How to Build a Deck DIY on a Budget (backyard ideas & tips) 


A deck is an awesome way to extend your indoor living space into the outdoors. But having a nice deck built on your house can be expensive. So having done it myself, here are my best tips on building a deck on a budget.

To build a deck on a budget:

  1. Avoid unusually shaped decks or extra-large decks
  2. Keep the deck low to the ground to save on both framing and railing wood costs
  3. A deck just above the ground also won’t need stairs
  4. Use concrete deck blocks instead of pouring concrete
  5. Use pressure-treated wood rather than composite decking

But those are only a few of the tips I used to save over $2,000 on the deck I built! Building a deck on a budget is not impossible, and you can do it yourself.

I built a deck on the back of my house in conjunction with my friend Dave back in 2016. It looks great, and we did everything ourselves and saved a boatload over what it would have cost to hire a deck-building company.

In this article, I will share with you the best possible steps you can take to build the perfect deck on a budget.

Ready to build your deck?

Ready to build your deck? Grab a copy of the plans (click to download from me) my friend Dave drew up for my deck!

What is the cheapest way to build a deck?

The cheapest way to build a deck starts by doing it yourself.

Building a deck with no experience requires you to do some research. You may begin by seeking information from any DIYer that has built a deck and how they were able to cut costs or use YouTube.

The first step is to search for free plans. Using more straightforward plans requires less work and fewer materials. Deck designs can be obtained online or in books. But if a simple rectangular deck is all you need, just click the link above to grab a copy of the plans I used for my deck.

You can go for designs slightly above your skill level if you are an excellent handyman.

Next, go for pressure-treated lumber as opposed to composite decking. Composite decking is the plastic wood stuff you see.

It will last longer than wood, need to be replaced far less often, and won’t require staining and re-staining. But it is a lot more expensive upfront. That being said, lumber costs have increased a lot in recent years, so it’s best to check prices.

Then as I mentioned up top, using inexpensive concrete deck blocks (about 5 bucks each usually) is WAY cheaper and easier than pouring concrete.

Lastly, if possible, have your deck float just above ground level. It will need far less support than a deck like mine that is a few feet off the ground. And less support means much lower lumber costs.

What is the cheapest material to build a deck out of?

Pressure-treated wood is undoubtedly the best cheap material for creating a deck. It is very affordable, and it will last longer if it is well maintained.

Although it may not last as long as composite decking, its high demand speaks for it in terms of quality. Aside from the fact that pressure-treated wood is cheap, it is the perfect material for DIYers, as it is easy to create plans with it.

Pressure-treated wood is made with chemicals to prevent decay and certain insects from making a habitat out of it and damaging it.

This is where the maintenance aspect of pressure-treated wood comes in. Getting pressure-treated wood for cheap comes at the price of maintaining it regularly.

The maintenance may cost you money, which might amount to the expenses of using composite materials for a composite deck after the summation.

Wooden decks require yearly maintenance, such as staining and painting, and they will often reduce in life span or break down if you are late on their maintenance.

Your second best option if you want something better is a wooden deck with a larger budget, which will be the composite deck. They come in different shapes, types, and colors and will last longer without spending money on maintenance.

But before you run down to Home Depot to get started, it’s worth getting started on a budget.

If you are having trouble creating a budget, I wrote about the seven steps to creating a budget in a recent article. There are only 7 steps needed in creating a budget. But if you don’t do them in the right order, it might never work.

Click on the link to read the full article on this website.

Can I build a deck directly on the ground?

Yes, you can build a deck CLOSE to the ground. But you never want the wood to actually touch the ground.

Naturally, wood tends to have a faster-decaying process when it is close to the ground. However, being close to the ground means it is up to or within 6 inches off the ground.

The best idea is to build a floating deck.

A floating deck is a wood deck that isn’t attached to any structure like the back of your house. They float above the ground and do not require deck railings since the deck is so close to ground level.

They make for a beautiful backyard deck.

A floating deck in most states does not require a building permit (but always check as states, cities, and counties can vary), and they are easier to build compared to other decks.

So do look into your local building codes on home improvements before commencing your construction.

To create a floating deck, you can either get a large amount of gravel to serve as its base or foundation, depending on the size of your deck. Then begin to construct your wooden deck on top of the gravel.

Or your second (and best) option is to use concrete blocks as the first layer before constructing your deck. Concrete blocks are very cheap, and you don’t necessarily need to get expensive ones.

