A well-made, attractive deck can make a substantial boost to your home’s resale value. Decks increase the livable space of any home and provide a relaxing gathering place away from noisy streets and annoying traffic. Whether you’re considering building a new deck or repairing an old deck, there are several areas to compare across products. You need to consider:
- Type of decking material, availability, and cost
- Long-term benefits of outdoor decks and maintenance needs
- Aesthetic appeal and design flexibility
How to Pick the Right Wood Decking Solution
Wood deck ideas can run the gamut from large to multi-level designs. The right wood can enhance the overall look and feel, as well as provide a deck that can be enjoyed for decades to come.
Natural or Treated Redwood
Redwood gets top marks for longevity, durability, ease of construction, and a natural, attractive finish. A well-built, sealed, and regularly maintained redwood deck can last up to 30 years. The heartwood of redwood trees is the part most resistant to pesky insects and general decay. This part is often used for deck posts embedded in the ground for maximum durability.
Builders love redwood because it’s a softwood. It’s easier to cut and shape using regular tools than hardwoods like oak, beech, or maple. This translates to less direct labor costs. The parts outside of the heartwood are desirable for the natural deep color and lack of knots or flaws. Sealing the wood is enough to keep it looking good for decades.
Redwood is a scarce resource, so the overall cost is higher. These trees only grow in central California and parts of Oregon. Premium boards are made from old-growth trees. Unfortunately, old-growth trees compose only 1% of all redwood forests.
Natural or Treated Cedar
Like redwoods, cedar heartwood is naturally resistant to insects and wood rot. Planks repel moisture and resist the elements well, so a properly sealed and stained deck can last 15 to 20 years. Cedar retains its shape in all sorts of weather. Posts and planks made of cedar are pleasing to the eye due to its natural beauty. Cedar can be left to age naturally or stained to complement the interior or exterior decor. It also serves as a natural noise barrier.
Cedar is popular among builders for its durability and ease of use. Cedarwood finishes and stains without problems. It also cuts and glues effectively. It is biodegradable and can be used for various purposes, from posts to framing and flooring.
The best cedar cuts come from 100 to 250-year-old trees. These trees aren’t being replaced at a rate equal to the amounts being used, and costs for premium cedar are rising annually. It’s important to note that cedar decks are not maintenance-free. Cedar decks need to be sealed every two to three years to retain their color.
While wood still commands a large portion of the decking market, composite materials are gaining ground. Synthetic wood is composed of recycled materials bonded together. Not needing periodic staining or sealing, decks made of composite materials are maintenance-free compared to wood decks and can last for up to 25 years.
Aesthetically, composite wood can enhance any decor or wood decking ideas. You can get it in a variety of textures and colors. The color is permanent, and can’t be sanded off, stained, or painted over.
For all their virtues, composite decks retain moisture, which causes surface peeling and the growth of algae, mildew, and mold. Removing the growth would require a costly resurfacing of the deck. Unlike wood, composites are not physically stable. Planks and posts can swell, twist, and bow. Boards can weaken over time, leaving your deck with sections that sag and sections that don’t.
Due to the manufacturing process, there is no easy way to guarantee that a composite deck won’t experience problems sooner or later. Composite technology is still growing and evolving, affecting pricing. Composite materials for decks are more expensive than natural wood.
Shou Sugi Ban Wood or Charred Wood
Shou Sugi Ban or Yakisugi is a traditional Japanese method of burning wood and leaving a layer of char on the surface. This layer protects the charred wood by preventing moisture absorption, swelling, and rotting. It’s a natural form of waterproofing. Charred timber has little to no cellulose fibers, so it’s resistant to insects, bacteria, and fungi. There’s no need to apply chemical pesticides or sealing treatments on burnt wood. Minimal cellulose also grants charred wood excellent fire-resistant properties.
During the manufacturing process, the level of scorching, the original color of the wood, and the removal of char all affect the final color and texture. Yakisugi wood ranges in color from light charcoal to a rich, deep black. Combining different hues can make for striking designs. Shou Sugi Ban wood can wonderfully complement stone and earth tones to achieve a stunning rustic effect.
The texture can vary from a natural print with whorls and knots to alligator-skin patterns depending on the post-burning touches. Overlapping layers of charred timber can create a stunning 3D or shingled effect that can complement metal, marble, and mirrored surfaces.
Burnt wood is environmentally friendly and sustainable. Best of all, Yakisugi wood can last from 80 to 100 years. Applying oil every 10 to 15 years hardens the surface, extending its usefulness even further. In the long run, it costs significantly less to maintain and protect charred wood than other types of redwood, cedar, or composite materials.
Choose the Best
Wood burning is not new. The Shou Sugi Ban technique has been used on different kinds of wood for a variety of architectural projects all over the world. The process can be applied to Accoya, pine, spruce, larch, and cedar.
Adding a deck is an excellent investment for any homeowner. With premium redwood and cedar wood becoming increasingly scarce, it’s time to consider solutions that use fewer resources, cause less environmental damage, and can last longer.
Brushed and sealed Yakisugi wood can make for eye-catching, natural, durable decks with minimal long-term costs. Color options from gray to brown to black and an array of patterns can transform a charred wood deck design from elegant to fabulously artistic. It’s the best all-around choice to add beauty and value to any home.