More and more homeowners are opting to add a deck to their backyard. Decks make for a visually appealing, welcoming spot for friends and family to hang out. Not only that, but it also allows for the addition of larger furniture like tables and chairs to accommodate many guests.
Knowing what a 12×12 composite deck will cost, however, is important. Generally speaking, composite decking will run in the range of $20 to $38 for every square foot installed. This means a range of $5,821 to $10,826 when installing a 12×12 composite deck that also has railings.
To compare, installing a pressure-treated deck will cost somewhere in the range of $15 to $25 for each square foot and a cedar deck will start at around $30 per square foot. So, it ultimately comes down to the material that you use, but in this case, we are using composite.
Composite Decking Costs at a Glance
The average cost of a composite deck is based on the $20 to $38 per square foot range. There is the possibility that you could get it at a discounted rate and come in under the average but don’t expect to do so.
|National Average Cost||$8,064|
|Average Range||$6,611 to $8,901|
Generally, a deck is around 12×24 (288 square feet) but you can save some money by going 12×12. You can also get premium, high-end composite that will run you in the $35-$38 range per square foot. Know this when mapping out your costs.
Composite Decking Per Square Foot Cost
$28 is the national average cost of composite decking per square foot. On the low end, you may be able to find it at around $20 installed per square foot whereas there are higher-end composites that can run you closer to $40 per square foot and even higher.
|Deck Quality||Installed Cost per Square Foot||Total Cost on Average|
|Average National Cost||$28||$8,064|
|Premium Composite Decking||$38||$10,826|
If you happen to have a supplier in your area where the cost of composite decking is cheaper, you can bring down that average cost. But don’t count on it. If you are getting a heavy discount on composite decking, there is a reason for it, and it isn’t good.
The Cost of Composite Deck Boards
Generally speaking, you can expect a linear foot of composite deck boards to cost somewhere between $3.19 and $5.80. This is for materials and doesn’t include fastenings or installation, so keep that in mind.
The boards are 5 3/8 inches in width. When you factor in any potential waste, you will need around 317 square feet or 708 linear feet of composite decking boards (this is for 12×24 decks). This will help you get a better idea of your overall cost of materials without installation.
|Type of Deck Boards||Linear Foot Cost||Total Cost of Materials|
Keep in mind that going cheaper may provide short-term budget savings, but you get what you pay for. The cheaper the material, the sooner you are likely to need to replace it or install a new material instead.
Installation Costs for Composite Decking
As a general rule of thumb, it will cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $7.52 per square foot to install your composite decking. A 288 square foot deck will take in the 34-35 hour range and the labor cost will be in the range of $2,165.
Keep in mind that the cost quoted there is for an existing structure. If you need to have a substructure and railings installed in addition, that will bring you closer to 50 hours in labor. Your total cost would then be about a thousand more than listed above.
Labor is expensive and can be mitigated by taking on the project yourself. Keep in mind, however, that a professional will have the experience necessary to get the job done properly. Even if they don’t, there are typically guarantees and warranties in place for when an issue occurs. Installing it yourself means putting all of your eggs in one basket.
Factors That Can Impact Composite Decking Costs
The price of your composite deck can vary on a number of different materials and factors. This alone will come in the range of $2-$5 per linear foot. Without rails, planters, or hot tub sections, you are looking in the $5,800-$8,000 cost for installation.
There is no such thing as cheap composite decking, either. Sure, you might be able to find it at a discounted rate at one place over another, but the ultimate cost will come down to a couple of things. Most of these are under your control, so that means that you can ultimately decide what a deck will cost you.
The design and size of your deck are important when it comes to coming in at a cost that is under budget. The larger you go in deck size, the more it’s going to cost. If you can manage to cut back even 50 square feet, for instance, you can save in the range of $1,150 to $2,000 on your final pricing. Going over, likewise, can run you quite a bit as well.
Deck Corner Angles
A good rule of thumb when trying to keep costs down is to go simple. The more creative you get with a design, the more it will end up costing you in the long run. Angle cuts can add to the overall installation cost; this averages at around $60 per hour. So, while a hexagon may be your dream look, it will cost you substantially more than a traditional square or rectangle design.
If there are trees and other potential obstructions in your yard, this will only add to the overall cost. They have to be removed in order to evenly build. Even the most creative of efforts will take more time to just build around large trees.
As mentioned above, it will cost far less to have your deck installed if there is already a substructure in place. If you don’t have a substructure already, the posts will need to be 4×4, the joists spaced 16 inches on center, and the wood will need to be of a pressure-treated variety. You can add around $4 per square foot for all of that.
Should you decide to get fancy with your deck, you can always add additional accessories. This can be something like plumbing for a hot tub or built-in lighting. Whatever you add, it raises the costs quickly. In the instances listed, you’d need to bring in a plumber or electrician and those can run anywhere from $60 to $90 per hour.
Taking Out the Old Deck
If the plan is to take out an old deck and have it replaced with a brand-new one, it will cost to have the old one removed and taken away. You can find a home demolition company that will do the job at somewhere between $5 and $15 per square foot of old decking.
The new composite deck will need to be built on ground that is level. If the ground isn’t level already, you will need to have it leveled by a professional. Depending on the severity, it can cost you between $300 and $1,000 to have the ground leveled out.
When You Have it Installed
The time of year that you have your deck installed can play a role, too. If you have it installed in the spring, when everyone and their mother is having theirs installed, you will likely have to pay for premium installation prices. But if you can hold off until the summer or the fall, you may be able to find a good deal on installation.
Composite vs Wood
You can choose to use wood that is pressure-treated. Given the costs of composite decking, it makes sense to look for something more cost-effective. Pressure treated wood will be in the $15 to $25 range per square foot as opposed to $20-$38 for composited decking. If you want to go with cedar wood, you are looking at around $30 per square foot to start in most cases.
|Type of Decking||Average Cost per Square Foot|
|Cedar Wood||$30 or more|
The Benefits of Decking Over Wood
While composite is definitely more expensive than the wood options, there is a good reason for that. Generally speaking, it is a much more durable decking material. It has a low cost of maintenance and has the longevity that is superior to wood.
Composite can also increase the resale value of your home. So, despite the total costs involved in building a composite deck, you may actually be able to see a return of about 64% of your total costs when it comes time to sell the home.
The Real Difference
The biggest difference will come in the life of your deck. While the cost is substantial, it can be just the beginning of the money that you shell out if you go with a wooden deck. This is because maintenance on a wood deck will begin to rapidly add up over time. Even with the cheaper startup costs, it will end up being a more expensive proposition over time.
Real wood decks have to be cleaned, sanded, sealed, painted, and stained on a regular basis in order to look as nice as they do. Not to mention that it has to happen every few years depending on the weather. Composite means longevity.
So, keep that in mind when deciding between real wood and composite. The upfront costs are there for composite but you will wind up spending more in the long run (and putting more work in) with a real wood deck. No matter how beautiful wood may look, composite is the way to go.