Though redwood and cedar are popular decking choices for Colorado homeowners, composite decking is worthy of serious consideration. It’s durable, low maintenance, and customizable — perfect for our state’s demanding climate.
If you’re thinking about transforming your home with a beautiful new deck but you’re not sure which material to use, our team of deck-building experts is here to help. We’ll walk you through all of the best wood options — redwood, cedar, pressure-treated lumber, and tropical hardwoods — then show you how they stack up against high-tech composite decking.
By the end of this article, you’ll be ready to answer the million-dollar question: Which decking material is right for me? Let’s find out.
As a western softwood, redwood decking strikes a great balance between performance and cost efficiency.
Since Colorado is relatively close to California (where most redwood begins its journey!), it shouldn’t come with an ultra-high price tag. That said, homeowners in Colorado Springs or Denver won’t be able to find the same discounts they’d encounter on the west coast.
Here are some key strengths and weaknesses of redwood decking.
Pros and Cons of Redwood Decking
Average cost: $5 to $25 per square foot
- Insect, rot, and moisture resistance: Redwood contains oils and tannins that repel insects like termites. In addition, redwood is naturally resistant to water, so it rarely rots or decays prematurely.
- Aesthetic appeal: Many homeowners are drawn to the rich, reddish-brown hue of traditional redwood.
- Sustainability: Redwood is far easier to produce than plastic, and it’s harvested under the strict environmental standards implemented by the California Redwood Association. Plus, a single redwood deck can store more than a half-ton of carbon, instead of releasing that carbon into the atmosphere — a big win for the environment!
- Frequent staining: Redwood loses its color quickly. To preserve its natural beauty, pressure-wash it each year and stain your outdoor deck every two years.
- Susceptible to dents: Softwood decking is prone to denting and gouging, so you’ll have to treat your deck carefully and spend extra time on sanding.
- Cost: It’s not the priciest wood on the market, but homeowners who are looking to save money upfront should look to cedar or pressure-treated wood.
Cedar has been a top decking choice for decades. Like redwood, cedar belongs to the family of “softwoods,” so it shares many characteristics with the west-coast wood. However, cedar supply isn’t as limited as that of redwood, making it more affordable for Colorado homeowners.
Let’s take a closer look at cedar decking with a special focus on how it’ll perform in the Colorado climate.
Pros and Cons of Cedar Decking
Average cost: $4 to $8 per square foot
- Natural resistance: Just like redwood, cedar is naturally resistant to rot, decay, insects, and moisture. With proper care, a cedar deck can last 20 years or more.
- Sturdy, even in freezing conditions: Here’s good news for Colorado deck-builders: Cedar’s moisture content changes with its environment! As such, cedar is unlikely to warp or crack, even when the temperature falls below zero.
- Versatility: Cedar is available in many dimensions, textures, grades, and colors. Plus, western red cedar is free from pitch and resin, so it excels at retaining a variety of stains and finishes.
- High maintenance: Cedar requires frequent staining and sealing. Even if you opt for the rustic look of unstained cedar, you’ll still need to seal your deck boards every few years.
- Prone to damage: If you’ve got a pet with long claws — or a particularly rowdy bunch of teens in the backyard — you might want to opt for another wood. As a softwood, cedar dents and scratches easily.
If your heart is set on the warm style of natural wood and you’re renovating on a tight budget, look no further than pressure-treated wood.
Before we dive into the pros and cons, let’s walk through how pressure-treated wood is made. First, a block of lumber (for example, douglas fir or southern yellow pine) is placed into a steel pressure chamber. A vacuum is applied to remove the air from the cylinder and tighten the wood’s cellular structure. Then, the lumber is flooded with chemicals that work their way into the wood, increasing its strength and longevity.
Gradually, the wood dries, then it’s shipped to a supplier — and voila! You’re left with sturdy wood decking at an excellent price.
Pros and Cons of Pressure-Treated Wood
Average cost: $2 to $7 per square foot
- Economical: By far, the biggest selling point of pressure-treated wood is its price. At just $2 to $7 per square foot, this material ensures that your building costs remain low.
- Accessible: It’s easy to get a hold of pressure-treated wood. If you’re building a deck yourself, you can quickly secure replacement boards and find boards in the right dimensions for your project.
- Strong warranties: Many manufacturers of pressure-treated lumber offer long-term warranties against fungal decay, termite infestation, and other types of rot.
- Lots of upkeep: Unfortunately, low upfront costs don’t always equal long-term savings. A deck made of pressure-treated wood might need to be replaced after 10 years, whereas a deck made of cedar or composite decking will endure for decades.
- Discoloration: As the Colorado sun bears down on your decking boards, you’ll notice the surface of the boards gradually greying. Be sure to apply a fresh coat of stain or paint every few years.
