Here are the principal costs for a standard 10-by-12 foot second-tier porch.
Labor & Expertise
Installing a second-story deck is not a DIY project due to the complex nature of construction and extensive building code requirements. Only a licensed professional can efficiently and effectively acquire the necessary permits, certifications of insurance and occupancy, inspections, and information regarding the increase to property taxes, not to mention their connection to established suppliers to ensure all material is of the highest quality and consistency. Plan to hire a contractor, an electrician, painters, and a structural engineer. All total, the cost will be between $35-$50 per square foot, or $5,000-$17,000 for a complete, second story deck construction.
The biggest factor contributing to the overall longevity and structural integrity of your second-story deck is building material. Here are the top five choices:
Pressure-treated (PT) wood is the number one choice for deck construction, used in more than 70% of porches built in the United States. Made of Southern yellow pine infused with a vacuum-sealed copper-based preservative, PT wood is favored for its resistance to fungus, insects, and termites. However, it must be treated with an oil-based sealant every year to protect against contact with harmful chemicals which are released into the air if burned.
On the downside, PT wood is not easily disposed of and must be handled by professionals.
On the upside, it comes with a limited lifetime warranty of 20-50 years and is cost-permissive at $2-$11 per square foot.
Cedar is in second place as top deck material, specifically the Western red cedar. Prized for its durability and sustainability, this tropical hardwood runs $3.85-$8.25 per square foot, and its soft nature requires a furniture-lifting over a furniture-dragging etiquette.
Composite woods made of polyethylene or polypropylene blend with real wood fibers. They mimic the grain patterns of natural wood.
On the downside, wood composites are significantly heavier than natural wood, so may require additional steel supports beneath the frame. Damaged planks can’t be sanded and must be replaced. And, the material traps and emits heat so it’s not ideal for bare feet in the summer.
On the upside, composites mimic the grain patterns and look of natural wood, while being nearly indestructible and affordable, running $7-$10 per square foot.
Natural hardwoods are always in demand, providing unmatched durability, strength, and beauty with rich earth tones and unique striations and stripings that can’t be manufactured or replicated. From Tigerwood to Ipe to Redwood, a natural deck will always steal the show, but it will often steal the bank savings! It’s advantages include long lifespans, enduring appeal, wow-factor, and structural integrity. It’s drawbacks include high-maintenance, annual staining, sealing, weather-and-water-proofing, slower installation, and increased overall costs ranging from $9-$25 per square foot depending on the species.
Aluminum is rising in ranks as a popular deck choice, due to its light weight and extreme durability. Also, aluminum planks have a built-in water control system, are resistant to cracks, warping, stains, insects, algae, and mildew, and stay cooler in direct sunlight.
On the downside, aluminum cutting requires special equipment and improper installation leads to sanity-destroying squeaking. Aluminum decks come with a lifetime warranty and run $13-$25 per square foot.
The next biggest expense for your second-story deck depends on whether you want it to be accessible only from the interior or also from the outside via a staircase. The former may require replacing a window wall with French doors, ($1,200-$6,000), while the latter necessitates a structurally sound staircase. No matter the style, traditional straight-way, “L”-shaped or spiral, this will cost between $1,500-$6,000.
Beyond that, additional costs for your second-story deck include any of the following:
- A covered enclosure, screened-in sunroom, pergola, or solarium
- Outdoor fireplace, oven or hot tub
- Misting Systems