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Redwood Vs. Plastic Decking (Part 1)

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Choose-redwood-for-an-outdoor-deckWhen planning for the construction of your new deck, one of the first decisions you will need to make is which material to choose. Plastic and composite decking materials have become popular in recent years. While plastic and composite decking materials are an option for some people, we think redwood decking is the best choice. This week we will explore some of these reasons and finish up our exploration next week with even more reasons to choose redwood!

One of the most touted features of plastic and composite decking is environmental friendliness. With ever-increasing environmental awareness influencing the market, consumers are attracted by this feature. However, some plastic and composites are less environmentally friendly than they may appear. Not all plastic and composite decking products are made from recycled materials. Some are manufactured from virgin materials, which are generally petroleum-based and not renewable. In addition, unlike wood products, most plastic and composite decking products are not recyclable, meaning they will eventually end up in local landfills. Redwood on the other hand is completely renewable, recyclable, and biodegradable.

Another feature highlighted by the plastic and composite decking manufacturers is the idea of a “low maintenance” or “maintenance free” deck. In truth, no decking material is completely maintenance free. All decks will eventually fade or change colors and in most climates, mold or mildew can begin to grow on the surface of a deck. All decks will also require periodic cleaning to look their best. While plastic and composite materials may require special cleansers or steps, cleaning redwood couldn’t be easier. In most cases all you need is a stiff-bristled brush, warm soapy water, and a little elbow grease.

The strength of redwood vs. plastic or composite decking should also not be overlooked. Redwood spans 24” inches on center between joists. Plastic and composite decking products can typically only go up to 16” inches on center. And while redwood is very strong and can handle longer spacing requirements between joists, it is also lightweight. In fact, redwood has an excellent strength to weight ratio. Plastic and composite decking materials are often very heavy and may incur additional labor costs for installation or special tools for cutting, shaping, and drilling the boards in place.