Best Time of Year to Build a Deck
One often-overlooked factor in home improvement projects is the time of the year. Weather, contractor demand, and material supply vary significantly from season to season and can greatly affect your project’s timeline and outcome. And with the summer season right around the corner, you might be thinking about how you’ll spend your time outdoors and maybe even considering building a deck. But before you start anything, check out our guide on what time of year is best for building your dream deck.
What is the Best Time of Year to Build a Deck?
Deck building is unique because it’s one of a few outdoor living construction projects you can complete at any point in the year. Unfortunately, when painting a house, conditions like heavy rain prevent you from completing it. Now, that’s not to say that building a deck can also experience its fair share of weather-related delays, such as heavy snow or ice during the winter.
However, the most common assumption is that you should build a deck during warmer seasons because it will be easier to break ground for the footing. Limiting yourself to warm weather months puts you at a disadvantage when trying to hire a contractor as they will be experiencing a heightened demand, meaning your project could have a longer wait time. The timing of your deck build also affects the availability of the materials like lumber or composite decking, as they’ll be harder to purchase when demand is high.
So that leaves us with fall and winter. But which season is the best for building a deck? Industry professionals do not agree on the best time to construct a deck so let’s look at the different opinions.
Is Winter the Best Time to Build a Deck?
Deck builders and designers experience the lowest demand for their services from homeowners when it’s cold out. Because building a custom deck is a significant undertaking, this is probably the strongest argument for building during winter. You’ll likely be their only client or one of the few, meaning you’ll have more of their attention and might even be able to negotiate a lower rate and are less likely to experience industry-related setbacks.
The cold, hard ground is more conducive to digging for building a wood deck foundation. However, in the hot summer, the lumber is threatened by extreme humidity, whereas when the humidity is low in winter, the deck can better settle into the ground.
The only thing that can delay deck construction in the winter is heavy snow or ice. However, unless you live in an area where you experience extreme snow for the entire winter season, you’ll still have plenty of time to get your deck up in time for spring. This is why it’s a good idea to jump on the project in the earlier weeks of winter rather than waiting until January or February, when the risk of snow and ice is higher. It’s also good to know that winter is a more challenging time to apply a stain or sealant, which is best accomplished using the bright, direct sunlight of spring and summer.
Pros & Cons of Building a Deck in the Winter
- Lower demand for contractors and supplies
- The ground is more suitable for digging and laying the foundation
- Low humidity is better for lumber
- The deck will be ready for when spring arrives
- Extreme cold weather conditions can delay your deck project, especially if you wait too long
For more information, check out our blog on how to protect your deck for winter.
Is Fall the Best Time to Build a Deck?
Fall can be another great option to build your deck when the industry experiences the beginning of its off-season. At the end of summer, while other people are packing their outdoor furniture, decking contractors will likely be taking on fewer clients. Couple this with the temperature cooling off, meaning you’ll cause less harm to the landscaping of your backyard during construction. You’ll also be beating the spring rush by even more than if you were to start in the winter, and if you experience setbacks, you still have the entire winter to finish the project. It’s also a lot less likely your project will be delayed, considering that fall weather is much more predictable than winter.
You might also consider amenities for finishing your deck. For example, many contractors include lighting for your deck during construction. With a lower demand in these off-season months, you might be able to get more for your buck by negotiating.
Pros & Cons of Building a Deck in Fall
- Lower demand for contractors and building materials
- Earlier in the off-season gives you more time to complete the project
- Weather is slightly more predictable, making setbacks less likely
- The new deck will be ready in time for winter
- Possibility of delays due to ground freezing
- Colder months make it harder to apply deck stain
For a project that requires lots of planning, you’ll want your construction process to go as smoothly as possible. Building your deck in the winter is a great way to take advantage of both the optimal weather conditions and the contractors’ slow season. Not only will you be less likely to experience weather-related delays, but you might also be able to get a better deal because your contractor will probably be handling fewer clients in their off-season. And when the spring rolls around, you’ll be thankful you got your project completed early to spend the rest of the season enjoying your brand-new deck!