Cedar decks: Cedar is a beautiful and high-quality wood that is easily recognizable for its reddish-brown colour. The wood contains natural preservatives. Unlike pressure-treated wood, it does not require any kind of chemical treatment.
Cedar is naturally moisture resistant and insect resistant, but it does require some regular maintenance to preserve the colour. It is ideal for people who love the look of natural wood and prefer not to use a dark stain or paint. The average lifespan of the cedar deck is about 15 to 20 years.
The price of cedar varies based on the size of the deck and the difficulty of installation. Generally, a cedar deck board costs around $25 to $30 per square foot – slightly less than you’d pay for wood composite decking but significantly more than pressure-treated wood.
Now let’s look at the plusses and minuses of cedar decking:
Cedar Deck Pros
- Look – Cedar has rich colour and a beautiful grain pattern that is unmatched by pressure-treated woods. If you prefer the look of natural wood, cedar is the better choice.
- Durability – Cedar doesn’t absorb moisture, which leads to shrinking and twisting. The boards tend to stay flat and straight. Cedar is also resistant to insects and decay.
Cedar Deck Cons
- Maintenance – Cedar decks require significant maintenance. To preserve the deck’s natural colour, you’ll have to clean and reseal it every two years. Even then, the colour will fade over time.
- Price – Cedar can cost around twice as much as pressure-treated wood.
- Softness – Cedar is a softwood. Over time, high traffic areas such as the stairs will wear down.
Pressure-treated decks: The pressure-treated decks are affordable and long-lasting. The vast majority of pressure-treated decks are made with Southern yellow pine, a relatively inexpensive wood. The wood is treated with chemical preservatives to prevent weather and insect damage, rotting and fungus. Generally, the pressure-treated wood decks cost around $15 to $25 per square foot, including installation. Higher-quality grades fall on the higher end of that range, as do decks with features such as benches and rails.
Here are the pros and cons of pressure-treated decking:
Pressure Treated Pros
- Price – In some cases, pressure-treated wood costs half as much as premium woods like cedar. It is the least expensive of all decking materials.
- Durability – Pressure-treated wood is strong enough to withstand decades of use and abuse. Some brands even offer a lifetime limited warranty. In many cases, pressure-treated wood will last significantly longer than cedar.
Pressure Treated Cons
- Look – Pressure-treated wood has a greenish tint that is caused by a reaction to the chemical preservatives. This tint will fade over time, but many people consider it unattractive. It also needs to be cleaned and sealed at least every other year to keep it looking OK.
- Prone to warping – The wood is more susceptible to warping and bending than cedar when exposed to moisture. It is also more likely to splinter and chip.
- Chemicals – The chemicals used to treat the wood are considered hazardous to human health and the environment. They contain arsenic, a known carcinogen. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency studies have revealed that children exposed to pressure-treated wood have an increased risk for cancer. The risk is not great, but it exists.