable doing yourself (you might be surprised how easy many modern deck railings have become!) and what parts you want to hire out.

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With all of the resources available online, DIY builders can definitely have a field day planning, designing, and building their own outdoor deck space. It might feel overwhelming at first, but the satisfaction of knowing that you created the space your family gathers on will last a lifetime!

Take a minute to read through the DecksDirect Deck Framing Guide to learn more about how to build a deck frame and feel more prepared!

Once you've learned how to design and build a low cost deck, finish it off with a beautiful deck railing system like AFCO Pro

Learn more about the basics of deck framing and building in the Deck Framing Guide and learn the specific deck part names in the Glossary of Deck Terms and Lingo.

Browse more deck design and railing style notes to upgrade your backyard space and deck in the DecksDirect Railing Style Guide. The quickest way to learn if your home is more suited for a classic aluminum deck railing or a strong, composite railing line.

More Deck Project Resources