To build a safer, more attractive deck, choose a prettier yet still durable wood for the floors, railings, and steps. Save the pressure-treated wood for the frame and supports.
If you purchase a tropical rainforest wood, make sure it carries the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) trademark, which certifies that the wood has been harvested responsibly.
1. Western Red CedarWestern Red Cedar is reddish brown and ages to silvery gray. The soft wood splinters easily, but holds up well in rain, sun, heat, and cold. To add beauty and durability to your cedar deck, use a penetrating stain.
Learn More: Western Red Cedar Lumber Association
2. RedwoodLike cedar, redwood is a soft lumber that ages to a pleasing gray. Prolonged moisture will cause the wood to blacken. A redwood deck will resist rot, but will look more attractive if you use a sealer.
Learn More: California Redwood Association (CRA)
3. Philippine Mahogany
Philippine mahogany is a tight-grained hardwood that resists pests and rot. Treat it with marine oil and it looks like teak. Or, let your mahogany deck age to a silvery hue. Look for the "FSC" trademark to assure that rainforests have not been harvested irresponsibly.
Learn More: Philippine Mahogany
4. IpéKnown by the brand names Pau Lope® and Iron Woods®, Ipé is an almost magical South American hardwood. The USDA Forest Service Products Laboratory gives Ipé top marks for bug- and rot-resistance, and the wood is so hard, it's nearly as difficult to burn as concrete. The use of rain forest woods is controversial, however. If you choose Ipé for your deck, make sure that it has been harvested responsibly.
Learn More: Pau Lope®
Learn More: Iron Woods®
5. Mock LumberModern alternatives for outdoor decking include plastic polymer and wood-polymer composites. Synthetic materials are virtually bug-proof and rot proof, but even the most realistic imitation will always be just that an imitation.
Learn More: Non-Wood Decking Alternatives