What’s the Best Wood Type for Outdoor Decks?

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What's the Best Wood Type for Outdoor Decks?

What’s the best wood for decking? The answer to this question depends heavily on several factors, including your budget and expectations. 

At the end of the day, everyone wants an outdoor wood deck that will last. That’s why we’ve rounded up some of the best wood types based on durability, as well as other factors such as pricing and sustainability. 

So, what’s the best wood for your decking needs? Take a look at our list to find out. 

Qualities to Look for in Deck Wood 

When you’re shopping for deck wood materials, you’re not just searching for something that will look nice – you need wood that will last for many years and withstand plenty of wear and tear. 

All of the wood types we’re recommending in this post are known for their…

  • Durability 
  • Moisture resistance
  • Stability 
  • Cost-effectiveness
  • Sustainability 

Your deck will be exposed to many weather conditions and ongoing sunshine, especially in a place like California. Therefore, we highly recommend choosing a wood type that is long-lasting, repairable, and resistant to mold and rot. 

Qualities to look for in deck wood

Another feature to look for in deck wood is quality. High-quality lumber is generally more durable and resistant to decay, rot, and insect damage than low-quality wood. Additionally, high-quality wood is less prone to warping or cracking over the years. 

Although quality is definitely more expensive, you’ll find that high-quality wood is well worth the heftier price tag. Don’t skimp when it comes to shopping for your deck’s lumber materials.  

1. Ipe 

You may also have heard this wood referred to as “Brazilian Walnut.” Ipe is an exotic hardwood that is sourced from the forests of Central and South America. Most wood experts will immediately tell you that it’s known for its durability, as well as its beautiful appearance. 

Ipe wood deck

Additionally, ipe wood is one of the strongest wood types you can select for an outdoor deck. It has a Janka hardness rating of 3,510 pounds, which means it can handle heavy foot traffic whenever you host your outdoor dinner parties. Its density also makes it naturally resistant to termites, rot, and decay. 

Lastly, ipe is low-maintenance, requiring little beyond seasonal cleaning and oiling. It’s also rated “Class A” against fire, which means it’s more likely to survive if California’s wildfires ever impact your home. 

The only real drawback to using ipe is its price point. Typically, homeowners are looking at between $3,500 and $9,800 for a 10×15 deck – which is a bit more expensive than most other lumber types. 

2. Cedar 

Next on our list is cedar, a highly popular choice for California homeowners due to its natural beauty and durability. You can immediately identify a cedar wood deck by its distinctive grain pattern and warm, natural color.

Cedar wood deck

In most cases, cedar wood decks require little maintenance and can be left untreated. The wood ages gracefully, but if you want to maintain its original color, you can also stain or seal your deck occasionally. 

Another benefit is that cedar wood is dimensionally stable. That’s a fancy way of saying that it resists swelling and shrinking as the temperature or humidity levels change.

So, why doesn’t everyone use cedar to build their outdoor decks? The biggest reason is that cedar wood is relatively soft compared to some other hardwoods, like ipe. This might not be a problem for some builders, but if your deck will undergo heavy wear and tear, you might want to choose a more durable lumber. 

3. Redwood 

Redwood is a highly desirable lumber, especially when it comes to decking. Not only is it naturally beautiful with a unique reddish tone, but its special grain patterns also add a natural aesthetic appeal to outdoor decks. 

Redwood deck

Although redwood is of course, durable and strong, it is also especially sustainable in comparison to other wood decking materials. This is largely due to the carbon sequestration of redwoods – they regrow quickly, which contributes to environmental stability and reduces CO2 emissions during the manufacturing process. 

So, if you’re trying to be environmentally friendly as you build your outdoor deck, redwood lumber might be your best option. 

Although redwood decks do age gracefully on their own, they last the longest when they receive adequate maintenance throughout the years. With proper care, a redwood deck can easily last up to two decades, even with regular use. 

4. Hem-Fir 

Last on our list of the best wood types for outdoor decks is hem-fir, which you might not have heard much about yet. This wood type is a species combination of Western Hemlock and true firs, which can be sourced directly from California. 

Hem-fir deck

Hem-fir is by far one of the most affordable options for your decking project, so if cost is a big selling point for you, make sure to check it out. Despite its low price tag, hem-fir also offers surprising durability and resistance to outdoor conditions. 

Another big reason to use hem-fir is that it is widely available and easy to find. People building decks rarely have an issue sourcing hem-fir for their project, and in California, you will likely be able to get the necessary materials quickly. 

All of the woods we mentioned in this post are great choices for your outdoor deck. Choosing one really comes down to your budget, preferences, and specific requirements. 

FAQs About an Outdoor Deck 

Outdoor deck faqs

Let Us Help You Maintain Your Deck

Let us help you maintain your deck

Now that we’ve shared some of the best wood types for outdoor decks, it’s time to think about how you will maintain the wood you select. That’s where we come in.

At Teak & Deck, we offer SoCal homeowners a wide range of deck services, including professional deck maintenance and deck sealing. Our goal is to ensure your deck lasts for as long as possible while preserving its natural color and shine. 

To learn more about our deck services, please contact us directly. We’ll be happy to provide a quote for your deck-related needs.

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Drew Isaacman

Drew Isaacman is the owner and founder of Teak & Deck Professionals, a leading restoration company specializing in teak, exotic wood, concrete, and stone. With a passion for preserving outdoor assets, Drew has built a team of skilled professionals dedicated to providing exceptional service to clients in San Diego, Orange County, and Los Angeles. His expertise in wood restoration and refinishing, combined with his commitment to customer satisfaction, has earned Teak & Deck Professionals a reputation for excellence in the industry. Drew's dedication to protecting and revitalizing outdoor spaces ensures that clients can enjoy their valuable assets for years to come.