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Redwood Decking Prices

When one is considering decking materials, redwood should be at the very top of the list. It offers a distinctly warm appearance, durability and longevity, as well being a certified "green" material.

The Costs

  • The minimum cost per square foot for redwood decking is around $5.

  • The maximum cost per square food is $35.

  • Common grades from sapwood cost around $17 per square foot.

  • Clean heartwood grades cost between $30 and $35 per square foot.

Appearance and Grading

Redwood has been prized for its warm glow and straight, clear grains for years. This distinctive appearance also contributes to its grading, making it functional as well as beautiful. The highest grades of redwood are determined by the wood's clearness, or freedom from knots, while other lower grades are determined by the number, the size and the nature of the knots as well as any stains or manufacturing defects that may be in the decking. 

Architectural grades, which are used for the finest interior and exterior projects, have the straightest and clearest grains while garden grades, which are used for decking and lawn edgings, have more knots and imperfections.

Redwood's Durability and Longevity

Redwood's grading will also reflect its durability and can be most-easily noted visually by its color. The closer to the reddish-brown heartwood from the inner section of the tree a board comes from, the more durable and resistant to insects and decay it is. In contrast, the lighter, cream-colored outer layer of sapwood near the bark is far less resistant to insects and decay. 

As a general rule, buyers should look for the word "heart" in the grade name to indicate heartwood that is typically kiln dried, thus pre-shrunk and stress free. These heartwood grades are used primarily for interior and exterior architectural purposes since they are considered the finest and most costly of redwoods.

The less expensive garden grades of redwood are more affordable because they have more knots. For many deck builders, these grades have a more rustic appearance that accentuates the beauty of the surrounding nature. When choosing redwood, homeowners should consider carefully for what purposes and under what conditions the decking will be used. All-heartwood grades containing knots, such as Construction Heart and Deck Heart, are ideal for posts, beams, joists, deckboards and any work on or near the ground while grades containing sapwood, such as Construction Common and Deck Common, are best for railings, fences, deckboards and trellises.

Clean heartwood grades cost more than common grades from sapwood, so the quality can significantly impact the final cost of a deck, but the investment is certainly worth it. Quality redwood decking is easy to cut and does not need stain or further treatment, so it weathers well naturally. Under most conditions, heartwood grades have a life span of at least 20 years.

In short, if redwood decking is to be used on or near soil, the durability of heartwood grades is essential to the project, and the higher cost is of these grades is worth the investment when considering the lifespan of the grade. 

Environmentally-Friendly Decking

As consumers become more environmentally aware, redwood has been under scrutiny. Recent studies about redwood should ease consumers' worries. During the last year, The California Redwood Association commissioned a Life Cycle Assessment to be conducted by a group of independent researchers. This assessment demonstrates that redwood is more environmentally-sound than man-made plastics and composites when it is harvested responsibly and in accordance with the Forest Stewardship Council's standards.

In a comparison analysis with man-made decking, the LCA showed redwood decking to be a cleaner and more readily recyclable. In addition, redwood is a renewable resource, whereas man-made plastics and composites are not. Specifically, the LCA made the following distinctions between man-made decking materials and redwood:

  • The manufacturing of 1,000 plastic decks can produce as much carbon as 1,000 cars while the growing of redwood absorbs more carbon than is released during the entire manufacturing process, including the growing, harvesting, hauling, and processing of the trees.

  • It takes ten times more energy to produce recycled plastic decking materials than it does to produce redwood; redwood trees utilize the sun's solar energy, and their own biomass helps to power the mills during processing. 

  • Plastic decking made from recycled materials cannot be recycled or composted at the end of its use because of the combination of natural and manmade materials, whereas redwood is completely recyclable. 

Although more exotic or imported hardwoods have become popular and trendy, choosing FSC-certified California redwood contributes to the health of the American economy, ensures responsible forest and wildlife management, and decreases the ecological effect of extensive and expensive transportation of materials.

Last updated on Apr 21, 2014

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