Let’s talk about that spot in your backyard. The one that’s perhaps a bit neglected, but it does have potential. It’s sunny, with dappled shade, plus it has a view! All it needs now to make it an extension of your living space is a budget backyard deck idea!
Building a deck can be an unnerving prospect, all that woodwork and digging! And professional decking contractors charge a fortune.
Forget the fear and hype! Get ready for a down-home, budget-friendly primer. We’re talking about a master class on budget backyard deck construction! (Easy DIY style.)
With a basic understanding of deck construction principles, an inspired deck design, and the necessary materials and tools, you’ll sit pretty on your bespoke and self-made backyard deck!
Then let’s rock this boat!
- How to Build a Backyard Deck on a Budget
- 15+ Backyard Deck Ideas on a Budget – Our Official List
- 1. DIY Elevated Porch Deck
- 2. DIY Backyard Pool Deck
- 3. Easy DIY Backyard Floating Deck
- 4. Super-Cheap DIY Backyard Deck with Pallets
- 5. DIY Low Second Porch Deck
- 6. Easy DIY Ground-Level Backyard Deck
- 7. DIY Hot Tub Backyard Deck with Pergola
- 8. DIY All-Weather Porch Deck with Roof and PVC Sides
- 9. DIY Deck with Micro Cabin
- 10. Quick & Easy Freestanding Deck with OSB & 2x4s
- 11. DIY Backwoods Deck Around a Tree
- 12. DIY Historic Bushcraft Deck
- 13. Innovative Notched Timber Frame Deck with Roof
- 14. DIY Cattle Panel Deck Rail
- 15. Final Tips for Your Backyard Deck Build
- In Closing
How to Build a Backyard Deck on a Budget
Want to build a backyard deck on a budget? Then select a deck design that stylishly extends your living area without straining your financial and DIY limits. Strike a balance between low-cost materials, functionality, ease-of-build, and building code compliance. Fit your deck with budget outdoor accessories.
The cool thing about backyard decks is that they’re customizable.
- Decks can be built on a slope, next to a pool, alongside your house, or be detached and floating.
- If you opt for a simple deck design idea, you can complete your DIY deck in a matter of days without calling in the professionals!
That’s the easy part. But there’s a downside to deck construction. Some backyard deck designs must comply with local building codes – especially in designated locations.
But the good news is that modest deck designs usually don’t need official clearance!
And that’s what we have in mind in this article – accessible deck ideas that inspire and empower you to successfully build a low-cost backyard deck!
In short, read on for a roadmap to building a deck that makes you happy!
(Before we break out the deck plans – we have some inspiration to get you excited.)
Step 1. Soak Up Some Inspired Deck Designs
By now, you’ve got a clear idea of where to erect your deck. (Yeah, that underutilized area of your yard). All you need now is some decking eye candy!
- Allow your imagination to run free while watching videos or a slideshow on innovative deck designs (you can mute the audio).
- You’ll need to install deck rails if you want a deck elevated above the ground by 20 inches or more.
- Get your peepers on these stunning deck railing ideas.
Don’t let the pro-level finishes of the decks in these presentations scupper your deck dream.
You can DIY a funky, safe, and practical deck with railings with the right approach – slow and steady does it!
- Use the ideas as pointers – extract design elements that fit your space, aesthetics, skills, and budget.
- Screen-grab an idea or two from the slideshow (and pics) and start sketching a deck design for your backyard.
- Spend time in the location where the deck will be situated and tweak your design to accommodate for ground slope, trees, privacy, sun, shade, and water runoff.
Remember: Keep your deck design simple and budget-friendly. You can always add more decking in the future.
Step 2. Use Free Online Deck Design Resources
Deck design and construction can be tremendously technical, demanding tons of hardware, special tools, and specialized talents. Thankfully a straightforward backyard deck can get built without expensive gear or pro skills.
- You can get FREE online deck design resources from industry professionals to help you DIY a functional and compliant backyard deck!
Buff up your deck design and construction knowledge with these sites:
- Learn the anatomy of a deck and the terminology used by the pros at decks.com.
- Register online for a FREE 3D deck design tool from decks.com.
- Get Code compliance requirements for a deck attached to a single-story dwelling from the American Wood Council.
