Wood deck versus concrete

mgabrielSeptember 13, 2008

Does anyone know the pros and cons of building a wood deck versus concrete? Also, which one is most likely to be more expensive and by what percentage?

thanks,

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chisue

If this must be a raised structure, I'm sure the concrete will cost more, if only to support it.

I'm no fan of decks, period. Very happy to have 'on the ground' Brussels Block terraces that need no maintenance.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2008 at 4:58PM
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phoggie

Concrete will crack, but I would never, never, do a wooden deck that needs to be stained again.....I am going to use the composite next time....a bit more costly, but I refuse to do anymore staining of decks!

    Bookmark   September 13, 2008 at 5:46PM
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robin0919

Are you talking about a patio vs raised wood deck? If so, a patio is much less expensive and basically no maint.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2008 at 11:15PM
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mikeyvon

IMO, nothing can beat the beauty and warmth of a real wood deck. hands down - no contest.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2008 at 12:35PM
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meldy_nva

My Q same as Robin's.

"Deck" normally means open flooring, up in the air [with or without walking space beneath]. Concrete isn't often used in such a circumstance because of the very high cost of support in comparison to the support required for wood or plood. You'll have to do your own price comparisons due to the great differences between areas/states, but it would not surprise me to see concrete cost at least twice that of a well-designed wood deck.

Concrete (or patio blocks, stepping stones, brick) when laid on the ground is *much* lower in cost and also much lower in maintenance requirements compared to wood. Wood must be raised and structurally supported regardless of distance from soil -- 2 feet up is only a little less costly than 20' up.

Wood can be very, very attractive but beauty comes with an ongoing price in the form of regular upkeep required. (Sure, you can ignore the upkeep, but it will quickly look ignored!) Depending on the wood species and finish selected, be prepared to re-finish every couple years.
A deck is one place where plood can be a serious contender. The initial outlay is higher than wood, but ongoing upkeep is negligable. This is especially true if you are considering painted elements, and if you live in a variable- or extreme-weather area.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2008 at 8:42AM
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mgabriel

It will be screened in which will protect it from natural elements. We are leaning towards concrete because of the low maintenance factor but we are building on a budget.

thanks for the input.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2008 at 8:58AM
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meldy_nva

Screening keeps bugs out, but it will let rain in.

Roof overhang or entirely covering deck area will help keep weather out but anytime the wind blows from the right direction while it's raining or snowing, there will be moisture coming through the screen. (Guess who learned that one the hard way! -- and just because one puts a porch on the lee [non-weather] side does not mean it will never see rainy-windy weather.)

Remember there are two things to consider when you budget: The initial cost of the item, and the cost of keeping it looking nice over its lifetime...

The least expensive permanent deck is probably ground-level, with a proper below-frost-line foundation and base with a walking surface of re-claimed brick or homemade pavers or spread concrete. The more labor you do yourself, the less $$ you will spend. If you go the paver route, you can save quite a lot by learning to make your own. IMO, it is worth spending money to have low-maintenance framing; go for plood or use multiple layers of marine-grade finishes on all wood surfaces.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2008 at 2:25PM
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robin0919

What is plood? I thought it was a misspelled word..... A concrete patio will run less than 50% of what a wood deck would cost to install.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2008 at 6:57PM
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meldy_nva

Sorry, I shouldn't have used a confusing term. Plood is slang, contracting 'plastic' and 'wood'. Refers to those products often called "recycled plastic lumber." In various forms, they've been around for decades. The best are insect-resistant, fade-resistant, rot-resistant, and have many of the characteristics of solid wood. There IS variance in strength and stress, so it's usually easiest to get the manufacturer's assistance in choosing the best product for the use.

Your price comparison [unfortunately, even direct from the manufacturer, plood can be $$] should take into account the cost of labor and materials for adequately preparing solid wood as well as future upkeep. If *you* do the labor on pre-finishing all sides of each piece of wood, as well as better than adequate finishing of the completed project, then it is probable that wood will be cheaper to use. However, if you hire the labor to pre-finish and finish then the comparison reverses to become more favorable to plood. Future maintenance costs heavily favor the use of plood.

Do keep in mind that pre-finishing all cut sides of the wood is a craftsman's viewpoint and will NOT be done as a part of the usual tradesman's job. For the everyday carpenter/contractor, the fact that pre-finishing greatly extends the life of the wood (as well as increasing insect- and rot-resistance) does not offset the great cost of labor! After all, the contractor is trying to balance materials, time, and labor costs so that he can still make a slight profit while bidding low enough to get the job -- and most people would rather save a few hundred now [even when understanding they will be paying those hundreds in the future for upkeep].

    Bookmark   September 16, 2008 at 7:47AM
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