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Hardwood vs Softwood Decking: Which One is Right for You?

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About 23.8% of the 850,000 homes built in 2017 had a deck. Since only a quarter of new homes have a deck, it’s likely your house didn’t come with one.

Now that you own your home, it’s time to outfit the backyard with a brand new deck. This will breathe new life into your home and allow you to enjoy your backyard fully.

The question now is, hardwood vs. softwood? Which one is better building material for your deck? We are going to answer all of your questions and help you decide.

Hardwood vs. Softwood: The Truth

Don’t make an assumption based on the names that one type of wood is better than the other. The names have no actual indication as to the physical hardness of the wood.

The two terms come from a broad biological description of different wood species.

What Is Hardwood?

There are broadleaved trees that grow in temperate or tropical climates. In temperate climates, these trees tend to be more deciduous, while in tropical climates they are more evergreen.

This type of wood tends to grow slower to create a denser and more durable wood. Not all hardwoods are suitable for outdoor decking use. For example, balsa is a hardwood, but not a suitable choice for deck material.

Common examples of hardwood are beech, ash, or oak. The most common hardwoods used for decking are teak, cumaru, ipe (also known as Brazilian Walnut), and iroko.

Ipe is one of the best options when it comes to hardwood decking. It’s a rich color, and incredible density making it the perfect choice for the homeowner looking to invest in their home long term.

What Is Softwood?

You will find a lot of softwood trees growing in Russia and Scandinavia. These are coniferous trees that grow faster than the hardwood counterparts.

For it to be used for decking, the wood must first be treated so that it will resist decay from insects and fungus. Common examples of softwood are spruce and pine.

Which One Is More Often Used?

Because softwood is easier to obtain, and therefore more affordable, it’s used more often. Softwood makes up about 80% of the world’s timber.

While hardwood is also used, it tends to be a more significant investment and requires greater skill and effort to work with. It’s more popular with those looking for a long term solution.

Which Wood Is Better?

One type of wood isn’t better than the other. They’re just different.

They each offer different colors, looks, and finishes to your completed deck. They also each require a specific approach and method for installation.

How Do I Clean It?

It doesn’t matter what type of wood you choose; you need to keep your deck clean for it to last and maintain that like-new feel.

When caring for your softwood deck, you need to seal or stain it at least once a year. This is necessary to maintain the water repellant quality. Having the wood repel water means that it’s protected from rotting, the environment, and insects.

You should also sweep or washing it throughout the year to keep it clean and useable.

In contrast, hardwood doesn’t require any seal or staining. The natural density of the wood prevents it from absorbing water.

The only cleaning you should do is rinse and wash with warm soapy water.

Making Your Choice

We mentioned earlier that one type of wood isn’t better than the other. While this is true, you need to weigh the pros and cons of each type of wood to determine which is right for you.

Choosing Softwood

Softwood decking makes a good investment if you are on a tight budget and looking for a short term look-good solution.

However, over the long term, it will require more work to maintain and will not last as long as hardwood. Then even if you maintain it, it won’t withstand the elements as well as hardwood. This means it’ll require year-round maintenance and care.

Choosing Hardwood

While hardwood decking is a larger investment upfront, you are building something that will look beautiful and last for significantly longer than the softwood deck. Plus there’s minimal maintenance for you.

Hardwood is the one to choose when you want maximum durability and looks. This wood naturally grows in places that are high in moisture. So it will handle the rain or snow in your climate with ease.

Choose a hardwood like ipe, and it can last up to a century. That is longer than it took the tree to grow. It also has the same fire rating as concrete or steel. This makes it a smart choice.

Let’s Build Your Deck

Are you ready to get started building your deck? We can help you by providing the best decking that money can buy.

By now there should be no question which one you will choose in the hardwood vs. softwood debate. Hardwood is worth the investment for a lifetime with a beautiful and durable deck.

Ipe is one of the most durable and longest-lasting hardwoods in the world. It has a natural ability to resist bugs, scratches, mold, and even fire. Plus it will stay cool in the hottest of summers. You can’t say that about the synthetic options.

It is important to us that our ipe wood is only legally sourced from Central and South America. Let us help you plan your new deck by browsing our cost comparison sheet.

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