Our two upstairs bedrooms in our wood frame home in Flagstaff, Arizona, face into the forest. We'd like to replace the 6' windows with vinyl sliding doors and add redwood or Trex decks about 4' x 8' each, with a simple railing, braced supports, and no roof. Can you give us ballpark figures for the cost?
Aaron ~ Flagstaff, Arizona
Hi Aaron, the first thing I will mention is that you should make sure you have a professional design your decks if they are going to be on the second floor. I live near several colleges and universities and the last couple of years they have had a number of decks collapse on off campus student housing due to poor design. Second floor is fairly high up and while you may never have your decks over crowded with college students, you should make sure they are safe.
Pricing for materials and labor can vary in different parts of the country so keep in mind that the costs I give you are very ballpark. Labor in Flagstaff, Arizona might be more or less expensive than in my neck of the woods and the same may be true with decking lumber.
Trex decks and vinyl sliding doors are both good choices as they are low maintenance and should be very durable. I like Trex decks as they never need to be stained or have a protective coating put on them and you can walk on them in your bare feet without having to worry about any nasty treated wood splinters.
I think the cost for having both decks done should be about $2,200 to $2,800 total. This is based on them being 4' x 8' with a simple railing and no exterior stairway. This is also based on a fairly simple support system. If an architect designs a more complicated type of support structure, it could affect the price.
For removing the windows and installing standard height 6' vinyl sliding doors I would figure a range of $1,800 to $2,200 total. This is based on redoing the framing under the windows and being able to reuse the exterior siding to patch things up after the doors are installed. I figured mid-range vinyl sliding doors for the project, but you can probably find less expensive or more expensive doors if you wish.
I did not figure any electrical work in my cost as there may not be any or an outlet may need to be shifted out of the way of where a door is going to be located. Usually this is fairly simple as long as there is enough play in the wiring. Depending on your local code you may need to add an exterior light at each sliding door as well.
I also did not figure any mechanical work, but there is a possibility you may have some. Many HVAC contractors locate floor vents on an outside wall below windows to offset any heating and cooling loss from the windows. It is not a good idea to have a floor vent in a doorway as it can be a tripping hazard and can also accumulate dirt and debris.
If you have floor registers in front of your existing windows, you may want to hand your vinyl sliding doors so that the stationary panel is over the register and the operable panel is away from the register if possible. Moving a floor vent in a finished area can turn into a big project in a hurry.