The natural beauty of a redwood deck makes it a prized addition to any home. Redwood decks can last for years and still look great. Yet, because of its limited availability, redwood decking is an expensive material to use.
Why Redwood Decks Last Longer
Known for its long, straight grain and warm color, a redwood deck is also dimensionally stable and easy to work with. It cuts and drills easily. The wood is lightweight for its strength, has excellent resistance to decay and has greater dimensional stability. This means a redwood deck is less likely to warp, split or check. Properly cared for, redwood decks last 10, 15 and even 20 years longer than other wood after construction. Redwood is best to use for highly visible areas such as a prominent deck, as well as railings, stairs, posts or benches.
Expect To Pay A Premium For A Redwood Deck
If you are looking to build a high-end redwood deck, expect to pay considerably more for it than a deck constructed of other wood building materials. As its availability has become scarcer, prices have increased. The grade of the redwood is another consideration. Grades are based on the number of flaws in the wood: knots, sap pockets, splits, and other imperfections. Clear All-Heart grade is the prime redwood choice, with virtually no blemishes or knots. A lower cost alternative is Construction Heart redwood, which will have grain variations and knots. If you plan to do it yourself, expect to pay about $22 to $35 per square foot for redwood (depending on the grade). For a redwood deck that is 20 feet by 20 feet, that would be from $8,800 to $14,000.
Finish Or Not To Finish Your Redwood Deck?
Redwood decking has the unique ability to remain beautiful without finishing. It can be left unfinished - and is one of the few woods that have this quality. As it weathers, several natural color changes take place. These vary from one climate to another. Usually, redwood will even out to a gray or a shade of silver tan.
* Extend the life of your redwood deck and keep the new bright redwood deck color by using finish products that includes a water repellent, a mildewcide and ultraviolet (UV) blocker or inhibitor. This will also prevent redwood decks from the elements.
* Because it is an open-celled structure and it contains little or no pitch or resins, redwood accepts and holds a variety of finishes from clear stain to solid color paints. To achieve a lasting redwood color, use a water-repellent, oil-based deck stain.
* Regular applications of clear water repellents (with mildewcide) can stabilize the buckskin tan color of redwood.
Maintain Your Redwood Deck
Although it is an excellent wood, redwood can still be damaged by wet and dry conditions, by freezing and thawing, and constant moisture. In spring and fall, be sure to clean your redwood deck and protect the surface.
If your deck is older, scrub it with TSP and household bleach to clean the deck and remove mildew. To remove stains and restore the redwood’s natural color, apply oxalic acid. There are also commercially-formulated deck cleaners and restorers available. These are based on non-chlorine bleaches, detergents and/or oxalic acid.
Environmentally speaking, the good news is that the predominant share of old growth California and Oregon redwoods are now preserved in parks and reserves and will never be harvested. New growth redwoods (planted over the past 30 years) are currently being harvested. New growth redwood trees are smaller, with a higher concentration of knots and sapwood. High levels of sapwood can cause redwood to decay faster.