- How to DIY the best foundation footings for your deck, courtesy of decksgo.com and decks.com.
- Build a safe and durable deck with this deck load calculator from decksgo.com.
- Get the lowdown on different decking board types and treatments at rona.ca.
- DIY a freestanding elevated deck abutting your house with this comprehensive video tutorial series from Lowe’s Home Improvement.
Study the information presented and pinpoint which foundation type best suits your backyard.
Consider a combination of foundation types – for example:
For a sloped yard, one side of the deck may only need ground-level (aka grade-level) concrete footers for beams, while the down-slope end may require concrete piers set below ground level to anchor tall posts.
- Be creative with your choice of foundation and decking board layout.
- Envision your deck with furnishings, a shade solution, surrounding plant life, and perhaps even a fireplace.
In a nutshell – get acquainted with the technicalities of deck design and construction, and then let your maverick DIY spirit run free!
15+ Backyard Deck Ideas on a Budget – Our Official List
Now that we’ve prepared, let’s check out the 15 backyard deck ideas.
We’ll start with one of our favorites.
Gather your lumber and hammers.
Let’s have some fun!
1. DIY Elevated Porch Deck
This video demonstrates how a hardware supplier like Lowe’s can help you build a compliant and pro-quality deck that sits alongside your house.
DIY guy, Third Coast Craftsman, uses Lowe’s online deck design software to construct a freestanding elevated porch deck with railings and stairs.
- The deck design doesn’t rely on the house wall and foundation for support, which saves installing a ledger board (and waterproofing) onto the house, not to mention tricky code compliance requirements.
- The elevated deck uses concrete piers – made by digging holes and pouring concrete into cardboard tubes (aka forms). You can get the cardboard tubes at your local building supplies or hardware store.
- The 6″ x 6″ pressure-treated wood posts are mounted onto the concrete piers using galvanized steel post anchor brackets.
- The deck beams are mounted with a ½-inch slope to allow for water runoff.
- Weed barrier fabric is nestled on the earth beneath the deck and covered with gravel.
The build makes use of a miter saw. If you don’t own one, you can rent one!
It’s an impressive backyard deck that ticks all the boxes. And you have the DIY video to guide you on your way!
2. DIY Backyard Pool Deck
Fancy a spot of backyard Tropicana? How’s a budget aboveground pool with a wooden deck sound? Look at how Maker Gray makes light work of a pretty pool deck!
- This NO-DIGGING elevated pool deck uses concrete post blocks for the deck foundation.
- The posts are 4″ x 4″ pressure-treated lumber.
- The decking boards are 2″ x 6″ pressure-treated lumber.
- An essential tool for this build was a set of bar clamps.
- A jigsaw creates the curved decking above the pool rim.
- You can buy plans here.
We dig this build because it’s simple and can get made by one person. And, the deck can effortlessly move – thanks to the concrete deck blocks.
3. Easy DIY Backyard Floating Deck
Plastic deck blocks are also a great way to deck a level spot in your garden. Instead of using concrete blocks, DIY a floating deck with a lightweight but strong plastic floating foundation!
- The plastic footers and deck rest on hard ground (no grass) with a layer of limestone paver screed that creates a level base for the footers.
- A steel tamper tool compacts the limestone substrate.
- A weed barrier gets added to the substrate.
- You don’t need deck posts for this design! The deck beams rest directly in the plastic footers to create a low deck frame for the joists.
- The beams and joists get protected from rot with waterproofing tape.
- The pressure-treated deck boards screw to the frame with a unique screw and gap tool.
- A 1/8-inch gap between the deck boards allows for timber expansion and contraction.
The low profile this deck presents is ideal for cozy corners in your garden. And, with less timber on the shopping list than taller decks, your budget will be smiling too!
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4. Super-Cheap DIY Backyard Deck with Pallets
For the cash-strapped yard lover, here’s a cheap and cheerful plan to get you sitting comfortably outdoors on a deck made from cheap pallet wood! Thanks to The Will To Make!
This deck abuts the house but is freestanding. Well, it doesn’t stand at all! It lies directly on the grass-free hard ground.
Pallets are laid alongside one another to create a sub-frame for plywood underlayment and picket fence deck boards.
