Rehab Cost Estimation: Wood Decking Alternatives

You have decided to replace your wood deck and are now considering other deck materials to use. Fortunately, you can choose from many wood decking alternatives that provide you with a high-quality, strong, durable deck. These decks can vary in terms of life span, appearance, cost, safety, shock absorption, noise reduction, and impermeability to the elements and pests. So, before you decide which alternative material to use for your wood deck renovation project, consider the pros and cons of each material and what your needs are when it comes to your deck.

Wood Deck Replacement Cost 

Replacing a wood deck will cost you anywhere from $4,000 to $14,360. The cost depends on the material cost, labor cost, contractor fees, costs of permits, size of the deck, design/style of the deck, railings, and substructure. Also, the cost will be influenced by how much of the old deck material can be reused, whether you can get a discount on the cost of materials, and how much of the work you can do yourself. So, to get a better idea of what it will cost to replace your wood deck, get some estimates from at least three contractors and compare their proposals.

Price Comparison: Deck Options Other Than Wood 

If you don’t want to use wood decking for your new or replacement deck, you can choose from a variety of materials that can be used in its place. The materials, like wood, have their pros and cons, and the best one for you will depend upon your climate, home, preferred level of maintenance, and aesthetic tastes.

Composite Decking Cost 

Composite decking material is very popular because of its durability and strength. It is composed of wood fibers and recycled plastic. Some pros are that it’s UV resistant, impervious to pests, and slip-resistant. Another bonus, it’s low maintenance. It will cost $10 to $15 per square foot.

The drawbacks are that it does not have a natural wood-like appearance. It may have a plastic-like appearance. Other problems with it include the necessity of collecting non-biodegradable shavings from it, discoloration over time, some kinds are not in compliance with building codes, and the joists must be closer together to prevent sagging or bowing.

PVC Decking Cost 

PVC decking doesn’t splinter like wood does and has noise reduction characteristics. It can withstand the elements, pests, mildew, and rot. Bonus, it is incredibly budget-friendly and looks like wood. This will cost you $4 to $13 per square foot.

Drawbacks, it has a shorter life span than wood and is likely to bow or warp. It can become brittle in some climates too. Lastly, it will fade over time if exposed to the sun, and it’s not an environmentally friendly material.

Vinyl Decking Cost

Vinyl decking is highly resistant to wear and tear, durable, and water-resistant. Also, when exposed to the sun, it has a high resistance to UV rays and sun damage. Some brands have become known for their vinyl’s shock absorption, heat resistance, and scratch and stain-resistance features. They are also resistant to rot, mold, and pests. These tiles will cost you $4.24 to $8.35 per square foot.

Vinyl tiles are designed to be used on concrete slabs. They are the easiest way to give new life to cracking, worn-looking, or ugly concrete slabs. Moreover, they can be installed quickly, have many different colors, and are great for DIY projects. Plus, they can be made using many different types of material. For homeowners who want no maintenance decking that complements any landscape, these tiles are ideal.  

Drawbacks are that vinyl tiles are considered a kind of ‘temporary’ decking and are on the costly side. They do not add value to your home.  Appearance-wise, they are not seamless and don’t attach to surfaces. Vinyl tiles can become brittle with age. Their life span is shorter than wood and composite decking. The material isn’t biodegradable and must be cleaned regularly to remove dust. Also, they need a base or substructure to lie upon (e.g., concrete patio), and they must still be treated annually. Finally, they cannot be used in curved designs.

Aluminum Decking Cost

Aluminum decking lasts a long time and is impervious to mildew, mold, rust, and rot. It is easy to maintain, has the highest durability and strength of any decking material, and the finish is aesthetically pleasing. The lightweight material is easy to install, and when removed, it can be recycled, too. Aluminum decking will cost you $6 to $15 per square foot.

Drawbacks, it’s more expensive than other materials. It has a noisy surface, and there are limited colors available. Although it’s more expensive than other materials, it can be difficult to find a sufficient supply of it.

Bamboo Decking Cost 

Bamboo decking is rapidly gaining popularity because homeowners like its durability, strength, moisture resistance, and aesthetically pleasing appearance. The kind of bamboo decking used are woven fibers and non-woven fibers. The woven fibers product is the stronger of the two. Its natural beauty aside, it has a long life span. For maintenance, it must be sealed and stained or pigmented. Bamboo does not expand or contract, so cracking is not an issue with this material. It will cost you $3 to $4 per square foot.

