Are you planning to build a deck? If so, one of the decisions you have to make is to choose the material for your decking. Many homeowners prefer to use wood. Not only is it beautiful, but it is also affordable and easy to find. But if you chose wood decking, you’d still have to decide what variety of wood to use. When it comes to choosing decking materials, is Cedar better than pressure-treated lumber? 

What is Cedar?

Cedar is a type of softwood used for construction and decking. Softwoods come from fast-growing trees, making them some of the most affordable decking options. While not exactly the cheapest softwood variety, it is still less expensive than many wood options you can choose.

Despite its low cost, Cedar offers many benefits when used for decking. It’s durable, naturally moisture-resistant, and long-lasting. Due to its natural properties, it is resistant to insects and rot. It is also dimensionally stable, making it resistant to warping, splitting, and bending. Cedar often comes in strong and dark-coloured shades, perfect for a rustic and natural design aesthetics. 

What is Pressure-Treated Wood?

deck, cedar

Wood construction materials are susceptible to many forms of damage, such as moisture, insects, and decay. However, most high-quality wood is less prone to these issues. But as for more common types of wood, treatment is necessary for these wood lumber to be viable decking materials.

Pressure-treatment is a process done on wood to protect it from moisture, insects, and weathering. Most wood can undergo pressure treatment, but it is more common in lower-quality lumber such as pine. Wood materials undergo treatment by infusing them with chemical preservatives. Processing takes place in a large tank that punctures the wood, removes the air within the wood pieces, and replaces it with various chemicals. 

Which One is Better?

To know which one better between Cedar and pressure-treated wood, you will have to consider characteristics and traits and compare them with each other. Here are some that you may want to consider when choosing either one of them. 

Cost

When it comes to cost, pressure-treated wood is significantly cheaper than Cedar. Depending on the quality, Cedar can cost twice as much compared to PT wood. 

Maintenance

Maintaining a wood deck is crucial since wooden decks are more likely to suffer from many issues. But since both Cedar and PT lumber are resistant to moisture and insects, they are easier to maintain than other wood deckings. However, the difference is that Cedar will require staining to maintain its colour, whereas PT lumber can’t accept most stains. It can be a big issue for PT decks later on its lifespan. 

Durability

When it comes to durability, both PT wood and Cedar have excellent protection from outdoor conditions. However, of the two, pressure-treated lumber is more weather-proof. On the other hand, Cedar is more resistant to warping and cracking. Due to the microscopic holes left over during the treatment process, PT wood becomes more prone to chipping and splitting. Overall, both can last for a long time with proper maintenance.

Appearance

When it comes to the appearance, Cedar will look better than most pressure-treated wood. Due to the treatment process, pressure-treated lumber may look less natural. While many manufacturers use various methods to make them look better, results are often inconsistent.

Safety

Cedar is the safer choice between the two. Pressure-treated wood often uses Chromated Copper Arsenate as preservatives. When exposed to these chemicals, especially smaller children, it can present a lot of risks. Arsenic, one its main chemical component, is highly toxic to humans and animals. If safety is your concern, pressure-treated wood should be the least of your options.

Sustainability

As mentioned, pressure-treated wood is not the safest due to its chemical treatment. But that’s not all. They can also be dangerous to the environment when processed improperly. For instance, disposal is one of the main concerns of PT wood. It’s not recyclable or reusable. Unlike Cedar or other non-treated lumber, you can’t burn it or saw it. Doing so releases the chemicals in the atmosphere, which can be highly toxic. 

Overall Performance

For homeowners on a budget, pressure-treated wood is better when it comes to costs. However, when it comes to overall performance, Cedar is the better option. It’s beautiful and sustainable. While it requires more care and maintenance, it is long-lasting and durable.

Other Options You Can Choose

Aside from Cedar and Pressure-treated wood, there are other options that you can choose. For wood decking, you can opt for hardwoods such as oak, ipe, and teak. While they are more expensive than softwoods, they are more durable, long-lasting, and requires little maintenance. 

There are also non-wood decking options that you can choose. PVC offers superior durability and weather-proofing. However, it doesn’t look as natural as wood. Composite decking, on the other hand, is as durable as PVC. But in terms of appearance, composites look more natural and wood-like. Lastly, you can also choose aluminium decking. It’s not a common decking choice due to its high cost, but it makes for a long-lasting deck.