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Cheapest Decking Boards and timber.

At the time of writing (April 2011) softwood decking is by far the cheapest of the decking materials available for constructing a meaningful deck.

As with all things in life, you get what you pay for. In making your choice of decking boards, make sure that you do not pay for what you get - especially if you are trying to source decking on the basis of cost alone. A cheap deck can cost much more in the long run -as well as having possible safety implications.

The guides set out below are simply that. A guide as to the cheapest way of making a serviceable deck that will last you a life time - provided that it is looked after and maintained in a proper manner. If quality is unimportant to you, then read no further, for this page is not for you!

The Cheapest Decking Boards.

The cheapest - or least expensive - decking boards and other deck construction materials are undoubtedly those made from one of the softwoods.

Plain deck together with raised deck and balustrades.Regardless of species of conifer used in the manufacture of softwood decking boards, joists, spindles and other deck components, they are generally classified into two basic categories, being redwood and whitewood. Redwoods are normally the better quality, being straight grained and virtually free from knots. Most softwood joinery class timber is classed as redwood. This is not to say that whitewood decking is inferior. It is simply different, and once laid, will look no different to the more expensive redwoods. Neither will redwoods last longer than whitewoods. That aspect will depend entirely upon how the wood has been treated with preservative. Most of the softwood decks in the images on this site have been constructed with European Redwood.

One of the things that will affect the cost of your deck, is the actual design and construction. In the image, the basic deck on ground level will be the cheapest form of decking, whilst the slightly raised higher deck - with stairs, balustrade, spindles and extra construction fittings will be considerably more - maybe even twice as much per square metre of deck as the basic ground level deck

Softwood decking is the cheapest decking material, simply because it is grown from the quicker growing conifer types of trees. Hardwood decking is normally imported from much further distances - other continents - and is manufactured from the much slower maturing broadleaf trees.

Cost of Basic Deck per square metre.

These estimates are variable according to where you live, and the sort of deal you can strike with your supplier.  The cost of a deck that is just slightly raised - but with balustrade railings, will be almost double that of a basic flat deck with no railings.

Timber decking can be obtained from a few of the multiple DIY stores such as Wickes and B&Q. Homebase, also stocks decking. These are quite convenient for local supplies and small decks, but better deals and longer deck lengths are normally best sourced at your local timber suppliers  - builders - merchants. many of these will stock wide range of deck-board lengths, together with Joist Timbers of differing lengths. Our estimates are for deck boards of no less than 28mm thick - being the preferred thickness for a substantial deck job and essential for a raised deck. Timbers sold at the DIY stores are not normally suited to high level decks.

144mm x 28mm (basically a 150mm - 6in board for estimating purposes - allowing for an essential 6mm min gap between deck boards) will cost around £2.50 = VAT per metre run, and are available in lengths of 2.8m - 3.6m and 4.8 metres. There are other lengths available, but these are around the standard sizes. Possibly less for a good quantity, and maybe a little more. Allow for 15% wastage for split ends and cutting to size. This is the timber industry norm. Joists 150mm x 50mm 6in x 2in) will cost in the region of £2.00 + VAT per metre. The lengths are similar to those of deckboards. Choosing a good length - or building your deck to suit the lengths of joist available, will prevent wastage with the joist timbers. Still best to allow 10% for wastage however.

Based upon those prices, the cheapest you can build a deck (Without labour costs) is around £25.00 - £30.00 per square metre of deck. This is based upon building a rectangular deck, at ground level, using 6in (150mm) joists. You should also add around a further £2.00 per square metre (min) of deck, to allow for fixings and support posts concrete, end seal preservatives etc.

Base your estimates on £30.00 min per square metre for the cheapest deck of substance. Tanalised softwood timbers.

Thus for a 4m x 3m 12 sq m) ground fixed deck with no balustrade railings, the cheapest sum would be around £360.00 for the basic materials. There might also be a delivery charge.

Yes - you could possibly get cheaper decking. No, I would not want to use it!

Balustrades and Railings.

Balustrades or railings - essential for some decks and certainly a good feature to finish off a ground level deck, will cost in the region of £15.00 - £20.00 per metre run and again are available from either DIY stores or the local Timber merchant. You can either get ready made units, individual components, or simply make the railings from timber such as we show on the site - with a continuous top hand rail. The cost of £20.00 per metre run, will include basic newel posts - or again, you can uses construction timbers - suitably planed and treated if you wish to have your own one-off design feature. It is best to buy proper spindles in this case. If you opt for lathe-turned spindles or fancy newels with knobs etc, then you can add a further 50% to the cost - taking it up to around £25.00 - £30.00 per metre run.

There are many other options for balustrade railings, but we are here taking of cheap or cheapest decking. I am writing about inexpensive decking rather than 'cheap' decking! 

The use of decking tiles is generally limited to a less substantial deck - and often at a higher cost for suitable deck tiles.

Likewise, decking kits are available from national suppliers. These are not normally the cheapest form of decking - if you comaper like for like relating to deckboard thickness and joist quality.

The prices quoted are possible, and you may even find cheaper. You will most certainly find more expensive options, and these are sometimes of superior quality. Shop around, get the best prices available, and above all deal with a company that is going to give you good advice. That alone can be worth several £'s per square metre if you are inexperienced!


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