Types of Deck Boards [Guide with Photos]

Every homeowner can find a decking board material that works for their needs! Explore different options based on budget, style & upkeep requirements.
Renee Lewis
Renee Lewis
Last Update:
June 5, 2024

Having a deck is such a fantastic way to enjoy your outdoor spaces. Whether you are strictly looking for natural woods like cedar, redwood or Mahogany for that natural look, or you are interested in composite decking, there is a decking board material for everyone!

Decking boards that make up the floor of your deck are available in a variety of materials and they all have their own pros and cons! When trying to decide what type of decking to choose, consider factors like upfront costs, maintenance required over the years, and color options!

Decking material options include pressure-treated wood, or natural woods including softwoods and hardwoods. When it comes to picking the best decking material, consider all types of decking materials and types of wood, as well as composite decking like trex, before making your final decision! This post will help provide an overview of the different types of decking boards and the pros and cons of each to help you choose the best decking material for your deck project.

Types of Decking Boards

Types of decking boards

Let’s go over some of the basic types of decking boards. We will provide details to help you decide whether it is the right decking board material for your home improvement project!

Wood Decking Boards

Pressure-Treated Wood

Pressure-treated wood for decking

Pressure-treated wood is the most economical option per square foot as far as common decking board materials go. Its cost is between $15 and $20 per square foot. Pressure treated wood has been chemically treated to withstand things like moisture and mildew and insects like termites. The injects preservatives into the wood beyond the surface that extend the pressure-treated lumber’s lifespan compared to natural wood that is untreated.

However, your pressure treated deck will require regular maintenance and upkeep including sanding or refinishing, and staining or painting every couple of years. If it is not properly maintained, the decking boards will warp and splinter over time. Treated wood is sometimes avoided because it is not considered overly eco-friendly due to the chemicals and preservatives injected into it. Others argue that since treated wood lasts longer than untreated wood it should be seen as eco-friendly as it prevents more trees from being cut down!

The life expectancy for a pressure-treated wood deck depends on a number of factors, including the type of wood that is treated as well as how well maintenance and upkeep are carried out. Climate also plays a role in the lifespan of this type of deck. But on average, you can expect a pressure-treated deck to last between 15-20 years.

Cedar Wood

Unlike pressure-treated wood, cedar wood is a natural wood decking material that has innate properties that make it naturally resistant to rot, decay and insects. Cedar wood decks can last for 15 to 20 years with proper maintenance and upkeep. This type of decking material can stand up to extremes in terms of temperature and weather! Cedar decking boards also have beautiful natural wood grain patterns in them that you do not see in composite decking.

The upfront cost for cedar decking makes it a more expensive option than some of the others. It costs between $20 and $40 per square foot. But if your goal is to have a natural wood deck that is eco-friendly and has a beautiful patina, cedar decking is for you!


Redwood decking boards

Redwood is another beautiful natural wood decking material option. It is a bit less expensive than cedar, averaging between $15 to $25 per square foot. Like the previous decking material options, this type of wood when used as decking material can last on average about 15 to 20 years. Redwood has a striking red coloring to the wood. It also, like cedar, has natural oils that make it durable and naturally resistant to moisture and insects.

Because redwood is untreated, it is also considered an eco-friendly traditional wood option. As far as decking looks go, redwood is one of the most beautiful types of wood to use in a deck project! A redwood deck will require regular maintenance, but is not as prone to splitting and rot like other types of wood.

Tropical Hardwoods (e.g., Ipe, Mahogany)

Speaking of striking decking looks, tropical hardwoods like Mahogany and Ipe will give your deck design a really unique look. Mahogany is known for its perceived hardness, knot-free wood grain, and reddish color. It is also a type of wood that is naturally resistant to rot, being from wetter, tropical environments it would have to be, right? Mahogany can last over 20 years, but not as long as some other hardwoods like Ipe. Mahogany is a premium choice for outdoor decks and costs around $30 per square foot. This type of wood is also known for being low maintenance, but still does require regular sealing.

Ipe has one of the longest lifespans of any type of decking material, and among the hardwood options. Ipe decking can easily last over 40 years, and even longer with extra oil treatment and maintenance. However, Ipe is expensive and hard to find! Ipe decking can cost up to $65 per square foot.

Composite Decking

Composite decking boards

Composite decking is not a natural wood option but is extremely popular among homeowners. It is made from plastic decking and other recycled materials including wood fibers. It is known for its long lifespan and for lasting between 30 and 50 years! Composite decking has almost no maintenance required which appeals to many homeowners as well.

However, composite decking is an expensive option if you are thinking just about the upfront costs. Composite decking boards can cost between $25 and $45 per square foot. However, the fact that it can last nearly twice as long as decks made from less expensive natural woods is definitely an advantage for those who can afford the upfront investment.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Decking Boards

When you are considering what type of decking material to invest in for your next deck project, it is important to think about things like durability and maintenance. How long are you expecting the deck to last? How much maintenance and upkeep can you really commit to doing over the years? Some decking materials require sanding, sealing, or staining and repainting every couple of years. So it is important to really think about how much you want to sign up for! If you are looking for an extremely low maintenance decking material option, look into composite deck boards. They have a higher upfront cost, but last longer than the natural wood or pressure-treated wood decking materials and have almost no maintenance required!

Aesthetic Appeal

Another factor to keep in mind when you are picking out your decking boards is, of course, the aesthetic appeal! If you are going to be installing and investing in a brand new deck, you definitely want to see it and smile. So be sure to check out all of the different color options, the wood grain options, and grab samples of the materials to try out at your home.

Environmental Factors

As discussed above, some decking materials have environmental impacts that can influence homeowners’ decisions about which one to choose. Pressure-treated wood is created by a process using harsh chemicals and some people just do not want that type of wood at their home. It is not considered an eco-friendly option for that reason.


For decking boards, the costs can vary widely! Pressure-treated wood is the most economical option for most homeowners. It costs the least as far as upfront costs and is still durable and will last for many years. Natural woods including softwoods like cedar and redwood are slightly more expensive but also known for having natural resistance to moisture and insects. At the top of the price scale are tropical hardwoods like Ipe and Mahogany. Ipe can cost up to $65 per square foot compared to $15 to $20 per square foot for the average pressure-treated wood.

Installation Process

The installation process for the different decking options looks pretty much the same for each. First, clear the area of vegetation and any other types of debris. Next, set your concrete blocks and attach your deck frame to those blocks that form the foundation of your new deck. Once you have the deck frame on, adjust the concrete blocks as necessary. Once that is all level, you can start to lay down your decking boards. Be sure to allow a tiny space in between your decking boards if you have chosen Ipe as your deck material. Adjust this measurement based on your environment. Finally, once all the decking boards are laid, you can seal the new deck!


While there is no maintenance-free option out there when it comes to real wood, you can still look for an option with less maintenance like hardwood decking. And there is always the option to spring for composite decking boards if you are looking for a zero maintenance decking material that will last for decades too!

If you are still unsure about what type of decking material would be best for your new deck, you can always seek professional advice. They can help you by laying out all of the advantages and disadvantages to different decking materials as well as tell you what they have seen work best in your type of climate.

Hopefully this guide to different types of decking materials has helped you to start making the decision about what decking boards you are going to use in your new deck. There really is a good option for every homeowner when it comes to decking board materials!

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