Building a deck onto your home is a great way to increase your property value, and a surefire way to ensure your family will enjoy the outdoors. Wood was the top option for decades, but now a new type of material has become king of the hill.
Composite decking is an alternative style of deck board that has several advantages over traditional lumber. Price isn’t one of them, however, so we’ve put together a guide to help you find the cost of composite decking along with the price to have it installed.
Composite Decking Cost Factors
In our ultimate decking guide, we explained how composite boards are different from PVC or wood, and a great way to go green. While composite decking products as a whole are highly resistant to things like stains and mold, there are a number of factors that can raise the price of your deck. How those boards are produced is only part of the price, as you also have to consider the scope of your project and the type of composite decking you’ll use.
Types of Composite Decking
All composite boards are not created equal, and we’re not just talking about the quality in which they were manufactured. There are two main styles to consider with regular composite deck boards and ones that are capped.
There are also two types of form factors available if you’re shopping for composite decking, something that surprises many homeowners. Composite deck boards are the most common option and are usually priced by the square foot and sold by the board or bundle. Boards come in a variety of thicknesses and profiles but are typically sold in 12, 16, and 20-foot lengths.
If you’re looking for something unique but want to use composite for your deck or patio, composite decking tiles are something you’ll want to consider. They can come in sizes from 1’ x 1’ up to larger 1’ x 3’ sections and easier to install if you plan to construct a small deck yourself. Styles and styles are more limited than what you’ll find from a composite deck board, but you can make some unique layouts simple with composite tiles.
Composite Deck Board Profiles
Every type of composite deck board will have a profile. The profile gives you an idea of how a board is designed and is key for certain types of installation methods. It can also double the price of composite decking, depending on the style you choose.
The top, bottom, and core of composite decking are important, but so are the edges. Slotted boards are ideal if you want to use a hidden faster system, but will be more expensive than traditional boards that are screwed down from the top.
Whether you’re buying engineered hardwood or luxury vinyl planks, how a board is finished can have a significant impact on the price. Composite boards may be made from plastic and wood, but manufacturers can still use a range of techniques to make their decking look more realistic.
Are you looking for boards that have a worn, weathered look? That’s certainly an option with composite decking, and it’s not uncommon to find planks with variegated coloring as well. You will pay a premium for planks with finer details as the more wood-like they appear, the higher their price tag will be. Solid color composite decking typically isn’t as realistic, but it can be considerably cheaper.
Quality is usually tied into the warranty of a product, and it’s no different with decking. The best composite decking will have a lengthy guarantee in the range of 50 years and is usually a company’s top-tier product. In the mid-range, you’ll find warranties from 20 to 35 years, and budget-friendly boards can be warrantied for around 10 to 20 years. How long those planks actually last depends on a number of factors, however, but you’ll always pay more for decking that’s built to survive the outdoors.
Composite Decking Cost
Depending on the quality tier and board length, you can expect to pay around $40.00 to $70.00 for a 20-foot composite deck board. With products in the mid-range to premium class, the prices rise to about $60.00 to $110.00 for the same 20-foot board. Our pricing chart will give you a better idea of what to expect from some of the best composite deck brands when it comes to pricing.
$60 - $96
$80 - $125
$10 - $150
Composite Decking Installation Cost
It’s easy to sit around and dream about a large deck outside, but you’ll need to plan things out to make it a reality once you understand the cost of composite decking. While there are a number of tools on the internet that can help you design the perfect deck, the first thing you want to do is simply consider your needs.
Do you have a large family, or are you planning on building a small patio for two from composite boards? Size has a significant impact on price, and you need to think about any outdoor activities as well. If you like grilling during the summers, you will need enough space to accommodate that grill, and the same goes for general seating, eating, or sunbathing.
Once you have an idea of the type of deck you want and how large it needs to be, it’s time to think about the cost of installing a composite deck yourself compared to bringing in professional deck builders.
The Cost to Install Composite Decking Yourself
We’re going to be honest; building a deck from the ground up is not something everyone will be able to handle as there is a great deal of work involved. It’s easy to become overwhelmed by trying to find the right type deck screw and forget overlooked areas like the ground itself or permits.
Did you know you’ll probably need one to build a deck? A building permit for a deck can be more difficult to acquire than you think, depending on where you live, and here are a few other areas you should consider before going the DIY route.
