Find the Best Choice of Natural Wood Decking for Your Home

Discover and review popular deck materials for your home.

The avatar of Rachel Polant

Rachel Polant

Feb 4

Pressure-treated, Cedar, Redwood or something else entirely for your new deck?

You know it’s time to rebuild your deck, but you’re unsure of which decking material is the right choice. You’re leaning toward natural hardwood, but you’re not even sure which wood is best suited to your needs. That’s okay because I’m here to help you figure it out. All you need is some information so you can suss it out.

Below are the most common types of wood used in decking

Redwood

Redwood is naturally insect and rot resistant. It also resists warping very well and contains little to no natural resin, so it retains its finish better.

However, Redwood is expensive, especially the farther away from where it grows on the West Coast. And, unfortunately, it is not an environmentally friendly product because it comes from old-growth forest, which has dwindled severely.

Cost: $10-$15 per square foot before labor. This can go up to as high as $30 for high-grade, premium Redwood.

Cedar

Cedar is also rot and insect resistant. But, it is a soft wood and might not make the best deck material because of this. Because it is soft, it can splinter easily as well.

Cedar is best used for structures rather than a deck’s foundation, like rails, posts, and arbors in a garden. It’s also not considered a sustainable material. Cedar trees that are harvested for decking are old-growth trees which can be upwards of 200 years old. Not exactly great for our planet.

Cost: $8-$13 per square foot before labor.

Pressure-treated Wood

Pressure treated wood is rot and insect resistant. It’s much cheaper than Redwood and is readily available.

It holds up well over the years and makes a great choice for the support structure and foundation of the deck. You just need to be careful about going too cheap. Low-quality wood can be unstable, shrink, warp, and twist. Whereas, high-grade pressure-treated wood is treated with water repellents and can come pre-stained.

Cost: $8-$10 per square foot before labor.

Other wood species (exotic)

Mahogany is long lasting but very expensive. It is also not environmentally friendly as it is often logged illegally.

Teak is durable, beautiful, and is plantation grown, making it a good but very pricey choice.

Ipe has a beautifully smooth and tight grain. It is very hard and durable. It resists mildew and termites. But, due to the hardness of the wood, it makes it more difficult and time-consuming to cut, which adds to the labor costs. And, sadly, Ipe is not considered a sustainable wood species.

Other decking material choices

There, of course, are other decking material choices besides wood, like composite decking, aluminum, and plastic.

Every material has its benefits and weaknesses. Getting help from a deck contractor is a key first step in making the best choice. Cutting corners on labor to save money is a sure-fire way to ruin good decking material no matter the type you build with.

Finding the best contractor to build your deck

It might be tempting to cut costs by hiring the cheapest contractor. This is understandable considering labor is two-thirds the total cost of the project, contributing to more than another $30 per square foot.

Which, seems like a lot of extra money, but these people are professionals who put a lot of hard work and skill into the building of your deck. And, the saying is true when it comes to home improvements, “you get what you pay for.” Cut corners on hiring a quality pro and you’re looking at having to deal with a poor quality deck, spending more money in the long run on repairs or even replacement.

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