Drawbacks, in the USA, bamboo decking is expensive. When used in areas with lots of rain, flooding, puddling, or marshy land, bamboo has a short lifespan. It will quickly deteriorate and become mildewy. Its colors fade over time, and it needs regular maintenance and upkeep to remain in good condition.

Rubber Patio Decking Cost

Rubber patio decking is made from recycled tires. It is durable, resistant to wear and tear, and easy to install and replace. It is a slip-resistant, shock-absorbing material that also reduces noise. Rubber patio decking is less likely to crack or chip as a result of inclement weather. Also, it is not necessary to install it on a perfectly flat surface. It will cost you $10 to $16 per square foot.

Drawbacks, rubber patio decking is not as attractive as other decking material, likely to shift over time, and may need to be pulled up and reset. 

Interlocking Grass Deck Tiles Cost

Interlocking grass deck tiles are made of high-quality, durable, low-maintenance grass that you don’t need to mow, fertilize, or treat for pests. They have great drainage systems, so cleaning them is easy. These tiles provide your deck with natural beauty, and they are also environmentally friendly. They can be recycled after removal. Furthermore, they are non-toxic and safe for children and pets. The tiles are perfect for outdoor activities, events, and gatherings. Plus, they can be used in any climate. Lastly, they are great for shock absorption, pressure relief, and are fire retardant. These tiles will cost you $7.00 to $8.75 per square foot. A drawback is that they require backup glue for maintenance.

What Is Cheaper – Wood Deck or Concrete Patio?

First, let’s clearly define a wood deck and concrete patio. A wood deck is a raised platform made of wood that can be situated at ground level or high above the ground. A concrete patio is an outdoor seating area made of concrete that is usually situated at ground level. Both can be used for similar activities and may be located in similar areas. In general, patios are cheaper than decks but have a lower return on investment if you sell your home.

If you have a 16′ x 20′ deck, it will, on average, cost you $7,500 to $15,000. The average cost of a 16′ x 20′ patio is $2,500 to $9,500. The cost of your wood deck and concrete patio will depend on the kinds of material used for each, location of the structure (e.g., ground-level or higher than ground level), features (e.g., railings, BBQ grill, seating), size, and style/design. There are different types of wood and concrete materials that can be used for decks and patios.

Consider the following factors before deciding if the wood deck or concrete patio would be cheaper for you. The factors are:

Preparation of Location

Patios can only be placed on a flat, level ground. So, if the ground is sloped or not level, the homeowner will have to install a level foundation before the patio can be installed. The cost of the foundation may be two to three times the cost of the actual patio. So, if the ground is not level, it may be cheaper to install a deck, which does not require a level base.


It’s easier and cheaper to install a patio. A patio can be installed by the homeowner (DIY) or a contractor. Patios must be installed on level ground. If you are using poured concrete, it must be reinforced with rebar, and the soil underneath it must be compacted soil. So, the major expense is preparing the land if it’s not level.

On the other hand, wood decks should be installed by contractors. Decks require structural supports, railings, a substructure, and the posts must be cemented into the holes drilled into the ground. Also, decks must be attached to your home. So, you will most likely need to apply waterproofing materials to prevent damage to your home’s foundation.


Wood decks require more maintenance than concrete patios. Wood decks must be washed annually and resealed every two to three years to protect the wood from rot, moss, mildew, and pests. Also, wood decks should be stained every two years to boost their life span and durability.

A patio can be cleaned with a water hose and has minimal ongoing maintenance. It must be inspected regularly for cracks. If there is cracking, water may seep through the cracks and erode the soil underneath the patio. In extreme cases, the patio cracking may be so severe that the entire patio must be removed and replaced. 

Return on Investment (ROI)

On average, ROI on a wood deck is approximately 75% at the time you sell your home if the wood deck is in good condition. The deck may also increase the value of the home. Also, an increase in the property values of local homes may lead to an increase in the value of your home and the deck you installed.

Patios have a maximum ROI of 50%. A patio can increase the value of your home if the patio is a centerpiece of the home and provides a private sanctuary that is desirable and of value to potential buyers.


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