- Splitting: As the seasons pass, pressure-treated wood boards will expand and contract in freeze-thaw cycles. Over time, the boards will begin to warp and crack, eventually needing replacement.
Tropical (or exotic) hardwoods include a variety of species: mahogany, teak, ipe, and rosewood are among the most popular. Since they’re imported from forests in South America, Asia, and other continents, you’ll have to pay a premium if you use them as decking material.
Though tropical hardwoods are worth considering if you’re willing to dish out some extra cash on your decking project. They’re capable of withstanding Colorado’s intense winters and sunny summers. Plus, a tropical wood like mahogany can be a fantastic talking point when you’re showing your new deck off to friends and family!
Pros and Cons of Tropical Hardwoods
Average cost: $10 to $30 per square foot
- Excellent performance: Hardwood decking isn’t just extremely tough. It’s also naturally resistant to insects and moisture, making it one of the longest-lasting woods money can buy.
- Rich, authentic appearance: Exotic wood species like teak, ipe, and mahogany are anything but tame. They come in a myriad of unusual (and beautiful!) colors, from classic browns to deep reds to subtle purples.
- Prestige: In a neighborhood where 90% of outdoor decks are made from pressure-treated wood or cedar, tropical hardwood will make your outdoor living space the talk of the town.
- Expensive: You guessed it: A major downside to building a deck with exotic wood is the cost. Compared to a more basic wood, a tropical deck can inflate the price of your deck by 200% or more.
- Lack of sustainability: Because exotic woods are shipped to the United States from other nations, it’s difficult to certify that they’re being logged responsibly. Some hardwoods, like ipe, are illegally harvested from old-growth forests in South America.
- Difficult to build: The extraordinary hardness of these woods makes them tricky to handle and install, driving up labor costs.
For many Colorado homeowners, the perfect decking material might not be wood at all. Since its introduction in the late ‘80s, composite decking has evolved into one of the premier choices for Coloradans.
The charge towards composite materials — spearheaded by cutting-edge companies like TimberTech, Trex, and Fiberon — has shifted the deck-building landscape for the better. Composite boards are made of recycled plastic and wood fibers, and they’re becoming increasingly environmentally friendly.
Let’s dive into the pros and cons, courtesy of the composite deck builders at Krueger Brothers Construction.
Pros and Cons of Composite Decking
Average cost: $10 to $20 per square foot
- Unbeatable durability: Composite deck boards are equipped to withstand every type of threat: UV rays, insects, water, and more. They rarely splinter, crack, warp, or dent, and they’re ultra-resistant to rot.
- Minimal maintenance: Composite decking doesn’t need to be sanded, stained, or painted. Just sweep the boards and pick a gorgeous Colorado day to wash them each year, and your deck will stay in tip-top shape.
- Easily customizable: Available in an assortment of colors, styles, and textures, composite decking can be personalized to mimic the look of natural wood or stand out from the crowd.
- Slightly pricier: Though it won’t set you back as much as an exotic hardwood, composite decking is more expensive than cedar or pressure-treated lumber.
- Less natural: If you’re dead-set on the genuine feel of traditional wood, composite materials probably won’t be the right fit for you.
Picking the Best Material for Your Deck
Now that you’ve got a firm grasp on the strengths and weaknesses of each material, it’s time for the fun part: picking the best material for your dream deck. To ensure that you make the right decision, follow these steps:
- Finalize your budget. Forming a budget will help you narrow down your options. Though pressure-treated wood is always a great standby, folks with a more flexible budget might be able to choose composite materials or an exotic hardwood.
- Define your priorities. Want to save on upfront costs? Go for pressure-treated wood or cedar. Looking to make a statement? Rosewood or ipe could be the way to go. Do you have kids and pets running around the backyard? Try a tough, splinter-free material like composite decking.
- Factor in your location. Generally speaking, higher altitudes require sturdier boards. If you’re living in Pueblo, you’ll be able to get away with basic wood. However, if you’re tucked in the mountains near Silverthorne, Aspen, or Vail, you’ll want a stronger material.
- Think about hiring a team of professionals. A simple deck can be a fun DIY project, but serious decking projects (like multi-tier or wraparound decks) usually require the expertise of a trained professional. If you’re in Colorado Springs or the surrounding area, our team at Krueger Brothers can build your deck with world-class precision.
Build Your Dream Deck With Krueger Brothers
Since 2009, we’ve been serving homeowners in Colorado Springs, building beautiful custom decks. From the first consultation to the final inspection, we’ll handle your project with excellence and care. Plus, if you’re overwhelmed by all the options, our deck design team will help you choose the right material for your project!
If you’re ready to fully embrace outdoor living in colorful Colorado, get in touch with us today
Last Modified on 26 February 2024