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5 Ways to Get the Best ROI on Your Deck Installation

Gorilla Vinyl DeckNow that spring has finally brought some sunny weather to the Pacific Northwest, many homeowners are getting ready to begin this year’s home improvement projects. The trend toward outdoor living spaces has carried over from last year, which means many are probably considering improvements to their decks or patios.

In today’s economy, it may seem hard to justify the large expense of building a new deck. What many homeowners don’t realize, however, is that a deck practically pays for itself in terms of the curb appeal and value it adds to your home. When properly planned, a deck installation can add more than three-quarters of its cost to the value of your home, according to Remodeling Magazine’s recent Cost vs. Value study.

Following are some suggestions for maximizing your deck’s return on investment:

1. Choose cedar decking materials.

Not only is cedar decking the most popular decking material in Portland and other Northwest cities, but a wood deck also provides the greatest return on investment, recovering up to 91 percent of its cost in the value of your home. From a practical standpoint, cedar is native to the area, which means as a decking material it’s well-suited to endure the abundant rain that characterizes the local climate.

Cedar decking even beats out low-maintenance composite decking, which adds up to 82 percent of its cost to the value of a home. While composite materials are less vulnerable to the elements than a cedar deck, Portland homeowners tend to prefer the natural appearance of wood.

2. Keep the deck design simple.

To get the biggest bang for your buck, Remodeling Magazine recommends a 16×20-foot deck design, with the cedar decking installed in a simple linear pattern. Be careful not to overwhelm your home with an oversized deck – an average cedar deck size typically equals about 12-18 percent of the square footage of your home.

Avoid any extremely unusual deck designs that seem out-of-place in the neighborhood or conflict with the style of your home. Remember, prospective buyers want to be able to envision themselves using your deck, so you want your deck design to have universal appeal.

3. Include a complete railing system.

When considering a home for purchase, buyers tend to prefer a deck design that features a full railing system. While there are many ways to customize your cedar decking, including adding unique handrails made from aluminum or stainless steel cable, such upgrades aren’t necessary to get the best ROI out of your deck. Remodeling Magazine suggests sticking with basic wood posts, railings and balusters.

4. Choose upgrades wisely.

Spending more money on expensive deck upgrades such as fully equipped outdoor kitchens can enhance your enjoyment of your outdoor living space, but it won’t necessarily pay off in terms of adding value to your home. Keep any deck improvements or additions on scale with the rest of your home and neighborhood, as you’ll most likely lose much of your investment on an over-the-top deck design.

Upgrades that do pay off for Northwest cedar decks: built-in benches and planters made from the same material as your cedar deck. Portland homeowners enjoy the space efficiency of built-in benches, which maximize seating without cluttering up your cedar decking with furniture, while planters provide a place to grow native plants. Both are inexpensive additions that help increase your cedar deck’s curb appeal.

5. Protect it with a patio cover.

A simple aluminum patio cover can go a long way toward protecting your investment by minimizing weather damage to your cedar deck. Portland residents also find that patio covers help them get more use out of their outdoor living space. A patio cover provides shelter from the Northwest rain, which allows homeowners to spend less time on cleaning and maintenance and more time enjoying the outdoors. Again, it’s not necessary to get elaborate; an inexpensive, low-maintenance patio cover will suffice.

A cedar deck is one of the top ten home improvement projects that pay off in the long run by adding value to your home. If you plan your deck design carefully, you can ultimately recover the majority of your costs – plus you get to reap the benefits of having your own outdoor living space.

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