Wood is still the king of decking materials, due to its economy and strength. Natural-wood decking products can be roughly divided into three categories: pressure-treated lumber, redwood and cedar, and tropical hardwoods. Which material is best for your new deck will depend on factors including decking color, available board sizes, maintenance requirements, and price.
Pressure treated wood is an affordable and attractive solution for decks and docks alike. It’s easy to work with, and terrific for DIYers. The downside of PT lumber is that routine maintenance is necessary to prolong the life and look of the deck. An annual power washing and an application of stain or wood preservative every two or three years will be necessary to get the most from your wood. Even then, wood needs to be replaced frequently compared to manufactured materials.
Not all wood called “pressure treated” is the same, so don’t compare boards just on price. Make sure you do your homework before buying any pressure treated wood:
- Wood variety: At Decks & Docks, all of our wood is Southern Yellow Pine, a sustainable, dense variety known for its longevity.
- Grade: Lumber grades indicate number of knots and imperfections in the wood and the straightness of the grain. We suggest “premium” or “select” for the best results. And, since many of the higher grade choices are kiln-dried, they have less tendency to warp. Decks & Docks only sells the higher grades of lumber, which means fewer knots, consistent boards, and longer life.
- Treatment: Chemical treatment levels affect how long wood will last in marine or other wet environments. Always look at the tags on the end of wooden boards. If you’re near the water, you should always look for wood approved for “Ground Contact.” If you’re building a dock on saltwater, you should always opt for “Marine Grade” lumber. Most lumber at big box stores is approved for “Above Ground,” meaning it’s not treated for marine or wet conditions. Make sure your investment lasts and buy wood from Decks & Docks, the expert in marine and coastal lumber.
These species are treasured for their rich crimson color and natural beauty. In addition, their tannins and oils make them naturally resistant to rot, decay, and voracious insects. They’re stable and much more resistant to warping and splitting than PT lumber.
- Western Cedar
Grown in tropical forests, these exotic woods are stunning with unique colors and grain. Most are imported from Brazil and easily outperform domestic wood species in every category. Extremely dense, highly durable, low maintenance and naturally resistant to rot and insects. Hardwood decking offers a 30+ year lifespan, with regular maintenance.
- Ipe (pronounced EE-pay)
Wood Treatment and Protection
Coastal environments are brutal on decks and docks. Sun, heat, rain, and salt can destroy wood in a matter of years, if left unprotected. Decks & Docks has tested just about every wood treatment on the market, and we know what works in harsh waterfront conditions. For ipe and hardwoods, we recommend Penofin Hardwood Formula – an oil-based finish especially formulated to penetrate dense hardwoods while allowing the natural beauty of the wood to show through. For pressure-treated decking, our go-to is Spa-N-Deck from Flood. This 100% acrylic finish formula allows you to clean, prep and finish your deck or dock all in one day. The end result is a durable finish that enhances the natural character of the wood. Stop in to any Decks & Docks location to pick up a gallon or two.