Red Is The New Green — In Terms of Decking Material, That Is

March 15, 2015


When it comes to adding value to your home one of the best things you can do is either add on, or upgrade your existing deck. In fact, according to Remodeling Magazine, the return on investment for adding a deck to your home is nearly 81% of the cost of the deck. Not bad. But while the decision to add or upgrade your existing deck might be an easy one, actually going about it is a whole other story. After all, you want to be sure that you’re using a material that looks good, is long lasting, requires little to no maintenance and is good for the environment. So where is one to look in order to find this magical material? Look no further than mother nature and the redwood tree.

The real costs of using redwood vs. a plastic-composite

Using redwood to build or upgrade your deck makes sense for a lot of reasons, the least of which is the cost of the material. According to the folks over at Humboldt Redwood, the *average cost per square foot to build a deck using redwood is $30 per square foot, while the cost of using a plastic-composite material can range from $32-$48 per square foot. Now, that might not seem like much initially, but when you factor in the total square footage of the deck and all the material used to frame and support it, the redwood comes out to be much cheaper. On average, the cost of adding a deck made of redwood to your home should run you about $10,000 vs. using a plastic-composite material which will run closer to $15,000. Clearly, the redwood comes in at a lower cost, but what about all the other factors I listed above? Well, redwood comes ahead in those areas too.

You see, redwood is a much stronger material than its plastic-composite counterpart (up to five times the shear strength!) and doesn’t need as much framing to support it. Which helps to lower the overall environmental impact of the project. But wait a minute, aren’t I advocating for the cutting down of redwood trees? In short, yes. However, just because a tree is cut down doesn’t mean that it has to have a negative impact on the environment. Thanks to the efforts of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), we can have our cake and eat it too when it comes to decking materials.

If you happen upon wood that is FSC certified you can rest assured that the wood you’re looking at was sustainably harvested. What do I mean by that? I mean that the wood was harvested at a rate lower than the growth rate of the forest it came from. And, the company that harvested the wood was also required to plant trees for every tree it cut down. Simple, yet effective in terms of managing the overall environmental impact of the material. Speaking of environmental impact, have you ever stopped to think about all the chemicals and energy intensive processes that go into to preparing your decking material for use? Well, you can rest assured that redwood comes out ahead. Again. Just check out the following eco facts: