Western Red Cedar as a Deck Material

Cedar Decking Low-Maintenance, Durable

Overhead picture of cedar decking "in the round." Cedar is a durable decking material.
Overhead picture of cedar decking "in the round.". WRCLA

With warmer temperatures, fast approaching comes one of my favorite times of the year: outdoor home improvement season. There's something about spring that calls out the DIYers and renovation gurus like no other season. If you count yourself among them, I'd like to provide some information about Western red cedar decks that you may find helpful.

If you're going to build or renovate a deck this spring, now is the time to plan. Building a deck is no small task, but it can be done given a well thought out plan and budget. Next, to choosing your design, it's important to carefully weigh what type of material to use.

When building an outdoor project that will primarily be used as an entertainment space for many years, it's important to choose a material that's naturally stable. Certain types of wood are low maintenance and durable, making them an ideal building choice for do-it-yourselfers. Western red cedar is one such type. Its stability makes it a great material for decking; other products can warp, twist or cup as they expand and contract. This can result in the need to repair your new deck in a relatively short period of time, which can be costly.

Another benefit to Western red cedar is that it comes from forests that are managed on a sustainable yield basis, so there's no worry about depleting our own forest products. Primarily from the Pacific Northwest and British Columbia, Western red cedar is not treated with potentially harmful chemicals, making it a green and sustainable choice. Who doesn't feel good about that?

Perhaps just as important as durability is cost. Choosing a natural material like cedar is a smart investment because it's rot resistant, insect resistant and can stand the test of time outside, saving you money in the long run. Western red cedar also comes in a wide variety of grades, making it affordable for all income levels. For more on what's available, visit WRCLA.

Once complete, the lowest maintenance option for your new cedar deck is to allow it to weather to a soft, silvery gray. With this option, the only maintenance required is to keep it clean and control the growth of mold and mildew with an occasional wash with a mild oxygen bleach solution. If you plan on preserving its natural look, the association recommends applying an oil-based stain to all six sides prior to installation. Oil based stains are better absorbed by Western red cedar than are latex stains. Make sure the stain contains UV filters if it's transparent or chooses a tinted, lightly pigmented formula.

When you start mapping out your plans, don't let the process overwhelm you. The thought put into planning, designing and building a deck is meant to be fun and even a bit entertaining. For a little insight to help estimate costs along the way, check out WRCLA's section on cedar deck design.