A common dilemma with outdoor decking is which wood to use for its construction. Some are tempted to abandon the idea of wood altogether and get composite decks, which have wood fibers but also plastic ingredients. Or move straight to the PVC category and invest in plastic. Although these two choices have the benefit of not cracking or rotting over the years, they are much more expensive and look nothing like wood. Does that make our choice between wood for deck construction any easier? No. We still have a handful of options. The good news though is that not all wood is exactly the same. There are low- and high-cost wood deck types with different properties and thus different lifespan expectations. And their appearance is different too.
Pressure treated outdoor decking
Pressure treated decking is one of the most cost-effective solutions. Due to its affordable price tag, it is easily found. But the cheaper it is, the more problems you’ll have. Not all pressure treated wood is the same. Such wood species are soft, anyway. And so you should expect some splinters and cracks over the years. The cheaper options might twist, warp, and shrink. And once decayed, pressure treated deck invites several insects on board. With good maintenance though, you are looking at a 15-year lifespan.
Cedar decks are very popular too
Although cedar is a soft wood, it’s relatively resistant to insects and rot. That’s due to the wood’s oils and tannins. Since cedar is softwood, it will eventually splinter and that’s why it’s often used just for railings. One reason for investing in cedar outdoor decking is its natural beauty. Manufacturers usually use red cedar, which is stunning. But it must be treated to keep its original color or it will soon turn into gray. Why people often choose cedar for deck building? It has a good price. It lasts at least 15 to 20 years. And one more thing: cedar won’t split or twist easily because it doesn’t absorb moisture. So, it’s a very good choice. Remember that there are still different quality grades here. Don’t get too knotty cedar. More expensive ones will pass better the test of time. But if you order cedar custom decks, keep in mind that they too need coating every few years and power washing regularly.
Ipe decking is the king
One of the best tropical hardwood choices is ipe. Cumaru, mahogany, and red tauari are also exotic products, but ipe outdoor decking is the best choice. Its beauty is unparalleled while the price tag is average – higher than softwoods but much cheaper than mahogany. One of the greatest qualities of ipe is density, which also makes it very hard to cut and thus build but also explains its durability and thus long-lasting. It has a deep reddish color that weathers beautifully to a silvery hue. That’s if ipe is not stained. If you want to finish it, you need to let it weather for a couple of months so that the wood will lose excessive oils. That’s important because its density makes it hard to finish. This hardwood outlives any other wood option and that’s another good reason for investing in ipe deck construction.