Deck Materials

Redwood. As its name implies, redwood has a dark, red color when it is first cut. If not finished, redwood will turn a gray color over the years. Redwood is a strong, durable, and attractive deck material. A number of grades are available, including construction heart redwood (more affordable) and clear redwood (a more premium product). Redwood’s strength stands up to the stress inflicted by normal traffic and furniture.

Paulope. Paulope is a very hard wood that is usually imported from South America. Because of its strength, it also makes a good decking wood. Paulope is a premium building material, and its price is often similar to that of clear redwood.

Cedar. While cedar is commonly used for fences and overhead structures, its lack of strength and tendency to rot make it less suitable for structural members, high-traffic areas, low-to-ground placements, and high-moisture placements.

Engineered composites. Engineered composites are becoming more commonly used for decks. These composites are strong and durable and are usually guaranteed by the manufacturers against rot, insect infestation, warping, cracking, and splintering.

Pressure-treated wood and CCA. Because pressure-treated wood resists rot and insect infestation, it is commonly used for decks. Historically, most wood was pressure treated with chromate copper arsenate (CCA), which has an arsenic component. The industry has voluntarily stopped using CCA for residential applications. The EPA suggests that existing CCA-treated decks should be properly maintained and sealed. More information on CCA is available from the EPA at www.epa.gov or from the Consumer Protection Safety Commission Consumer Hotline.