Popular Types of Wood for Decking in 2024

This guide explores different types of woods used in decks, and compares costs, durability, aesthetic appeal and other factors to help you make the right choice!
Renee Lewis
Renee Lewis
Last Update:
May 1, 2024

When you are investing in a brand new deck for your home, you want to make sure to get the best wood possible for your dream deck. Wood decking is still the most popular type of decking material, and for good reason: it is strong, affordable, and adds a natural warmth to any outdoor space no matter which type of wood you choose!

Factors to Consider When Selecting Wood for Your Deck

Durability and Resistance

Wood decking

Wood decking is a durable choice because a wood deck can last 20 years or more, with some types of wood lasting even longer. Wood was made to be outside, so understandably, many wood materials do very well in all types of weather. Wood is naturally resilient to things like weather and insects, and redwood or red cedar are two wood species that are known for their rot resistance.

Maintenance Requirements

All wood decking will require some maintenance and upkeep over the years. Mainly this refers to giving it a good high pressure wash at least once a year. Keep the deck clear of debris that could contribute to rot and inspect for signs of rot regularly. Also inspect for loose boards or rusting hardware but wiggling boards and checking out the hardware visually.

Every couple of years you will want to seal or re-seal your wood deck - this acts as a preservative for the wood. This involves preparing the deck for the stain or the seal. To do so, make sure the surface of the deck is smooth, sand the deck if necessary to make sure it is ready to absorb the sealant. You can also decide to stain your deck instead of sealing or re-sealing it. This will help protect your deck from weathering, keep it looking great, and help it to last as long as possible!

Aesthetic Appeal

A classic wood deck never goes out of style! The natural beauty and variety of aesthetic options offered by all of the different types of wood are unmatched by other decking materials. The reddish-brown color of redwood decking or a red cedar deck is striking. The grain patterns, or natural markings created by the tree’s growth rings, vary by type of wood. Red oak is an open grained timber with a lot of variety in the grain patterns because the size of the pores - or area between growth rings - deviates widely. The swirls and other patterns in the wood makes for a beautiful hardwood deck.

While hardwoods like oak and red cedar have a more obvious grain pattern than softwoods, softwood decking materials can also produce beautiful decks. Softwoods like pine are more widely available because they grow faster than hardwoods.


Pressure-treated decking wood costs around $2-3 per square foot. The extremely durable and beautiful red cedar will run between $5-8 per square foot. Ipe is a exotic hardwood that costs between $10-15 per square foot depending on the grade. Cumaru, also known as Brazilian teak, is another exotic hardwood and costs a little less than Ipe. Southern yellow pine is a light-colored alternative to the dark woods like Ipe and red cedar, and costs between $7-8 per square foot.

Let’s compare the cost of wood decking materials to wood alternatives like composite decking, PVC, or trex. Composite decks and trex decking costs between $5-13 per square foot depending on the type you choose. PVC decking materials cost between $8-20 per square foot.

Most Popular Wood Types for Decking

Popular wood types for decking

Pressure-Treated Lumber

Pressure-treated lumber is an affordable and durable option. It is a popular choice for decking among homeowners. The pressure-treated lumber is resistant to insects and moisture, making it more rot resistant. The process that creates the lumber adds longevity to your deck and can add years or even decades to its lifespan.

Cedar Wood

Cedar decking is naturally rot resistant, and resistant to insects as well. This type of wood stands up to the elements in just about any climate. On top of that, cedar wood has a natural beauty that is hard to match. Cedar wood for decking does not need that much maintenance and can easily last for 20 years.


Redwood’s warm reddish-brown tone is naturally beautiful and does not need a stain like some other types of wood. Redwood, like cedar, is naturally rot resistant and natural oils make it resistant to insects. It also resists warping and splitting. With regular maintenance redwood can last 15-20 years.

Tropical Hardwoods

Ipe, Tigerwood, and Teak are all tropical hardwoods that are commonly used in decking projects. They are among the most durable of all wood decking materials, Ipe can last up to 30 years, and because of that, they can be by far the most expensive. One decking board of tropical hardwood decking can cost $35!

Composite Wood

Unlike natural wood decking, composite wood is made from wood material but is processed and mixed with plastic or other types of materials as well. This creates increased durability and a longer lifespan. Composite wood decking also needs less maintenance than natural wood decking. It costs a little more than natural wood up front, but the money saved in maintenance costs and with the longer lifespan make up for the cost difference.

Pros and Cons of Each Wood Type

Pressure-Treated Lumber

Pros: Pressure-treated lumber has many advantages to natural wood such as a lower price tag and being more easily available to buy. The price difference compared to the high end wood decking material can be significant, making pressure-treated wood a better choice for homeowners on a budget!