- A reciprocating saw works magnificently to cut a few pallets to size.
- Picket fence boards are perfect for a deck fascia.
- Paint the deck to protect the wood from rot and mold.
- It isn’t the prettiest deck in the world, but it does the job! Budget-friendly function over form!
5. DIY Low Second Porch Deck
What do you do if the original porch on your house doesn’t have the correct orientation – you know, not enough privacy, faces the wrong way?
The solution is to build a second porch – a freestanding deck that serves an exterior doorway, like this one from The White Apartment!
- This easy DIY project does require digging holes for the deck posts.
- Rent a powered auger to drill the holes for the 4″ x 4″ deck posts.
- Dig below the frost line to prevent the deck posts from being pushed upwards in freezing weather.
There’s a beautiful simplicity about this deck. It’s low and stable, and it looks great. Plus, it’s achieved that all-important privacy factor!
6. Easy DIY Ground-Level Backyard Deck
Here’s a great step-by-step guide to building a simple backyard deck that will last years! With precast concrete footers and standard dimensional lumber, you can DIY the excellent backyard deck of your dreams, just like this one built by Family Handyman.
- The easy way to build a deck (as explained in this guide) is to assemble the frame beams first, ensuring all corners are 90 degrees (aka square).
- The frame then goes on the ground as a template for positioning the concrete footers.
- With the footer positions marked, the frame gets removed, and shallow holes get dug for each footer.
- This build uses DIY concrete footers with galvanized steel adjustable post anchors bolted to the concrete.
- With the concrete footers in place and level – the frame, joists, and decking boards can be nailed or screwed into place.
- The deck boasts a stunning picture frame border and a handsome blonde stain!
This guide to easy decking makes an excellent manual for a fun family project with intermediate DIY skills and a modest budget!
7. DIY Hot Tub Backyard Deck with Pergola
An outdoor hot tub deserves a wooden deck! The thing is, hot tubs are heavy, especially when loaded with people! Naturally, a hot tub deck has to be strong!
This hot tub deck design from Charlie DIYte sports a low-level frame and joist sub-frame, supported by 4″ x 4″ posts set below ground level in concrete and several bricks set on concrete below the joists.
- The posts serve as the uprights for the pergola.
- Bitumen is used to treat the deck framing against rot.
- A pick mattock is the best budget tool to clear the ground of grass and to dig footer holes.
Charlie goes to great lengths to list tools and materials in this video. He makes it look easy! And it is!
8. DIY All-Weather Porch Deck with Roof and PVC Sides
If your existing concrete stoop is an eyesore, a covered deck is an answer to create a stylish extension to your living space!
This video by Fardinger shows how easy it is to DIY an all-weather deck to cover the old stoop and add another room to your house.
- The sub-frame of the deck rests on DIY concrete footers.
- Joists get supported by concrete footers and ceramic tile shims.
- The posts for the roof are notched and anchored to the deck beams with steel brackets.
- A polycarbonate roof is attached to timber roof trusses.
- Custom-made PVC panels with zips attach to the posts for weatherproofing.
Look at how well the deck is doing three years after the build.
No leaks! Cozy and hurricane-proof! Superb!
9. DIY Deck with Micro Cabin
Adding a simple A-frame micro cabin on top of your backyard deck will add to the build cost, but not by much, if you do it a la Girl In The Woods! Imagine – a cabin deck for al fresco dining with a guest room/she-shed en-suite!
The design is surprisingly straightforward:
- A low deck with beams and joists set on concrete deck blocks with a combo of decking boards and plywood for the decking.
- The plywood serves as the floor for the cabin.
- The cabin walls are tongue and groove timber.
- A polycarbonate picture window/awning creates an instant transformer deck!
The cabin is perfect for storing your BBQ equipment too!
Check it out! It’s magical!
10. Quick & Easy Freestanding Deck with OSB & 2x4s
Can you build a backyard deck with just 2″ x 4″ boards, OSB boards, and screws? Yes! Watch how Modern Builds whips together a temporary deck on a slope in the desert with simple tools and a brilliant DIY design!
The cost of the build is kept low with the Spartan choice of materials:
- The frame (beams, joists, and posts) gets made using standard 2″ x 4″ lumber.
