A composite deck is an excellent investment for any homeowner looking to add outdoor living space. They are strong, durable, and can be built in almost any shape or size. However, a composite deck can cost tens of thousands of dollars, depending on its size and features. If you would like to stretch your deck-building budget as far as possible, we have put together a list of seven ideas to lower your costs. However, we want to be very clear: there are no silver bullets or magic tricks here. A reduction in price means a decrease in features or benefits. Everyone has a budget when they’re building a composite deck. The key is to know which features are “need to have” and which are “nice to have.”  

Our seven tips to lower the cost of your composite deck

  1. Install the deck yourself
  2. Choose a simpler color or texture
  3. Choose a different brand
  4. Use a simple pattern for laying your decking boards
  5. Reduce the dimensions of  your composite deck
  6. Omit electric power and plumbing
  7. Schedule your installation in the offseason 

Install the deck yourself.

There’s an old saying that “Time is money.” This advice is particularly true when you are talking about building a deck. 

From a technical standpoint, building a deck is one of the simpler construction projects out there. So if you are generally handy and don’t mind hard work, it’s absolutely possible to build the deck yourself. If you are weak and hate getting sweaty, building the deck yourself is not a good choice. 

Hiring a professional contractor saves you a lot of time and gives you superior build quality. Conversely, if you choose to do the work yourself it will undoubtedly take far longer. However, you don’t have to pay yourself a wage, so your labor cost goes down to zero. On a typical deck build project, roughly half the project cost is labor, so you can save thousands of dollars by doing the work yourself. Just plan for the project to take weeks instead of days. 

If you want to strike a compromise between cost and timing, have a contractor install the substructure. They can dig holes, put in posts, pour the footings, and hang all the joists. You can take the easier task of laying down the decking boards. 

Choose a simpler color or texture.

Most composite deck manufacturers offer a range of products at a range of price points. The more premium options are beautiful, with subtle variations in color and texture. They look as good as, and often better than, natural wood. Take a look at some of the more affordable products and patterns. You may find a simple gray or brown that looks great and costs up to 25 to 40% less than a premium offering. 

Also, consider hollow composite decking or composite decking with a grooved underside. These boards are specifically designed to be lighter, and because they use less material, they are often priced slightly less.

Choose a different brand.

There are dozens of companies in North America that manufacture composite decking, but most consumers can only name one: TREX. In fact, for many homeowners, TREX has become like “Kleenex” or “Xerox,”; a term for composite decking in general. However, several other companies make excellent composite decking, and many of them (including us, Armadillo Deck) are just as good as the best-known decking brands but cost less. 

Use a simple pattern for laying your decking boards.

This tip is so simple that it is easy to overlook. We love the look of diagonal decking, inlays with a contrasting color, and composite decking laid in a herringbone pattern, but every cut requires more time and measuring. By applying your composite decking parallel to or perpendicular to your home and doing all of your cuts in one pass along the edge, you can save some time and money.

Reduce the dimensions of  your composite deck.

This tip is obvious, but a lot of you may think resist it at first. However, take a long look at how you intend to use your deck and how much space that requires. If you don’t entertain large groups of people, you probably don’t need a deck that accommodates thirty people. If you like to dine alfresco with a handful of good friends, a smaller deck can deliver priceless memories at a much lower price point. 

Omit electric power and plumbing.

Lighting can significantly enhance the appearance of your deck and extend the amount of time that you can use it each day. However, running electricity and installing lighting fixtures, even low-voltage ones, is often a job for a skilled electrician. And if you were considering an outdoor kitchen complete with hot and cold water, consider that you’re going to need a plumber. And both electricity and plumbing often require digging a trench and cutting into your foundation. These are very expensive and can significantly drive up the cost of your deck.

Today, it is possible to buy solar lights that will provide illumination well into the evening, without the need for dedicated electrical service.

Schedule your installation in the offseason. 

If you are patient, you may be able to reduce the cost of professional installation by scheduling your deck project in the off-season. In the late spring, everyone wants to build a deck. If you can wait until fall (or winter, if you live further south), contractors will have more availability and more flexibility on labor costs.

Now that you know how to save when building a composite deck, it’s time to get started on your project. We hope this blog post has given you some helpful tips and ideas for saving money while installing a new composite deck. 

Armadillo Lifestyle Decking is designed for beauty and made for life. 

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