Is it Cheaper to Build a Wooden Deck or Concrete Patio?


Deciding to improve your outdoor space is an exciting prospect. But, like any other home improvement project, it requires careful consideration and a bit of research. Of course, cost is one of the main factors when it comes to choosing an outdoor addition. And it’s not just the upfront cost to consider; there’s also the cost of maintenance and the likelihood that you’ll make some money back by increasing the property value. So the first question you need answered is this; is it cheaper to build a wooden deck or a concrete patio?

In general terms, building a concrete patio is cheaper than building a wooden deck. But that’s not the whole story. When all is said and done, building a wooden deck may be the cheaper option, even if it is more expensive upfront.

Let’s take a look at all the hidden costs of building and maintaining a patio or deck to see how this is possible. 

Patio or Deck Size

First of all, size is a big factor when deciding on a concrete patio or a wooden deck. For the sake of this article, I’ll assume that the size will remain the same no matter which option you choose. Let’s say that the average deck and patio size is 350 square feet. We’ll use this number as a helpful guideline to determine the cost of each structure. 

Materials

Now that we know the size, we need to talk about materials. After all, “wood” doesn’t just mean wood, and “concrete” doesn’t just mean concrete. They each have multiple options to consider, which will affect the price. All the prices listed below are indicative of average installation costs, as well, not just the material alone. 

Patio Concrete

The most common type of patio is made out of poured concrete . Now, depending on design and complexity, you’re looking at anywhere from $1,200 to $4,000 on average. 

  • For plain, no-frills design, the range is $3 to $5 per square foot. 
  • For a step up from plain, you’re looking at $6 to $9 per square foot.
  • To get a little more elaborate and decorative, $10 to $14. 
  • And, if you want to get really elaborate, $15 to $30 or more per square foot.

Stamped concrete is another option that can increase the cost of the patio. 

  • For single-color, basic stamped concrete, expect to pay between $6 and $12 per square foot.
  • For multiple colors and a more complicated design, you can pay anywhere from $13 to $35 per square foot. 

Concrete pavers are the final option for concrete patios. Again, complexity and design come into play to affect pricing.

  • Basic concrete pavers cost between $8 and $12 per square foot.
  • For concrete pavers designed to look like stone, $13 to $17 per square foot. 

So, on the low end, for a 350 square foot concrete patio, you can expect to pay $1,400. At the high end, you can pay as much as $8,000 or more, with $6,500 being the high end of the national average. 

Deck Wood

There are many different types of deck wood to choose from. The most cost-effective is referred to as pressure-treated decking or lumber. It can be made of any type of cheap, readily available wood. The other most common options for wood decks include cedar and redwood, with ipe, teak, and mahogany sitting at the high end of the price range.  

  • Pressure-treated decking runs about $12 to $15 per square foot to install. 
  • Cedar decking costs between $13 and $17 for installation. 
  • Redwood decking averages between $14.50 and $23 per square foot, installed.
  • Decks made from exotic woods like ipe, teak, and mahogany can run from $20 to $50 per square foot. 

So, for your average wood deck, 350-square feet, you’re looking at $4,550. At the high end, you can easily pay more than $10,000. The average cost of a wood deck is $13,000 at the high end. 

Maintenance

But I would be remiss if I didn’t mention maintenance costs. As you may expect, wooden decks have more maintenance costs than their concrete counterparts. Wood should be resealed every two to three years on average. Climate will also play a role in this. For example, if you live in a particularly humid area, you’ll want to reseal every one to two years. 

Concrete patios should be resealed every two to five years. If you live in an area that deals with extreme cold, a concrete slab patio might crack, which would also contribute to maintenance costs. 

  • Average cost of resealing a deck every two to three years: $1,100. 
  • Average cost of resealing a patio every two to five years: $975

Lifetime

It’s also a good idea to consider the lifetime of your deck or patio. A basic pressure-treated lumber deck will last between 20 and 30 years or longer with yearly maintenance. Concrete patios can last 30 to 40 years, with proper care. 

The reason why most homeowners get rid of their wooden deck isn’t because of safety, although that’s something to keep in mind, it’s because the wood begins to warp and change color. The boards become uneven from exposure to the elements. Many simply choose to replace the boards and leave the structure intact, while others decide to start anew by rebuilding the entire deck. Since concrete patios sit on the ground, they don’t warp as much, although it’s been known to happen on occasion, due to roots or slow shifts in the ground. 

Return on Investment

Both wooden decks and concrete patios provide some sort of ROI (return on investment) when built professionally and with quality materials. However, wooden decks tend to provide a much higher ROI than patios. This is something to consider if you think you’ll sell your house in the next 20 to 30 years. 

An average ROI of 75% is common for well-maintained wooden decks. If you spend $10,000 on a quality wooden deck, you may make back $7,500 when you sell your home. Of course, this doesn’t factor in any maintenance, but it’s still pretty good. 

Concrete patios, on the other hand, provide a maximum ROI of 50%. 

And using better materials won’t do much for you, in either case. Your best bet to get the maximum ROI out of your deck or porch is to use mid-grade materials and follow suggested maintenance guidelines. And unless you want them, don’t get too crazy with the features, like built-in fire pits, hot tubs, or outdoor kitchens. They don’t do a whole lot for your ROI, either. 

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Final Thoughts

All else being equal, it’s cheaper to install a concrete patio. But, expect to get, at most, half of your investment back if you sell your home. If you’re planning on selling soon, and want to enjoy an outdoor area for a couple of years, a wooden deck may be the way to go. 

Just keep in mind maintenance requirements, materials, and average lifetime as you make your decision. Use the average numbers in the blog post to get an idea of what each would cost you and make your decision with that knowledge. Then, call around. You may live in an area where materials and labor are cheaper than the national average!

Justin

Justin Childress is the creator of Sunshineandplay.com. He is also a devoted husband and father of his 1 year old son Gabriel. Justin enjoys spending time with family, reading, and, of course, contributing to Sunshineandplay.com.

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