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Best Deck Material According to 2 Very Experienced Lumbermen

Tom and Bill have been in the lumber business for a combined total of 113 years. That seems long enough for each of them to see how different decking products hold up to the elements. The following are their favorite, especially in a dry climate such as Colorado.

#1. Redwood or Cedar

  • The first choice of Bill who has been in the lumber industry for 63 years is Redwood. The first choice by Tom with only 50 years in the lumber industry is Cedar.

  • What do they use in a sauna? Yes, cedar is the most common wood used in a sauna. This is a point that Tom likes to make because it clearly shows that cedar can withstand extreme heat and moisture without bending or cracking.

  • Each option is naturally rot and bug resistant.

  • Less warping and bowing over time than other decking options. Which is important to avoid many things, among them being screws being buried below the wood or popping out of the wood.

  • Tom prefers the way cedar looks as it ages and Bill likes the red tone of redwood.

  • As of May 2022, Redwood is hard to get so we recommend cedar.

#2. Hardwood

  • Brazilian hardwoods such as Batu (customer picture of Batu decking purchased from County Line Lumber Co.) or Ipe perform well in dry climates.

  • Hardwood decking is aesthetically pleasing and weathers well but is a more expensive option.

#3. Composite Decking

  • We’ve worked with multiple different manufacturers of composite decking and they vary in grade. Some are higher quality which makes them more expensive but these products last longer.

  • The reason they aren’t rated higher is a matter of personal opinion and experience. On the personal side, Tom and Bill prefer the appearance of natural wood. Their experience is that in the past customers have complained of composite decking being more slippery in wet conditions and some have even had it melt in really hot conditions. That being said, we do believe the higher end products have been improved when it comes to these past issues.

  • Less up keep is required for composite decking than for natural wood.

#4. Pressure-Treated Wood

  • Pressure-Treated wood is best used under the deck for support. We recommend using KDAT-Klin Dried After Treat boards for decking support. Each board is stamped with an arrow indicating the direction the board may crown. Hence, the joists installed will not crown in opposite directions causing a wavy deck. It’s also significantly lighter and easier to handle than other preservative treated lumber.

  • We do not recommend pressure-treated wood on the surface as it warps, cracks and bends in dry climates. Pressure-treated lumber is Southern Yellow pine that has been treated with chemicals to make it rot resistant. Southern yellow pine is obviously grown in the south where there is a lot of humidity. When it is placed in a dry climate where the moisture content can get as low as 6%, as the boards loose moisture content, they start to twist, turn, crack, crown and bow causing nails and screws to pop out or sink down in the wood and of course the boards usually need to be replaced.

If you would like more advice from Tom and Bill, e-mail Clare at with your request.

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