I’ve used these exclusively for the deck at my last house and also used them for the deck around my above ground pool at my current house.

This will make a perfect floating deck for family get-togethers at any time of the day or during summer nights. To make your deck fancier, you may decide to create multi-level decks and use string lights to make your simple deck beautiful.

To prolong the lifespan of your floating deck, you need to clean the decks regularly to prevent moisture. You can use a sealer/stain combo to clean it regularly or at least once a year with a good decking solution.

A composite deck (the fake wood stuff) can be built to have direct contact with the ground, whether it is on soil or concrete. If it is concrete, the first step is to do a little survey to see if it is fit to support a deck. But personally, I still like the idea of using deck blocks even if you spring for composite decking.

As for soil, you need a substructure like treated lumber, metals, or materials accepted by your local building codes. This way, the deck boards can touch the ground without, and they will still be in very good condition.

How to build a deck on a budget step-by-step

To build a deck on a budget, you need to consider how large you want your deck to be to use fewer materials. A smaller deck would obviously require fewer materials.

And a square or rectangular deck will be easier and faster to build and have less waste since there won’t be any fancy cuts on the deck boards.

After you must have gotten a plan or deck design, you can proceed to source materials and tools.

Below is a step-by-step analysis of how to build a deck on a tight budget:

1. Use a free or very cheap deck plan

Using free deck plans will cut you some cash.

As an alternative, you can check online for cheap deck plans. You may want to go for a DIY deck within your skill set. Simple and smaller decks are easier to construct.

Some plans come with material lists and step-by-step processes to follow when constructing your own deck, but it might come at a price. Some deck builders give out free plans. You may need to do proper research to get access to one.

But again, you’re welcome to use the exact deck plans I used on my deck, totally free. Grab a copy of the plans here by clicking that link.

2. Rent or borrow tools

Instead of purchasing new tools for a one-time project, a great idea might be to rent them from someone who uses them regularly at a fair price or simply borrow from anyone with the tools. This will cut you some cash on tools you may never need to use.

In fact, many (but not all) Home Depot locations have a tool rental area.

Some of the tools you may need are;

  • A shovel
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Tape ruler
  • Hand saw
  • Hammer
  • Cordless drill
  • Level

You may already have some of these tools at home.

If the first two options of borrowing and renting don’t work, you can visit community marketplaces, downsizing auctions, or yard sales to get second-hand tools.

Jump right to my recommended tools and supplies page (click to see it)!

I only recommend the very top-rated tools and items, taking the worry and hassle out of figuring out what to buy.

You can get everything you need quickly and easily by ordering on Amazon or pre-ordering with Lowes or Home Depot and having it ready for pickup.

3. Constructing your foundation and framing

Foundations are very important for decks, and trying to cut costs or corners while constructing them may affect the outcome of your deck. To cut costs, a good idea would be to go for a deck that will not require a lot of money.

Floating decks do not require footings that go beyond the frost lines, making them cheaper to construct.

Pressure-treated wood works well with ground-level decks for framing, as they will not rot or decay.

In a recent article, I wrote how to build a deck step-by-step with pictures. It will be very helpful for beginners. Click on the link to find out the steps.

4. Decking

This is more like the last thing. The finishing touch makes it appealing to the eyes and shows the quality of materials used for your deck construction. You want to make it look good so people think a pro did it.

5 ½ inches in width is the typical deck board size.

That being said, you can make it narrower or wider. Generally speaking, the wider the deck board, the less individual pieces of wood you’ll need and the easier and faster it will be to construct.

Usually, they are an inch thick.

For length, 12′ to 16′ are the most common sizes. Depending on your plans, a longer board may mean fewer cuts. And fewer cuts mean less wasted wood.

💰Cheap DIY Floating Deck💰

Conclusion

Wanting to add value to your property or add more beauty to it is a good idea, and a great way to do this is by creating a new deck or revamping your existing deck without spending much money.

This article entails backyard deck ideas that will not cost you a fortune and steps to take to help create the perfect deck on a budget.

I concluded that using free or cheap plans and going for more affordable decks can save you some cash. Borrowing tools and equipment would also save you some cash. With these tips, you can build a long-lasting deck on a budget.

Ready to build your deck?

Jump right to my recommended tools and supplies page (click to see it)! I only recommend the very top-rated tools and items, taking the worry and hassle out of figuring out what to buy.

You can get everything you need quickly and easily by ordering on Amazon or pre-ordering with Lowes or Home Depot and having it ready for pickup.

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