The first step in building your deck is choosing your material.
That might sound easy, but with so many options out there, the choices can be overwhelming. The best decking for your project depends on your goals and priorities, but if you’re looking for something that’ll last, cedar is a good choice.
Keep reading to learn about the pros and cons of cedar decking.
The Two Types of Cedar Decking
There are two different types of cedar decking: treated and untreated.
When cedar is treated, the wood has been pressure treated with chemicals that will increase the wood’s resistance to things like insects, moisture, and other outdoor problems. Cedar naturally resists moisture and repels insects, so most cedar decking is left untreated.
People who prefer treated cedar want to make sure their decks stay in good condition for years. (With the proper maintenance, even untreated cedar decks can last just as long.)
Cedar Decking Quality
Like every other type of decking, cedar comes in several different grades. For example, higher quality cedar will last longer and needs less maintenance than lower quality cedar.
So what quality should you get?
Anything that’ll be walked on, especially in bare feet, should be higher quality cedar. Decking you’ll use for sitting areas or tables doesn’t need to be as high quality. Things that don’t require as much durability, like rails, can be even lower quality.
The Cost of Cedar Decking
The price of cedar wood decking will vary depending on the quality. Higher quality cedar is going to cost more than basic cedar.
To give you a rough idea of the price range, here are a few examples:
- Basic cedar is about $4.63 a linear foot
- Mid-grade cedar is about $5.62 a linear foot
- High-quality cedar is about $6.56 a linear foot
So on average, cedar decking costs around $3.75 a square foot.
That may sound expensive, but when you compare it to other wood decking options, it’s on the cheaper side of things. Take a look at this:
- Pine decking costs $5 to $11 a square foot
- General wood decking costs $2 to $5 a square foot
- Redwood decking costs $7.75 a square foot
- Ipe hardwood decking costs $3.50 to $5 a square foot
- Plastic decking costs $6.25 to $9.40 a square foot
- Mahogany decking costs $8.80 to $9.90 a square foot
When you consider all the natural benefits of cedar decking, it becomes an affordable option.
The Pros of Cedar Decking
We’ve mentioned a few of the cedar decking benefits, but now it’s time to take a closer look. There’s more than just an inexpensive price that makes this decking a good choice for your yard.
Here’s a more detailed list about the benefits of cedar decking.
1. Cedar Decking Is Durable
For wood, durability refers to the wood’s ability to withstand things like decay (both natural and elemental). With this in mind, cedar is a durable wood.
Cedar actually secretes oils called extractives. These oils help the wood resist weathering, moisture, and insects like carpenter ants or termites. The oils build up as the wood ages, making the cedar strong and healthy.
Most cedar lasts about 15 to 25 years, but some can last even longer.
2. Cedar Decking Is Versatile
The most common type of cedar decking is western red cedar. This type of cedar is both pitch and resin free.
That means it accepts several different bleaches, stains, colors, and finishes. Once these things are applied, the wood also holds them well. On top of that, you can find cedar in different grades, dimensions, and textures.
3. Cedar Decking Is Environmentally Friendly
Cedar decking (and many other natural kinds of wood) are more environmentally friendly than synthetic decking.
This wood has a removes negative gasses from the atmosphere, is renewable, and is biodegradable. In fact, cedar doesn’t contain any chemicals that can harm the environment at all.
4. Cedar Decking Is Stable
Any time moisture enters and leaves wood, it risks the chance of warping. But cedar has a much lower chance than other woods.
Cedar is porous, and it naturally contracts and expands to the moisture levels in the air. That means cedar will hardly every twist, curl, warp, or misshapen due to water damage.
5. Cedar Decking Looks Good
All these benefits mean nothing if the cedar isn’t aesthetically pleasing. Not many people choose to put ugly material in their yards.
But cedar decking just looks good.
It’s more attractive than other types of wood because you can sand, stain, or finish it however you want. Even natural cedar is enough on its own.
The Cons of Cedar Decking
Of course, just like every decking material, cedar does come with some downsides as well. But when you put these against the benefits, they don’t look so bad.
1. Cedar Decking Is Sensitive
It’s easy to dent, scratch, scrape, or otherwise damage this type of wood. Anything from pet claws to furniture poses a threat to cedar decking.
According to the Janka Hardness test (the test that determines the hardness of wood), cedar ranks at 350. Out of a potential 5,000, cedar is definitely on the soft side.
So just be careful when you’re planning what to put on your deck.
2. Cedar Decking Requires Maintenance
In order to keep it in good condition, cedar decking does take a lot of maintenance.
For example, you must prepare your cedar deck for winter every year. This job includes tasks like sanding rough patches, power washing (with a soft wash), and resealing the deck.
This will take at least a week or two to finish completely. Even people who want a cedar deck that looks “rustic” will still need to seal the wood every year or so.
Is Cedar the Right Decking for Me?
This comes down to how much work you’re willing to put into your decking. If going through the process of maintaining your cedar isn’t something you want to do, you may want to choose a different type of decking.
All cons aside, cedar decking comes with some amazing benefits. You won’t have to worry about rotting, weathering, or insect infestations the same way you will with other types of wood.
Still working on your deck design? Take a look at some of these design ideas.