Treated Lumber, Composite, Cedar: What’s The Difference Between Popular Decking Products?

Planning a new or resurfaced deck for 2022? Here’s some helpful tips to start thinking about now!

Building a deck doesn’t just happen overnight. You need to properly design it to be functional and fashionable, you need to choose and order materials, and then you need to actually build it!

Supply chain issues and the rising cost of materials are still a thorn in the side of many homeowners. Thankfully, some lumber prices have been lowering after record highs earlier this year, making the building staple more affordable. That’s why it’s important to plan early if you want to enjoy as much of the year as possible on your new deck.

The type of material you build your deck from can have long-lasting results. Before you get to ordering, let’s break down the differences in the most popular types of decking products, from treated lumber to composite.


Pros: For decades, treated lumber has been the gold standard as a deck-building material.

It’s difficult to beat the authenticity that a treated lumber deck can offer. Decks made from treated lumber just look like what we all think a deck should look like.

This material is chemically treated, which helps it withstand insects, mold, and rot. If you care for it properly and regularly, it can last for many years.

Treated lumber’s biggest advantage is its cost. Despite the rising cost of lumber through much of the past year, lumber prices have started to decline in some cases. That’s giving treated lumber its price advantage back.

With supply chain issues still affecting much of the country, lumber is still relatively easy to find compared to other materials.

Cons: Treated lumber tends to weather poorly. When it’s left to the elements it tends to warp, crack, split, and swell. It’s not uncommon to need to replace a few boards after a short amount of time. 

It also requires more maintenance than other types of decking materials. You’ll need to power wash your deck at least once a year. You’ll also need to stain or put a wood preservative on your deck every two to three years.


Pros: There are many different types of lumber that can be used. Higher quality wood like redwood and cedar offers a range of colors and tend to weather better than pine.

Natural wood, like treated lumber, is generally more inexpensive than other options, however with current market conditions the gap is narrowing. Currently cedar and redwood can be more challenging to get – but not impossible.

Cons: Wood requires ongoing maintenance which can include stripping, sanding and staining. That can increase the overall, long-term cost of natural wood decking. 

Despite being resistant to rot, mold, and insects, natural wood is still the most vulnerable decking material to the rigors of the outdoors.

Depending on the type of wood you purchase, this material can be expensive to purchase and install. 


Pros: Composite decking — also called synthetic decking — is a combination of recycled wood material and plastic, depending on the brand. That makes it generally more durable than its wooden counterpart. It’s also heavier and denser than conventional wood.

Because of its composition, it’s incredibly weather resistant and should never rot or split. That means you’ll never have to worry about getting splinters if you walk on it barefoot.

Because it’s made from plastic, it’s also available in a large variety of colors. It’s virtually maintenance free and requires no sanding or refinishing. All you’ll really need is the occasional washing. Many composite decks come with a 20-year warranty and some even have a lifetime warranty.

Cons: While the appearance has improved in recent years, the look of composite decking still can’t compare to natural wood. Composite decking colors can fade over time, so keep that in mind. For some people it’s an acceptable trade-off versus regular refinishing.

Composite decking can also have a much higher upfront cost, and this is even more true since the recent supply constraints and high demand. No matter the type of material you choose for the finished and visible surfaces, treated lumber is used for the ‘bones’ or structure of the deck. 

Supply chain issues from the pandemic have limited the availability of colors and some style choices. Plan now for the 2022 season by ordering early to get the color and style you would like.  

Are you ready to start planning your new deck? Our talented professionals at Big C Lumber can walk you through the entire process from planning to completion. Whether you’re building a whole new deck or fixing and repairing an existing one, our team is ready to help. Contact us today to get started on your decking project.