Best Wood For Outdoor Decks: Cedar & Redwood Or Composite?

Outdoor decks are an integral part of any home, providing the perfect space for relaxation, entertainment, and family gatherings. Choosing the best wood for your deck is crucial to ensure its durability and longevity, as well as its overall aesthetic appeal.

When it comes to selecting the right material for your outdoor deck, there are several options to consider, including cedar and redwood versus composite wood decking. Cedar and redwood are popular choices for outdoor decks due to their natural beauty, durability, and resistance to moisture, rot, and insects. These types of wood have been used for centuries and are known for their ability to withstand harsh weather conditions, making them perfect for outdoor use.

However, composite wood decking has emerged as a growing trend in recent years, offering a low maintenance option made from recycled plastic with wood fibers built in. In this article, we will compare the benefits and drawbacks of cedar and redwood versus composite wood decking, helping you make an informed decision for your outdoor space.

Durability and Lifespan

When considering the best wood for outdoor decks, it is important to prioritize durability and lifespan. Both cedar and redwood are popular choices due to their resistance to moisture, natural look, and ability to withstand insect infestation. With proper care, both woods offer an average lifespan of 15-20 years, making them a worthwhile investment for homeowners looking for a long-term solution.

On the other hand, composite wood decking requires little to no maintenance and is made from recycled plastic with wood fibers built in. While it lacks the natural look and charm of real wood, it is a popular option for those looking for a cheaper and low maintenance alternative. However, its lifespan is not as long as cedar and redwood, and it may require replacement sooner than natural wood options.

When comparing lifespan and insect resistance, cedar and redwood are the superior choices for those looking for a durable and long-lasting outdoor deck.

Maintenance Requirements

Proper care and maintenance are crucial for increasing the lifespan of the chosen material for an outdoor deck.

For cedar and redwood, yearly maintenance is required to ensure their resistance to moisture, rot, and insects. This includes pressure washing and staining, which not only helps to preserve their natural look but also prevents the wood from splitting and cracking due to weather changes.

It is also important to consider seasonal considerations, such as clearing the deck of snow and debris during winter months, to prevent moisture buildup and damage.

For composite wood decking, maintenance requirements are significantly lower than natural wood options. However, it is still important to clean the deck regularly with soap and water to prevent any buildup of dirt and debris that can cause discoloration and staining.

DIY maintenance tips for composite decking include avoiding the use of harsh chemicals and pressure washing, which can damage the surface. Instead, a soft-bristle brush and mild cleaner can be used for gentle cleaning.

Overall, while composite decking may require less maintenance than natural wood options, proper care and cleaning are still necessary to ensure its longevity.

Cost Comparison

One important factor to consider when selecting materials for an outdoor deck is the cost, which can vary significantly depending on the type of wood or composite decking chosen. Here is a cost comparison between cedar and redwood versus composite wood decking:

  1. Cedar and redwood are more expensive upfront than composite wood decking, but they have a longer lifespan of 15-20 years with proper care. Composite wood decking, on the other hand, has a lifespan of 10-15 years and may need to be replaced sooner.

  2. Cedar and redwood require yearly maintenance, which can add to the overall cost. Composite wood decking, however, requires little to no maintenance, which can save money in the long run.

  3. Composite wood decking is a cheaper option than most other outdoor deck materials, but it lacks the look and charm of real wood. Cedar and redwood have a natural beauty that cannot be replicated by composite wood decking.

  4. When considering the environmental impact, composite wood decking is made from recycled plastic with wood fibers built in, making it a more eco-friendly option than cedar and redwood, which require cutting down trees.

Overall, the cost comparison between cedar and redwood versus composite wood decking depends on the individual’s budget and priorities. While composite wood decking may be cheaper upfront and more eco-friendly, cedar and redwood have a longer lifespan and natural beauty that may be worth the extra cost and maintenance.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is pressure treated wood a safe option for outdoor decks?

Pressure treated wood can be a safe option for outdoor decks, but it requires yearly maintenance and may pose health risks due to the chemicals used in treatment. Alternative decking materials, like cedar, redwood, and composite wood, offer lower maintenance options with similar durability.

Can tropical hardwoods be stained easily?

Staining tropical hardwoods may be challenging because of their density and natural oils. Proper preparation, including sanding and cleaning, is necessary for best results. Maintenance for tropical hardwoods may also require special products and techniques.

How does composite wood decking compare to real wood in terms of slip resistance?

Composite wood decking has a lower slip resistance compared to real wood due to its smooth and nonporous surface. However, it requires little to no maintenance and is a cheaper option compared to other outdoor deck materials.

Can cedar and redwood be painted instead of stained?

Cedar and redwood can be painted, but staining is recommended to preserve the natural look. Color options for cedar and redwood include transparent, semi-transparent, and solid stains. Proper preparation and application are essential for optimal results.

Are there any eco-friendly alternatives to traditional wood decking materials?

Eco-friendly alternatives to traditional wood decking materials include sustainable materials such as bamboo, cork, and reclaimed wood. These materials are durable, low-maintenance, and can reduce the environmental impact of decking projects.

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