When you are thinking about adding or replacing a wood deck to your home you need to do the math.
First is the actual cost of the materials. Pressure treated lumber is the most affordable decking material running at about $15 per square foot installed as a national average. A little bit more if you want additional decorative features. Cedar can run twice as much at around $30 per square foot but should last longer with proper maintenance, with Teak wood setting you back the most between $40-60 per square foot, but it can stand the most weathering with the least amount of maintenance. You can also consider composite decking which will not require repeated staining or sealing but that will run between $25 to $50 per square foot installed, almost as much as Teak, for your initial investment.
Once you have decided on the size of your deck and the material you can not forget the maintenance costs. This is the major contributing factor of how long your deck will last. Most decks will cost over their life time any where from $300 - $1,200 dollars a year to maintain. This will vary not only because of the size and material of your deck but with the amount of cleaning, type of staining and sealing that is required and if you do the work yourself or hire it out to a professional. Even with a professional the costs will vary due to the quality of the contractor and the materials they are using. It will not pay in the long run to hire some one cheap that uses inferior products that will cause you to rehire some one the very next year vs. a competent contractor using superior products that will last 3-5 years before the work needs to be repeated.
The way to tell if your deck needs treatment is to throw a bucket of water at it or look at it right after a hard rain. If the water beads up, then your sealant is working. If the water is absorbed by the decking, then it's time to reseal. A deck that isn't sealed properly is vulnerable to the elements and could experience rotting, warping and splitting. Routine maintenance is far cheaper than replacing the deck so make sure you keep your decking in tip-top shape. Stain is not weather proofing, only a color enhancer, you need a sealer for that.
Even woods that do not requiring routine staining and sealing need to be cleaned and cleaned correctly so not to destroy the wood and its own natural properties. Be sure the contractor you hire is experienced with your type of decking. Even composites need cleaning, especially for mold and mildew and they can be damaged if cleaned with improper chemicals.
Knowing the costs beforehand can help you make the right decisions when it comes to choosing materials and who to hire to do the job. Keeping your deck in top shape will increase its life and there by reduce the yearly cost by spreading them over a longer period of time.
To find a professional contractor to clean or stain and seal your deck check out one of these links:
http://www.bbb.org/search under “deck cleaning and waterproofing” or “pressure washing” in your area
You can also get products to use for your self at www.shopsoapwarehouse.com.