Time for an outdoor decking? You are likely wondering whether to get a deck made of softwood or hardwood. Since their qualities differ and hence, their performance, longevity, and maintenance needs differ too, this is a serious decision.
Keep in mind that choosing between softwood decking and hardwood decking is not about choosing the good over the bad. Both choices are excellent – it only depends on what you need, what you like, what you want, and what you expect.
The best thing you can do is to consider your options – perhaps, talk to a deck contractor, consider the pros and the cons of both choices, and see what suits your needs best. Allow us to give you the details you need to process.
Hardwood decks are made of hardwood timber, like ipe, Garapa – aka Brazilian Ash, Machiche – aka Mayan Mahogany, and Cumaru. These are the most popular options when it comes to building hardwood outdoor decking.
The main quality of hardwoods is their durability and, by extension, longevity. That’s due to their hardness. Hardwood comes from trees, which grow slowly over a long period of time. This gives them extra strength – hence, their name. The timber of such trees is hard. That’s their main advantage but also their disadvantage when the lumber reaches the hands of deck builders.
Due to their hardness, such woods are hard to work on. They are hard to cut and shape to build decks. And so, the process of deck building is not easy and is not fast. Plus, the cost of hardwood deck construction is pretty high. That’s because hardwood costs more than softwood and due to the difficulty of working on hardwood, the labor costs more too.
Since you will likely hire a deck contractor, you don’t care about the difficulty of building a deck. And so, the main disadvantage of hardwood is its high price.
As for the advantages of hardwoods, they are plenty. Although not all hardwoods are the same, they are all beautiful. They have warm – often dark and reddish, colors and thus, make all outdoor decks look magnificent. Of course, they may be used for the construction of pergolas, fences, and other outdoor woodwork – if you want to match all backyard structures.
As we said, the fundamental advantage of hardwood is its durability. The wood is very durable and so, it lasts for a very long time. At the same time, it’s fire-resistant and it’s nearly impossible to get scratched, rotten, warped, or worn.
Softwood decks are more popular than hardwood decks. Why, you wonder? First of all, due to the expensive price of hardwoods. Then, softwoods are found in most parts of the world while most hardwoods grow in tropical regions. And so, the options among softwoods are plenty. Classic examples of softwood for outdoor decking include cedar, redwood, pressure-treated pine, spruce, fir, and other timber species.
In contrast to hardwoods, softwoods come from fast-growing trees. Consequently, they lack the strength of the trees which have been growing for years and have withstood all elements along the way. The good thing about softwoods is that they are easy to work on and since they are also easy to find, their cost is budget-friendly. The cost of softwood deck building is budget-friendly. As we said, this is one good reason why they are popular.
On the other hand, their lack of strength is a disadvantage. It’s not a coincidence that pines, fir, and spruce are pressure-treated before they are used. They are treated to become resistant to moisture, rotting, bugs, and insects. It’s not that softwood decks do not last for a long time – just not as long as hardwood. The bad thing is that they need regular maintenance to remain resistant or they may split, rot, warp, or get damaged in any other way.
By comparing the two – softwoods and hardwoods, we conclude that the latter is stronger than the former but also more expensive. So, it all comes down to what you want – pay now a high price and enjoy for a longer time or pay now an average price and keep paying smaller amounts for maintenance in the long run?