Cons: There are some disadvantages to pressure-treated lumber though - including less natural beauty than woods like redwood or Teak. It also requires more maintenance like regular sealing or staining every couple of years and making sure it stays clear of debris and is cleaned off regularly. Pressure-treated wood is also environmentally concerning to some, largely because of the chemicals like arsenic that can leach out of the wood into water sources and soil.


Pros: Cedar is lighter weight than some other hardwoods making it easier to work with. This type of wood also has a natural rot resistance and naturally resists insect infestation. Cedar is also attractive, and has stronger color tones than some other woods. On the environmentally-friendly or not scale, you may be interested to know that cedar actually has a net negative carbon footprint, making it more environmentally-friendly than other types of wood.

Cons: With the benefits, come the trade-off’s. Cedar is more expensive than pressure-treated wood. Cedar decking also requires regular staining or sealing every few years, or it will not remain as attractive or last as long as it should.


Pros: Redwood is among the most durable types of wood for decking out there. Redwood is also aesthetically pleasing due to its vibrant reddish-brown tones and grain patterns. Redwood does very well in wet conditions and even extreme weather, and is naturally rot-resistant. Redwood make a natural insect repellent that keeps termites off of it as well!

Cons: As far as wood options for decking, redwood has among the fewest disadvantages. One, of course, is price. It will cost a bit more than pressure-treated lumber, which is the most affordable option. And like cedar, redwood requires regular sealing or staining to keep it at its most beautiful and durable.

Tropical Hardwoods

Pros: Tropical hardwood decks have natural oils that make them resistant to moisture, making them exceptionally durable compared to other types of wood. Tropical hardwoods also offer very rich colors and a beautiful shine created by the natural oils.

Cons: The most significant con to tropical hardwoods is the cost, they are among the most expensive types of wood out there. Another disadvantage to tropical hardwoods is its environmental impact - unless you live in the tropical region they come from! Shipping tropical hardwood on diesel-powered ships creates carbon emissions that contribute to global warming.

Composite Wood

Pros: Composite wood decking has a couple of important advantages over natural wood decking. Those include that this type of wood decking is extremely low maintenance. It does not need to be sealed or stained like natural wood. It is durable and can last from 30-50 years, giving it a longer lifespan than most other decking materials.

Cons: This type of decking is more expensive than other decking materials - at least in terms of up front costs, as it does require less money for maintenance than natural woods. In terms of aesthetic appeal, composite wood decking is less naturally beautiful than woods like Teak or Redwood.

Enhancing the Longevity of Your Wood Deck

Enhancing the longevity of a wood deck

Proper Installation Techniques

If you plan on making your new deck a DIY project, then here are some top tips for deck building. First, focus on the footings and the ledger to ensure the foundation of the deck is set up well. You will want the footings to extend below the frost line, and the ledger certain to be level.

After you have the foundation set up for success, you can move on to installing the boards. Make sure to inspect each board to determine whether it has any defects. Space your boards because natural woods will expand over time, and be sure to stain or seal your wood deck when you are finished installing it!

Regular Maintenance and Care

For all wood decking options, it is good practice to keep the deck clear of debris, especially leaves or things that could keep moisture on the deck and could contribute to rot or warping. For each type of wood, natural woods that is, you will need to regularly stain or seal the wood to ensure its full durability. Staining and sealing the natural wood also helps preserve its natural beauty and keeps it looking its best.

Seasonal Considerations

When fall comes around, if you have leaves piling up on your outdoor deck, you will need to make sure you regularly clear those off so that they do not trap moisture on your deck. This could lead to warping or rotting of the wood.


Wood types for decking

Choosing the best wood for decking depends on a number of factors, as you have seen by now! Things like cost, level of maintenance, and lifespan all factor in along with what the wood looks like. So be sure to balance aesthetics and functionality when selecting your decking material. With plenty of choices of natural woods, there is a right type of wood for everyone’s decking needs!


What is the most cost-effective wood for decking?

The most cost-effective wood for decking, up front at least, is pressure-treated lumber.

Which type of wood decking lasts the longest?

As far as natural woods, the longest lasting natural woods for decking are Ipe or redwood. Both of these types of woods last for decades, or around 30 years, with proper maintenance. Composite wood decking can last up to 50 years, but is not a natural wood decking material because plastic is among the composite materials.

How do I choose the right wood for my climate?

Climate considerations are important if you live in a wet area. In that case, make sure that you choose a type of wood that is naturally rot resistant and does not warp easily. Tropical hardwoods will be the most durable for wetter environments, with cedar and redwood close behind.

Want a trusted expert to handle your outdoor project?
Just use our zero hassle quoting tool to get a free quote and let our world-class team turn your project into reality.
Get a FREE quote