The Best Budget Friendly Backyard Deck Ideas
By Axis Fuksman-Kumpa • December 22, 2022
A deck is a great addition to a backyard. Not only will it increase your home value, but it can encourage outdoor living and increase your living space exponentially.
Traditional decks are generally made from wood or composite decking, which is a manufactured combination of natural wood and plastic. There are pros and cons to both materials and your preferences will probably come down to personal preferences, budget and desired level of maintenance.
In this article we will discuss some ideas on a budget to update your deck, the most common types of decks as well as some alternative decking options.
First, let's delve in deeper to some easy backyard deck ideas on a budget - many can be great DIY projects you could tackle on a weekend.
Upkeep Ideas on a Budget
If you have an existing deck, there are some things you can do to help save money in the long run and things you can do to give your deck a refresh!
Replace Certain Deck Boards
Wooden decks can last a long time, especially if you keep an eye on them. There are some things you can watch for to know if it's time to repair a portion of your deck and then you can replace just that one section if you catch rot or damage early enough.
Things to check for include soft spots in your deck. This may mean that the wood is rotten.
Watch for loose floorboards. This fix could be as simple as tightening nails.
Keep a close eye on your railing and posts. Railings are an important feature in keeping your backyard deck safe.
Watch for insect damage as well and take care of any preventable issues before they get out of hand.
Power Wash Your Deck
Power washing is a very satisfying way to give backyard decks a quick clean up! Check the optimal pressure for the type of deck you have. For example, soft woods like cedar or pine, are generally recommended to power wash at about 500 to 600 psi. For harder woods, it can go up to 1200 to 1500 psi.
You can generally rent a power washer at a local hardware store or big box store.
Surround Your Deck with a Garden
Give your whole outdoor area a new look by updating the landscape design around a deck. The right landscaping can transform an outdoor space. Not only will good landscaping look beautiful, but it can improve your property value and encourage you to use your outdoor space more frequently.
Paint Your Deck
Fresh paint can make a huge difference on a deck. Whether you update chipping paint or sand and start fresh, paint and color can truly transform the look and feel of a simple backyard deck.
Interior Design Your Deck space
Think of your deck as an outdoor living space and decorate it accordingly. Add some throw pillows and hanging planters for a pop of color. Use string lights overhead to keep the gathering going past when the sun sets. Organize your seating in a great, conversational arrangement.
Shade is important for any space you are using frequently. This can be as basic as setting up a great umbrella or you can come up with more creative ideas like adding a shade sail over a small deck or grill area or an awning attached to your house. Set up a pergola with overhead beams that provide screening or side curtains you can draw to keep the setting sun out of your eyes.
Add an Outdoor Rug
Outdoor rugs can make a statement and/or make a small backyard deck seem super cozy. An outdoor rug can also delineate how you want a space to be used by showing lounge areas, pathways and setting boundaries. They are great on a small deck where there's limited room.
Backyard Fire Pit
A backyard fire pit is a fun feature the whole family could use. This can be as simple as a DIY portable pit from the local hardware store to a more elaborate option like a propane fire pit table.
Update your Lighting
Landscape lighting plays a big role in the feel of your outdoor space. The right lighting will highlight features (hardscape and softscape) and well as set the mood. It's also a critical part of making your yard safe. Lighting should be placed on stairways, pathways, or by entrances and exits.
Refresh your Surrounding Fence
Sometimes a privacy fence is a forgettable feature and blends in with the surroundings. Other times it can add to the look and feel of your design. A fantastic horizontal slat fence can be the perfect touch of modern. Or a decorative lattice fence may be the perfect compliment to an English garden.
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Things to Consider Before Your Update Your Deck
Before you start working on your deck there are a few things to consider.
Size & Scale
First, if you are building a new deck you will want to carefully think about what size fits into your space. Size and scale are as critical to your outdoors as they are to your indoors.
Layout of Features
You will also want to think about the layout of the features of your backyard, including where the deck should be. Think about who is using the deck and what the optimal placement is. Should it be right off the kitchen for easy use? Or do you have a nice patio there and a floating deck in a back corner is the perfect spot for a new living space.
Materials & Budget
Consider the specific materials you will use carefully. The materials that work best for you will depend on your climate, budget and your considerations around upkeep. When it comes to budget we love DIY projects, which is a great way to cut back on costs - and feel the reward of building something yourself.
Lastly, you'll want to do some research and find out if you need a permit to build or update your deck before you get started.
Types of Decks
There are a few different types options you can consider. All have pros and cons and will depend on your property, needs and budget.
Multi level decks are a great idea if you have a sloped yard or if you live in a bilevel home with the kitchen and/or living room on the second floor. This is often not the most budget friendly option because it will involve a staircase, but it is a great way to add entertaining areas.
Detached or Floating Decks
A floating deck is a free standing deck, almost like an island, placed somewhere on your property, but not connected to your house. A floating deck can be used to create a designated additional living space - whether it's a fire table nook, a separate dining area, or a lounge area to truly create a backyard oasis.
With this option you'll want to make sure you add landscaping so it has a purpose and seamlessly fits into your yard.
A wraparound deck will fold around at least two sides of your house. This can be an extremely functional type of deck depending on your property. Often times a deck entry may be on the side of the house and then it can wraparound to the backyard.
The key to this type of deck is to maximize its layout with a good design.
An all time favorite - a rooftop deck can be on top of a house, garage or another structure and will often offer a nice view. With this option you'll need to invest in safety features as they are not ground level. All railings, stairs and access points will need to be checked frequently.
Alternatives to a Backyard Deck
If you're not ready to spring for a backyard deck, you've got some other options. Some of our favorites include:
A simple brick patio is something you can DIY yourself. It's easy, doesn't have to be expensive and is great for a small backyard.
Poured concrete is one of the most inexpensive patio options. A simple concrete patio is a good option and you can spruce it up with the right outdoor furniture, planters and decor.
Gravel is inexpensive and low maintenance, beyond having to sweep debris and occasionally rake gravel back into place. A gravel patio is very common in Southwestern and modern landscaping and has a beautiful polished feel. You can add concrete pavers for some uniqueness and personality.
Wood chips can be another budget friendly idea, however they can be messy so may not be ideal for a frequently used area. However, if you have a quiet lounge area off the side of the home or corner garden nook, they can be a nice soft option for destination outdoor space.
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