What Is Cheaper: Wood Deck or Concrete Patio?

Installing or replacing your deck or patio can be one of the best decisions you will ever make as a homeowner. While putting in a new deck or patio can significantly increase the value and visual appeal of a home, it can also be an expensive undertaking. This may lead many people to question which is cheaper between a wood deck or a concrete patio.

A concrete patio is cheaper than a wood deck because concrete is more affordable in bulk. A concrete patio’s average cost ranges between $3-5 USD per square foot for the materials and labor combined, while a wood deck’s price is much higher, ranging between $3.75-5 for just the materials alone. 

In this article, we will begin by going over different aspects that add to the overall price of installing either a wood deck or concrete patio. We will then take a comprehensive look at the cost breakdown for both wooden decks and concrete patios to help you understand which is more cost-efficient for your outdoor project. 

Factors That Contribute to Construction Costs

When trying to decide which is cheaper between a wood deck and a concrete patio, there are a number of variables to consider first. By examining each of these financial factors individually, you can then compare the total costs to your estimated budget and make a more informed decision.

Always be patient and do not rush into your decision. Take the time to consult with experts who can survey the property and offer professional feedback.

It’s also important to note that a building permit may be required in some regions and jurisdictions before you are legally allowed to begin constructing a deck or patio. Furthermore, you might also be subject to a safety inspection upon installing your deck or patio to ensure that it is up to code. Be aware of the rules in your area and follow legal protocols to avoid trouble.

Type of Material

The prominent construction materials used for a wood deck or concrete patios are solid wood and concrete. The wood is cut into boards and aligned together to form a surface, while the concrete is poured into a frame and left to cure.

What Is Cheaper: Wood Deck or Concrete Patio?

The types of wood you are most likely to build a deck from are cedar and redwood, pressure-treated or composite. Cedar and redwood decking is around the same price per square foot, with pressure-treated costing less and composite costing more.

Redwood is slightly stronger than cedar, but both require more maintenance than composite and pressure-treated wood to prevent weathering and rot.

Each has its own set of pros and cons, but whichever material you choose to build your deck from will largely come to influence the total cost.

Concrete, on the other hand, has less variance than wood. However, you must purchase a high-quality concrete brand with a great amount of compressive force resistance for it to be deemed adequate for constructing a patio. Good concrete can be considerably more expensive than a second-rate alternative. Poor quality concrete can lead to chipping and cracks in your patio and should be avoided.

Both wood and concrete benefit from an added sealant to lock in durability and prevent weather damages, which can also increase the costs. 

Scope of Your Project

The total square footage of the deck or patio you are planning to build will, in all likelihood, be the single most determinant factor in the final cost of your patio or deck.

What Is Cheaper: Wood Deck or Concrete Patio?

Whether you decide to go with a wooden deck or a concrete patio, the bigger it will be, the more it will cost you. Greater square footage requires more raw materials, and these cost money.

The takeaway from this point is to size your deck or patio when planning it out reasonably. Do not build it too small for the sake of saving money, but at the same time, it should be practical and proportionate.

Stairs, ledges, awnings, all of these things will add to your wood deck or concrete patio cost, so keep this in mind when pricing the job.

Labor

Labor costs are a primary factor when discussing the cost of any construction job.

According to this article by Home Stratosphere, for a deck between 200-500 square feet (16-46.5 m²)—which is average—you will be looking at $7,000-17,000 for the labor and installation alone!

This huge cost can be significantly reduced, if not eliminated if you can do all or most of the work by yourself. This is why it is worth taking the time to educate yourself on how to build decks/pour concrete patios safely and securely. 

This book entitled Black & Decker: The Complete Guide to Decks will get you started on the road to big savings. 

Black & Decker The Complete Guide to Decks, Updated 5th Edition (Black & Decker Complete Guide)
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Editors of CPi (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

Last update on 2022-09-01 at 15:02 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

If you decide to go with a concrete patio instead, Black & Decker also has you covered with their Black & Decker: The Complete Guide to Patios.

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Black & Decker Complete Guide to Patios - 3rd Edition: A DIY Guide to Building Patios, Walkways & Outdoor Steps
  • Editors of Cool Springs Press (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 240 Pages - 04/15/2014 (Publication Date) - Cool Springs Press (Publisher)

Last update on 2022-09-01 at 15:02 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Since labor is such an expensive and important aspect of pricing a deck or patio job, we strongly recommend seeking multiple appraisals to get a feel for what different contractors are charging. 

It is also a good idea to ask for pictures of finished works and customer testimonials from companies you consider hiring to do labor work for you.

Customizations 

The extravagance or intricacy of your patio or deck includes any design detail that is not considered standard.

Some of the most common customizations for wood decks and concrete patios include:

  • Staircases
  • Gardening planters/boxes/beds
  • Multiple levels
  • Walls
  • Fireplaces
  • Built-in benches

Essentially, any of the above customizations can be applied to concrete patios or wood decks, but the outward appearance of their finished results will greatly differ.

Another way that a deck or patio may be customized is through the use of unique stains and paints.

If you are interested in having a custom job performed on your deck or patio, it may be worth it to seek the help and advice of a professional exterior design specialist. They can work with you to help create unique ideas that will match the rest of your home and property uniformly.

Cost Breakdown of a Wood Deck and Concrete Patio

Now that we have taken the time to go through all of the price-relevant factors in building a wood deck or concrete patio, we can look at the average costs of each and arrive at our conclusion on which is cheaper overall.

Wood Deck Pricing

Different types of wood carry different price tags, which can impact the final costs of your project. According to this article from the DIY Network, pressure-treated wood typically ranges from $1.50-2.50 USD per square foot. Keep in mind that this is the cheapest decking material.

You can expect to pay somewhere between $3.75-5 for a cedar deck and $6-8 for redwood per square foot, depending on your location and the supply in that area.

Composite is $7-10 per square foot, but its longevity may make up for the cost long-term.

Concrete Patio Pricing

According to this patio cost breakdown by The Concrete Network, the average cost of a standard concrete patio—without customizations—is $3-6. This is considerably cheaper than a wooden deck.

Moreover, concrete patios last longer and require less maintenance to preserve. This means that concrete patios are not only cheaper than wood decks short-term but long-term as well.

It isn’t until you start appraising the more elegant custom jobs when the price of a concrete patio begins to draw even with a wood deck on a per square foot basis.

Conclusion

Once you factor in all considerations, such as material, labor, and longevity, concrete patios are considerably cheaper than wood decks of the same size.

While a nice wood deck may add more value to your home, concrete patios require much less maintenance and offer long-term durability.

As such, a concrete patio is a better option price-wise for those on a fixed budget.

Sources

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