Updated April 29, 2022
Reviewed by Andy Kilborn, Expert Home Building and Remodeling Contributor. Written by HomeAdvisor.
The cost to build a steel deck frame ranges from $1,000 to $18,700, though you can easily pay more if you'd like an extra large deck or have a complex design scheme.
If you build the deck frame yourself using the most economical materials, you can pay as little as $900 for a 12-by-12-foot steel deck frame. On the high end, you'll pay $18,700 for a professionally installed 25-by-25-foot steel deck frame using high-quality steel.
“A steel-framed deck requires some maintenance to stay strong and stable,” says Andy Kilborn, Angi Expert Review Board member and owner of Andy's Handyman Service in Des Moines, IA. “When considering this design, make sure to factor this into your decision, as repairs and modifications to a steel structure are tougher than a wood structure."
In this article
- Average Cost to Build a Steel Deck Frame
- Steel Deck Frame Prices
- Steel Deck Frame Installation Cost
- Steel Deck Cost by Type
- Steel Deck Frame Installation Cost by Square Foot
- Steel Deck Frame Cost Factors
- Cost to Build a Steel Deck Frame Yourself
- DIY vs. Hire a Deck Building Pro
Average Cost to Build a Steel Deck Frame
Steel Deck Frame Prices
To build a steel deck, you'll pay $5 to $15 per square foot in material costs. This figure includes the cost of beams, joists, brackets, and other hardware, like fasteners. It does not include the cost of deck boards, whether you choose to continue with a metal deck or opt for wood.
How much you'll pay for steel deck framing depends on two major factors: the strength of the steel and local market pricing.
The standard thickness of steel is known as its gauge. The most common steel gauges for decking are 22, 20, 18, and 16 gauge. As the gauge number increases, the material thickness decreases. For example, 16-gauge steel is stronger than 22-gauge steel.
It's important to note that the price of steel tends to fluctuate greatly. For this reason, contractors may issue deck quotes with a 30-day expiration date. After that time, you'll need to obtain a new quote as the price of raw material has likely changed.
Steel Deck Frame Installation Cost
While the cost of raw material often goes up and down, the cost of labor for building steel deck framing is generally stable. You'll typically pay $16 to $20 per square foot to have a professional build your deck frame.
When giving a quote, most deck builders will offer a per-project price that takes into account the size and complexity of the project. You can divide this final figure by the size of your deck frame to determine the cost per square foot. This can be helpful when comparing quotes among several builders.
Steel Deck Cost by Type
The type of steel you use to build your deck frame will play a major part in how much you pay to complete the project. For example, opting for 16-gauge steel can cost nearly 40% more than using 22-gauge steel.
Here are typical prices you may pay for various steel thicknesses:
|Steel Thickness||Material Price per Square Foot||Total Cost for 12' by 12' Deck Frame (Labor & Material)|
|16 gauge||$11.25 to $12.50||$3,924 to $4,680|
|18 gauge||$9.50 to $10.50||$3,672 to $4,392|
|20 gauge||$8 to $9||$3,456 to $4176|
|22 gauge||$6.50 to $7.75||$3,240 to $3,996|
To determine the cost to build a steel deck frame per square foot, you need to know the size of your deck frame and the cost of materials and labor.
Below are a few examples of how much various steel frames would cost based on size:
|Deck Frame Size||Steel Gauge||Average Material Costs||Average Labor Costs||Total Cost per Square Foot|
|12-by-12 feet||22 gauge||$1,027||$2,592||$25|
|20-by-16 feet||18 gauge||$3,200||$5,760||$28|
|25-by-25 feet||16 gauge||$7,425||$11,250||$30|
Find a Pro for Your Steel Deck Project
Steel Deck Frame Cost Factors
There are several factors that will determine how much it costs to build a deck. When it comes to steel deck framing, you'll need to account for planning and permitting, the scope of the project, materials, and labor.
Planning and Permitting
If you hire a professional to install your steel deck, you won't have to worry about planning and permitting costs as your contractor will work them into their contract price.
If you're building your own steel deck, you can find lots of free plans and resources for building a deck. If you'd like a custom creation, you can purchase planning software to help for $30 to $75.
Regardless of who builds your steel deck, you'll need to plan for possible increases to your homeowner's insurance premium. Contact your insurer directly to discuss your plans in detail to see if you'll be subject to a rate increase.
The size of your deck and the complexity of the build will affect how much it costs. For simple decks, you can ballpark the cost by adding labor and materials costs and then multiplying by the square foot of the frame.
For more complex projects, like those with multiple levels or that require extra support, you'll need the help of a contractor or deck-planning software to figure out total costs.
Local market pricing and the steel gauge you'll use for your project will drive the costs of materials for your project. Note that the steel costs, in particular, tend to be volatile, so you won't want too much time to elapse from the time you quote materials costs to the time you start your project.
Unlike material pricing, labor costs for building a steel deck frame are typically stable. When you hire a local deck builder, you can expect to pay $16 to $20 per square foot in labor costs.
Compare Quotes From Steel Deck Frame Contractors
Cost to Build a Steel Deck Frame Yourself
Considering that professional labor can cost two times or more the cost of materials, you stand to save quite a bit of money by building your own deck.
For example, if you're building a 12-by-12 foot steel deck, you'll save about $2,600 in labor costs if you do the job yourself.
The savings are even more dramatic when you consider larger builds. If you build a steel deck measuring 25-by-25 feet, you can save $11,250 in labor costs by building it on your own.
These kinds of savings are enticing, but keep in mind that, unless you're an experienced DIYer with an arsenal of tools, you'll find the cost and hassle of purchasing and renting the necessary equipment to build a steel deck will far exceed the convenience of hiring a professional.
DIY vs. Hire a Deck Building Pro
It's very easy to get excited about building your own steel deck framing when you see the cost savings that come with it. No matter the size of your project, you can save thousands by forgoing professional installation.
But it's also important to note that professional deck builders have more experience than you and access to all the tools and materials they'll need to get the job done. They also have industry connections that can help them obtain materials at a lower cost. When you hire a deck builder, you may pay more, but you'll enjoy a quality job and a deck that will last years.
There's also the matter of safety. A deck is an extension of your home, and you'll likely have friends and family joining you in your new space. You must build a deck to exacting specifications to ensure it can hold up to regular, long-term use. There is no cost savings in the world that can justify putting your loved ones at risk.
What are the benefits of a steel deck frame?
While pricey, steel deck frames offer a lot of benefits, mostly relating to their longevity. Steel is an extremely durable material, so with proper care, it can easily last 100 years. It offers corrosion resistance, and bugs can't eat it. It doesn't deteriorate like wood, so you'll never have to worry about sagging.
Why are labor costs so high with a steel deck frame?
Steel is an incredible material in terms of durability, but it's not nearly as easy to work with as wood. It's much heavier, and it's not as easy to cut or customize. There's also the fact that not all deck builders have experience using steel; it's easy to find a pro to build you a wood deck, but the same may not be true when it comes to steel, depending on where you live.