Take your deck, fence, or walkway project from dream to reality by gathering basic cost information.
There's nothing like a great plan to make a landscape project a reality. A plan should include a thoughtful landscape design and a budget plan, too. We've researched costs associated with decks, fences, and walkways to provide some basic numbers that you can use to develop a rough project cost. Keep in mind that landscape costs vary greatly from region to region. Use the numbers below as a starting place, then talk to contractors in your area for estimates.
Material choice is the greatest factor in the cost of a deck. High-end materials have a higher initial cost, but their longevity is far greater than low-end materials, saving you money in the long run. Here is a summary of common deck materials.
Tropical hardwoods. Lasting 30–50 years, even in harsh coastal conditions, tropical woods such as ipe, cumaru, and tigerwood are popular decking material. However, the wood is incredibly dense and requires special tools for installation, increasing labor cost. Tropical woods weather to pale gray unless you oil the deck every year or two. An ipe deck can cost $23–$30 per square foot.
Capped composite. Nearly maintenance-free, capped composite deck material is available in a wide range of colors and textures. Capped composite decking is composed of an exterior layer of PVC surrounding a composite core. Avoid simple "composite" material as it requires periodic cleaning to look good. Capped composite material is a better choice and usually has a 25-year warranty. A capped composite deck can cost $20–$28 per square foot.
Cedar or redwood. An excellent midrange choice that costs less than tropical hardwoods or composite materials, cedar or redwood typically lasts 15–20 years. Cedar and redwood have all the maintenance requirements of wood products, including cleaning and regular staining or oiling. Cedar or redwood cost about $18–$20 per square foot.
Pressure-treated wood. A good choice for a limited budget, pressure-treated wood typically lasts 10–15 years and requires cleaning, sanding, and staining every one to two years. It costs $16–$18 per square foot.
Railings also add costs. A wood railing is typically $20–$25 per linear foot. A capped composite railing costs $60 or more per linear foot. Finally, a metal railing is usually $50 or more per linear foot for aluminum, more for iron.
Fencing costs, like decks, are influenced by material choice. A chain-link fence has a lower cost than a vinyl fence but it also has a completely different look. Your climate, the style of your home, and the purpose of the fence will play a role in selecting the material.
Wood. A wood fence can be stained or painted and used to create curves and decorative elements. However, it might rot and warp and the cost of lumber is rising. Plan to spend $13–$19 per linear foot.
Vinyl. A vinyl fence will last for 10 or more years without fading and a host of styles are available. Be sure to select a high-quality product, as low-quality vinyl will degrade quickly. Vinyl costs about $25 per linear foot.
Wrought-iron. Most fence products with a wrought-iron appearance are made of modern steel, which is less expensive than wrought iron and more flexible. A 6-foot-tall wrought-iron fence is about $22 per linear foot. A 3-foot-tall fence is usually about $14 per linear foot.
Bamboo. A great choice for decorative screens and privacy fencing, bamboo is easy to install and environmentally-friendly. It will rot in time and requires occasional maintenance to remain tidy. A bamboo fence is typically $9–$11 per linear foot.
Chain-link. A strong, long-lasting fence that is great for sports courts, chain-link is not the most attractive fence material. Choose a heavy-duty product for longevity. A chain-link fence usually costs $12–$14 per linear foot.
While material influences the cost of a walkway, labor is also a tremendous influence. A walkway that requires extensive excavation or an intricate design will increase labor costs significantly. Be sure to get at last three estimates for your project.
Concrete. Concrete walkways are typically $5–$16 per square foot and often the least expensive. The cost rises to the $16 range when stamping and coloring is added to give the material a unique look.
Brick. This choice usually costs $8–$12 per square foot and has an old-world charm.
Paver. Paver walkways are often $10–$25 per square foot. Count on a quality paver walkway to last for 20 years or more.
Natural stone. This walkway option is usually $18–$30 per square foot. Long-lasting with a natural appearance, stone walkways are at home in nearly any landscape.