Wood is the most common material used for decking and is preferred for a number of reasons. While composite decks have made a great deal of headway against wood in recent years, many still favor the old standby for its beauty, strength, and feeling under bare feet. In recent years, exotic hardwoods have become popular for resistant decking.
The Benefit of Wood Decks
Despite advances in composite technology, it still is not possible to mimic the appearance of wood perfectly. This factor is the single largest contributor to the popularity of wood. Simply put, many people prefer the rich textures and unique patterns that only wood can offer. Wood is also the most versatile of the decking options because it can be painted or stained in any of a variety of colors. It is also easy to cut and shape to meet unique design conditions and does not heat up in direct sun the way composite products do.
Though wood is often categorized as less durable than composite, many exotic hardwoods can last 25 to 30 years or longer with proper maintenance. While maintenance does tend to be higher for woods than composites, properly maintained woods actually retains their beauty longer than most composites do. Some wood can also withstand loads of up to 12,900 pounds per square inch, making it highly resilient. Common benefits of hardwood decking include
- Eye-catching beauty
- Low maintenance
- Enhanced lifespan
- Low cost
- Chemical-free nature
Of course, the above benefits apply primarily to hardwoods like Brazilian Ash and Walnut. Softer woods, like redwood, cedar, and pine, don’t last as long and require more frequent maintenance. They still offer benefits in terms of sustainability, beauty, cost, and lack of chemical additives.
Types of Wood Decking
There are three general types of wood decking: softwood, hardwood, and treated. Treated decking is generally the least expensive option and generally consists of pine or other inexpensive wood that is chemically treated to resist rot and insects. Softwoods, like cedar and redwood, represent a step up in terms of appearance, but also cost more. These woods are naturally resistant to rot and insects. Hardwoods, particularly exotic hardwoods, offer the most resistance to rot and insects, but also cost the most. On average, treated wood will last for about 15 years. Softwood can last for 20-25 years and hardwood can last 25 years or longer with proper maintenance.