For decades, redwood decking has been the preferred building material in the Western US. It is good-looking and long lasting, making it the ideal material for an outdoor deck.
Unhappily, most redwood comes from the old-growth redwood forests in California. Although it is a renewable resource, we are using up forest products faster than they are growing, so it is not sustainably renewable.
The things that make redwood trees survive for hundreds and hundreds of years are the same characteristics that make redwood decking a favorite choice. It is naturally fire resistant, naturally insects-resistant to and rot-resistant. This is a wood which is easy to work with and doesn’t warp. It is also resilient and beautiful, whether sealed to protect the rustic red coloring or allowed to weather to a silvery color.
There are two ways to have a beautiful redwood deck without depleting old-growth forests.
FCS (Forest Council Stewardship) Certified redwood decking has been grown and harvested in accordance with specific environmental standards. FSC supports forest management that is environmentally friendly, nevertheless harvesting and using forest products sensibly. FCS products are certified in growing and processing, and you can trace an FSC product’s life backward to the land it was grown on.
The other way to have a redwood deck without depleting forest reserves is to use reclaimed redwood decking. When wood is reclaimed, structures that are scheduled to be torn down are salvaged instead of being thrown away or burned. All metal is removed from the wood, and it is re-milled and re-planed.
Because redwood decking is naturally resistant to rot and insects, it does not require chemical preservation. Chemical preservatives in wood leach into the ground and may be dangerous, especially for children, pets and small animals. That makes certified or reclaimed redwood an environmentally friendly wood to use in building a deck.
The cost of redwood decking has risen in recent years and the quality has gone down because of forest depletion. More knots and holes are allowed in premium grade redwood than before because smaller trees are being harvested.
Redwood decking is still available, and it is still a good choice for an outdoor deck, but there are many new materials available that look astonishingly like redwood decking, but are less costly and have many advantages over redwood.
Whether you choose real redwood decking, or a man-made form, you’ll cherish your redwood deck.
See Also: Building a Ground Level Deck