Adding an outdoor space to your property can help it feel more spacious, let you enjoy nice weather in comfort, and raise the value of your home. The most common additions are a concrete patio or a wood deck, but which to choose? Apart from aesthetic reasons, the cost is a major factor in choosing between the two. All depends on cost of concrete patio vs. wood deck.
Typically, a concrete patio is only 2/3 of the price of a deck. Exact pricing varies by location and will change with the seasons and inflation. It is nearly impossible to build a wooden deck cheaper than a patio because of the price of lumber (especially if it is built to code by a professional). Labor is the biggest cost in building a deck or patio, so if you feel comfortable doing it yourself, the cost will be much lower.
Cost of a Concrete Patio
A concrete patio, assuming you don’t add too many bells and whistles, is going to be significantly cheaper than a deck. Professionals in my area quote around four dollars per square foot to pour a basic patio.
The largest cost here is the labor, as the concrete mix is readily available. Depending on your location your mileage may vary.
Cost of a Wood Deck
In contrast, a wooden deck requires pressure-treated lumber to withstand the elements. This lumber comes in several prices, but most contractor quotes came in around six dollars ($6) per square foot for the cheapest option.
Lumber is more prone to variability in price and availability than concrete mix, so your local quotes may look very different. However, lumber is never going to be as cheap as concrete.
Factors Affecting Cost
When estimating the price of your project, consider that several factors affect the price. Some of these are semi-fixed while others are easier to change. Lets start with these cost of concrete patio vs. wood deck.
The largest cost of building a patio or deck is going to be the labor.
The next most important factor is the materials. This is by far the most fixed of the factors, as building a patio or deck to code requires a minimum quality of construction.
The concrete mix varies very little in price. Choosing a different type of wood for a deck can modulate the cost only slightly. All wood in decks is required to be pressure treated (which significantly raises the price).
The size of your addition is a flexible factor that you can use to change the price. Generally, a larger installation is more expensive because it requires additional labor and materials.
To estimate the cost of your project, multiply the price per square foot by the total area of your desired space.
You may not expect the next one, but the location will affect the price.
A patio is almost always set into the ground, therefore making the location static. A deck however can be built on ground level or raised. It can also be supported by the house or freestanding.
The cheapest deck is one that is ground level, while the most expensive is raised and freestanding. This is because raised and freestanding decks require additional support and more complex designs.
Finally, the biggest culprit of a high price tag is the add-ons. It’s hard to resist cool features such as concrete stamping, built-in barbecues, and multileveled designs. However, these are all going to significantly raise the price.
Contractors often suggest these options as a way of making their time-to-money ratio more efficient, but a good contractor will respect you saying you don’t have the money for extras.
Tips for a Cheaper Project
Even though prices in your area may be higher than you’d like for a patio or deck, there are several ways you can bring the number down.
Build In the Off-Season
Those who don’t make a habit of renovating their home might be surprised to hear that the time of year you do the project matters.
Many professional contractors offer discounts during the off-season to try and keep the cash flowing. You might also see a drop in price on some materials if the demand goes down.
As a side note, many contractors set their rates. It’s not unheard of for them to have a fee or higher hourly rate for customers that are rude and inconsiderate. It’s not the only reason that you should be nice to the local handyman, but it certainly helps.
During the early Fall, most work for landscapers and outdoor specialized contractors has dried up, but the weather remains suitable for construction. Keep an eye on local newspapers, coupon campaigns, and signs for deals.
Use Leftover Materials
Especially if you are looking to DIY your project, you can try using leftover materials.
Locals often post on classified sites or in neighborhood social media groups about leftover materials from a project they’ve finished. Possible finds can include scrap lumber, concrete mix, sand, pavers, gravel, and lightly used tools.
These materials can be cheap or even free, but you’ll have to be patient to get everything you need.
Hiring a reputable contractor is the safest way to get a quality product, but also the most expensive. Hiring someone with less experience, or even doing it yourself, would be cheaper.
Especially in the case of a concrete patio, which is an easy install, consider DIY.
This will of course increase the amount of time it takes (the contractor can almost certainly work faster than you). It may also be more stressful for you. However, it also has the highest impact on the cost of the project.
Skip the Addons
If money is a concern, consider trimming add-ons from the project. Many can be added later after you’ve saved additional money. Others may just not be worth it to you when you see the price tag.
A concrete patio is almost always going to be cheaper than a wooden deck. Research shows that it’s about 1/3 cheaper when professionally installed.
However, you can do several things to change that price, and it may vary by region, to begin with.
Some ideas to save money on your outdoor addition include forgoing add-ons, DIYing the project, using leftover materials, and avoiding peak season. Follow this cost of concrete patio vs. wood deck gaidance and save money.
Which has better resale value: a concrete patio or a wooden deck?
A deck is typically considered more desirable than a patio, although both will raise the resale value of your home.
Which is more DIY friendly: a concrete patio or a wooden deck?
A concrete patio is more DIY-friendly because the risk of catastrophic failure is minimal.
A poorly designed deck can collapse, damaging property or injuring people. A poorly designed patio however is unlikely to cause injury and is often salvageable by repouring a thin layer of concrete on top.
When is the best time to build an outdoor addition?
Building an outdoor addition should be done during clear weather to assist in the curing of concrete and fastening of deck joints. Even though this means that summer is the safest bet, it’s also when these spaces are in the highest demand.
Finding a happy medium of good weather while avoiding summer can help you score discounts. The time of year that this includes varies by region, so use your best judgment.