Web Exclusive: Deck Estimate Tips from Bob Heidenreich
Our columnist and deck expert, Bob Heidenreich recently wrapped up a three-part series of columns on the art of composing a deck estimate. See Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3. As a supplement to our online readers, we’re including the following estimate and delivery tips here.
Number of joists
For someone new to the estimating world, we use a formula to calculate the number of joists in a deck. Let’s say that your deck is 20’ wide by 14’ feet out. I take my 20’ and multiply it by 0.75 and add one. That’s how many joists I’ll need for my deck.
How many deck boards?
For deck boards, let’s say you’re going to do a complicated deck with an octagon shape or something that will require all different kinds of deck boards. One way to do it is to take all your square footage and remember to round up to the nearest available product. If it’s 13’x13’, you might want to order 14s, because no one makes 13’ deck boards. Remember to calculate square footage, and then multiply that by 2.3 that’s the number needed to convert square footage into linear footage. Be sure to know your product. Some brands are slightly smaller and you’ll need a couple extra boards. The multiple of 2.3 works for a standard 5.5” wide board.
How many screws?
To calculate the number of screws needed: Take lineal footage, and multiply by 5. If a 10’x10’ deck = 100 square feet, it would take 230 lineal feet to cover. Multiply that by five and you’ll come up with about 1,050 screws that you’ll need to screw that deck down, or two boxes of screws to install.
At my store, we charge for deliveries. Often times you will find that if you give a customer free delivery, then they will expect free pickup. There’s nothing wrong with charging for deliveries. Just make sure that your policies are clear and that the customer has signed an agreement prior to doing the estimate. Deck materials can be a big expense for most people. A deck can cost as much as a new car. To protect yourself from being responsible for these materials when they’re delivered, I advise to take a digital picture or make sure customers re-count at the time of delivery. Make sure customers know how the materials need to be stored.