Tools of the Trade
For traditional deck installation, the tools you will need to acquire are simple. You’ll need a circular saw or miter saw to cut your composite decking, and a carpenters square ensures your edges will stay nice and straight. Squares are cheap, and so are things like pencils and measuring tapes, but a good circular saw will set you back around $60.00 to over $100 or more.
While not a necessity, a solid pair of sawhorses will make your life easier. You also won’t get very far without decking screws, which are trickier to narrow down than you might think. It’s often best to stick to screws sold by the company that sells your decking when color matching is essential, but it’s a moot point if you plan on using a hidden fastener system for those planks.
Screws can run around $38.00 for 300 of TimberTech’s TOPLoc screws, while others can cost up to $10 per pound. The cost of fastening systems vary depending on the manufacturer, but they are more expensive than standard or special deck screws. Those are just the materials you’ll need to construct your deck, however, as you also have to think about ground beneath it.
Aside from the cost of decking, the materials you need to get started are fairly inexpensive, but the “extras” are where things tend to get expensive. In this case, there are two types of additional expenses you’ll need to account for although one depends entirely on the kind of deck you decide to build.
Decks are built off the ground, so you will need to handle footings. That requires some dedication and a sturdy posthole digger unless you want to rent an auger to handle the hard work. An auger geared for one man is around $70.00 per day, but well worth it if you have to dig a lot of holes. Concrete will be required as well, which you can pick up for a few dollars per bag. Other extras include post anchors and pressure-treated wood for the deck frame and joists.
With accessories, it comes down to how much you want to spend as the options are limitless. You can pick up solar powered post caps or a gate kit depending on your design. Handrails, end caps, and trim are all standard accessories and things that can raise the overall cost of your project by a few hundred or several thousand dollars, depending on your design.
Composite Decking Installation Problems
There are hundreds of helpful guides and videos online that can show you how to properly build a deck of any size or style. The basic principles always remain the same, but following directions can be easier said than done. With decking, a simple mistake can be expensive, so it’s an area where the old adage “measure twice, cut once” certainly applies.
The most common issue we found with homeowners that attempt to install decking is the area where the deck will be installed. Keeping things up to code isn’t simple depending on where you live, and it’s not uncommon for various issues to arise during the building process. Someone building a composite deck around a pool will deal with a completely different set of issues than a homeowner that wants a small deck added to the second story of their home.
The best piece of advice we can give you is to follow the manufacturer’s directions with the product you’re using. Joint, butt-end, and edge spacing are all just as critical as that building permit. It’s also a good idea to keep water and gas lines in mind while digging along with power and cable line placement for two story decks.
The Cost of a Professional Composite Decking Installation
You’ve already seen how much decking can cost, and the other half of pricing comes down to labor if you aren’t going to do it all yourself. Bringing in a carpenter or professional deck installer to handle the job can be expensive, but well worth it if you have tricky landscaping to deal with or just aren’t handy with a hammer.
The price of composite decking installation from a professional comes down to three things – labor, material, and the size of the deck. While you already have a good idea of what the materials will cost and how big it will be, labor can be difficult to figure out. A contractor will have a set fee to install your deck, but other factors including the substructure can drive the cost up.
If you need a slab or footers poured, that can cost you around $2.00 to $5.00 per square foot. Building stairs to tall decks aren’t cheap, and if you need them to reach the second story, it will cost hundreds of dollars. Installing railing around your deck or lattice beneath it will increase the cost as well, although some contractors will set a flat rate for labor on those types of extras.
Assuming you’re not designing a deck that belongs on the cover of Better Home and Gardens, the national average for labor is around $10.00 to $25.00 per square foot for deck installation. While there will be variance depending on your location, composites are generally easy to work with, and you won’t need to spend extra to have them stained or finished.
Best Places to Purchase Composite Decking for your Home
When you are shopping for carpet or luxury vinyl tile, it can be disappointing to find that you can’t pick up what you want locally. Well, thankfully that is not the case when you’re shopping for composite decking. If you leave near a Home Depot or Lowes, you’ll be thrilled to know there are plenty of options available.
TimberTech and Trex are two of the most popular brands with consumers, and you can find almost the entire Trex catalog through Lowes. They also carry Fiberon and MoistureShield, along with a handful of other brands. If you prefer TimberTech to Trex, you’ll find that through Home Depot. The store’s second most popular option is NewTechWood, but they also have MoistureShield and Fiberon as well.
For smaller brands or unique products, you may have to shop around a little more locally or turn to online vendors. While there are several reputable places to buy decking online, it’s always cheaper to buy locally due to shipping charges and the weight of composite boards.