- The deck surface is a low-cost OSB board.
- Decking screws secure the entire structure.
- If you live in an area with buckets of rain and snow, place concrete pavers under each post to prevent the deck from sinking.
- Coat the deck with a waterproof sealant/paint/stain.
Amazing! See how simple it can be to get a deck up and riding – at a super-low cost!
Watch it NOW!
11. DIY Backwoods Deck Around a Tree
Many established gardens have a unique tree just begging for a wraparound deck! Here’s a great how-to video by Bush Radical showing how easy it is to make the most of your favorite tree!
(The deck build part of the video starts at the 15 min mark.)
A newly-built timber cabin gets an elevated tree deck, carefully constructed using the following.
- 6″ x 6″ posts (notched for optimum beam support).
- 2″ x 6″ beams and joints.
- Joist hanger brackets.
- Deck screws and deck nails.
- A reciprocating saw can cut the decking boards to fit around the spruce tree.
A set of stairs adds the final rustic touch!
The low-tech approach of this build adds to the charm of the deck, the cabin, and the tree!
12. DIY Historic Bushcraft Deck
For all our chainsaw and axe enthusiasts – this one’s for you! You can DIY a traditional/historic deck with a roof using a few power tools and basic hardware, just like this one posted on YouTube by Quantum Tech HD.
Two Siberian guys traditionally build a log cabin and add a deck (the deck build part starts at the 12-minute mark) made using felled lumber, milled, cut, and notched logs, hammered and drilled into shape in what I can only describe as an unconventional deck construction method!
- Log ends are burnt in a fire to preserve the timber, preventing rot and termite infestation (AKA shou sugi ban in Japanese).
- Keep an eye out for the use of rebar as joinery hardware.
- A combination of chainsaw-milled logs and tarp material makes a solid roof.
- Logs get fashioned into a rustic deck table and bench unit.
If you’re into exotic garden features, this deck design will seriously up the ante. For sure!
13. Innovative Notched Timber Frame Deck with Roof
A wise way to cut the deck construction cost is to use alternative joinery methods. How about a deck that uses no brackets? Watch how Lesnoy builds a lovely timber deck and roof without conventional decking hardware, opting for classic notched joinery methods, plus lots of nails.
Standard dimensional lumber used includes:
- 4″ x 4″ boards for beams, joists, and posts.
- 1″ x 4″ for decking and roof trusses.
- 2″ x 6″ for rafters.
The deck foundation uses cinder blocks.
- Skilled use of a chainsaw, circular saw, hammer and chisel, and nails enable an ingenious and cost-effective deck build.
Lesnoy extends the build to make a fantastic workshop. In your backyard, the deck alone will do the trick. Add the roof and wall. And the structure could become the ultimate rustic outdoor eatery!
Think about it!
14. DIY Cattle Panel Deck Rail
Try this deck railing idea for size. A low-cost cattle panel framed in lumber! What could be simpler for a safe and earthy deck rail?
Watch how GrowingUpHolt incorporates a standard cattle panel into his deck rail framing.
15. Final Tips for Your Backyard Deck Build
Beyond standard deck building rules of thumb, such as waterproof wood, level surfaces, and structural integrity, there are a few pointers worth bearing in mind:
- Invest in a speed square and a spirit level.
- If you use timber posts set in concrete, make sure they rate for ground contact.
- If you opt for concrete or plastic deck blocks, make sure they sit on compressed earth.
- If your deck is to get affixed to your house, check with your local building authority for code compliance requirements.
- Rent special tools like a miter saw, power-auger, nail gun, etc.
The Complete Guide to Decks, 7th Edition, by Black & Decker and Cool Springs Press, is an excellent reference for any homesteader building a DIY deck. The chapters include deck planning & design, materials & tools, structural support, decking, railings, stairs, finishing, maintenance, and more.
After this deck odyssey, we trust your timbers are alight with excitement. Remember, you’re on a budget, so keep it simple.
Build your deck as low to the ground as possible and use floating concrete or plastic blocks/footers wherever possible.
Indeed, stay grounded, financially liquid, and relaxed on one of these budget-savvy backyard deck ideas!
Backyard Deck Ideas on a Budget Resources, Guides, and Works Cited: