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Best wood to use for decks?

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  • Oct 20th, 2018 3:24 pm
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Member
Mar 26, 2017
209 posts
116 upvotes

Best wood to use for decks?

Hi all,

I'm wondering what I should be using for deck wood, I heard green/brown pressure treated wood is fine, but some people are recommending cedar from out west.

I'm looking for something that'll last but also won't kill my wallet as wood is already super expensive
10 replies
Deal Addict
Jul 3, 2017
3684 posts
2545 upvotes
Basic standard is PT. Some people prefer cedar for appearance, fragrance (when new), and the fact that it's lighter and easier to handle. It's also softer than PT, which can be good or bad, and it doesn't heat up quite as much in the sun.

As a natural wood product you can expect plenty of imperfections. There will be warps, cracks, knotholes etc.. If buying the wood yourself, you will have to spend a long time selecting pieces, or you have to over-order by about 25% because you will end up returning up to that percentage as unacceptably poor quality. It won't last as long as a composite product like Trex, and it will expand and contract more between winter and summer, changing the gaps and eventually causing some warping.

Composite is much more expensive though, and some people don't like the unnaturally perfect appearance compared to natural wood. It all depends on personal preference and the lifespan you want for your deck.
Deal Addict
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Dec 10, 2008
4087 posts
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Toronto
Regular green PT is fine. And if I had to do it again, I'd probably go with 2x6 decking over 5/4x6; it just feels better under the foot.

I'd also probably nail it as a lot of my ACQ coated screw heads are rusting after a few years.
Member
Mar 22, 2017
288 posts
243 upvotes
For wood:

- Pressure treated is the cheapest. It's also the worst - it's prone to warping and splitting. Easy to stain (once you let it try out for a couple of months post-installation).
- Cedar is moderately more expensive. It's naturally bug and rot resistant, while PT wood is artificially made so. It's easier to install, and it tends to warp and crack less, making it look better for longer. Easy to stain.
- Redwood is more expensive than cedar. It's slightly more bug and rot resistant than cedar, weights more, is harder (so harder wearing) and has a reddish brown tone that makes it tricky to stain (many people just stain it clear).
- Composite decking is a blend of resin and wood dust, pressed to look kind of like wood planks. It comes pre-coloured, doesn't rot or warp, and fades only mildly over time. It's quite expensive and some people like the look and feel of a 'real' wood deck, but can't argue with the low maintenance.
- Synthetic decking is like composite, but has no wood in it (plastic only). Wears as hard to harder than composite.

Sometimes people will make the deck joists, etc out of wood and the facing out of composite, since the composite is what shows and it's a cost saver. Personally if I was building a 'build it for life' deck I'd want the joists as hard wearing as possible, but that adds money.
Sr. Member
Jun 11, 2010
968 posts
498 upvotes
ottawa
grumble wrote:
Oct 19th, 2018 10:57 am
For wood:

- Pressure treated is the cheapest. It's also the worst - it's prone to warping and splitting. Easy to stain (once you let it try out for a couple of months post-installation).
- Cedar is moderately more expensive. It's naturally bug and rot resistant, while PT wood is artificially made so. It's easier to install, and it tends to warp and crack less, making it look better for longer. Easy to stain.
- Redwood is more expensive than cedar. It's slightly more bug and rot resistant than cedar, weights more, is harder (so harder wearing) and has a reddish brown tone that makes it tricky to stain (many people just stain it clear).
- Composite decking is a blend of resin and wood dust, pressed to look kind of like wood planks. It comes pre-coloured, doesn't rot or warp, and fades only mildly over time. It's quite expensive and some people like the look and feel of a 'real' wood deck, but can't argue with the low maintenance.
- Synthetic decking is like composite, but has no wood in it (plastic only). Wears as hard to harder than composite.

Sometimes people will make the deck joists, etc out of wood and the facing out of composite, since the composite is what shows and it's a cost saver. Personally if I was building a 'build it for life' deck I'd want the joists as hard wearing as possible, but that adds money.
So essentially if it isn't really a forever home, don't bother with composite? Aka if you're going to move in 5-10 years, cedar will probably outlast that period?
Member
Mar 22, 2017
288 posts
243 upvotes
barqers wrote:
Oct 19th, 2018 11:21 am
So essentially if it isn't really a forever home, don't bother with composite? Aka if you're going to move in 5-10 years, cedar will probably outlast that period?
Yeah, if you're building a deck to last five years, go with cedar or even just go with PT wood (which is significantly cheaper).
Deal Addict
May 23, 2009
2124 posts
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Mississauga
Pressure treated will still be used for the deck framing so the price increase is mainly for the floor board type that you choose.
Newbie
Sep 21, 2004
91 posts
38 upvotes
North Vancouver, BC
I rebuilt the deck earlier this summer as the previous owner had the paint on decking stuff over plywood and it was all failing and leaking through to the carport so replaced the decking and a bunch of joists (and the posts that were not anchored AT ALL - just sitting on top of concrete. Put Vinyl down and went with brown pressure treated wood all around. The Brown pressure treated is about the same price as the green PT out here in BC (as they have to compete with Cedar as much more available) and better matched the color we wanted to stain. Went with Green PT for the 2x2 pieces in between (as easier to find it and then return the crappy pieces (probably about 35% were not usable - yes that high!) and brown PT everywhere else (2x4's easy to come by and 4x4's the same. Stained it with a Semi Transparent Water Based (Trying it out based on the new technology and the fact that it's MUCH easier to put on and clean up and did not want to deal with oil for this project). The wood took the stain well and it seems to be holding up quite well.
With PT and staining, I juggled the initial costs (up front I was about 2K in material and 1K for the Vinyl Deck) vs the on going maintenance. I know I will have to stain every second year - but I'm ok with that. It only takes a day and a half to stain the deck and gives it a nice clean look for the summer. I'll probably regret this in 2 years time - but that's "future me's" problem!
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Member
User avatar
Sep 25, 2003
226 posts
44 upvotes
Scarborough
If you don’t have much area to deck, consider ipe wood. It’s rot and insect resistant. You can oil (wipe on and wipe off) once a year or let it patina to a silver-brown color. It’s also has best fire resistance of available woods. Something to consider if you have a charcoal grill on your deck.

Only downsides are cost and more Labour intensive to install depending on your fastening system. Runs about $6 / lineal ft for pregrooved 5/4 x 6 (1” thick x 5.5” wide) boards. I was lucky to find a contractor selling his 7’ “off cuts” on kijiji a few years ago for less than $1.50/ linear foot.
Deal Fanatic
Mar 21, 2002
6167 posts
808 upvotes
RCGA wrote:
Oct 19th, 2018 10:29 am
I'd also probably nail it as a lot of my ACQ coated screw heads are rusting after a few years.
Two problems with nails. They tend to pop up repeatedly over time which is a real nuisance. And, down the road if you have to replace boards that can be extremely difficult to do with nails. On my 50 year old deck I'm running in to the problem with the PT boards slowly rotting and needing to be replaced. Getting an individual board out in the middle of the deck that's been nailed down is extremely difficult. For any that I replace I use screws although admittedly getting those out in say another 50 years time might be challenging. By then though I figure the whole deck will have to be ripped out and replaced anyways.
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Dec 10, 2008
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Toronto
woof wrote:
Oct 20th, 2018 2:17 pm
Two problems with nails. They tend to pop up repeatedly over time which is a real nuisance. And, down the road if you have to replace boards that can be extremely difficult to do with nails. On my 50 year old deck I'm running in to the problem with the PT boards slowly rotting and needing to be replaced. Getting an individual board out in the middle of the deck that's been nailed down is extremely difficult. For any that I replace I use screws although admittedly getting those out in say another 50 years time might be challenging. By then though I figure the whole deck will have to be ripped out and replaced anyways.
Meh, not that hard to pop up a rotted board that's been nailed down.

And what odds if you have to hammer a few nails back down every once in a blue moon. Rusted out ACQ screws look like trash.

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