When building a deck, one of the first challenges that you will face is picking the right material. While there is no “best” type of wood for outdoor decking, there are some that stand out as a clear choice–and one of them is cedar.
Cedar is one of the most popular decking materials available today. Part of this can be attributed to the long lifespan that this type of wood provides. However, just like with any other material, there are several factors that affect the lifespan of cedar decking.
All that said, how long does cedar decking last? And what are the factors that determine exactly how long before you’ll need to replace the decking? In this article, we will answer these questions once and for all to help you feel confident in making the right decision for decking materials.
Let’s get straight to the point:
How Long Does Cedar Decking Last On Average?
So, how long does cedar decking last?
Typically, cedar decking lasts 15 to 20 years. However, a cedar deck can last much longer or degrade much faster depending on a number of factors. The first and most important one is maintenance.
The lifespan of your cedar decking will greatly depend on how frequently you maintain it. A deck with absolutely zero maintenance will be exposed to the elements day in and day out with no protection. Hot sunlight as well as freezing and thawing will eventually eat away at the cedar’s natural defenses against rotting. As a result, you’ll be lucky to get 10 to 15 years of life out of your decking.
Ten years doesn’t sound too bad if it means you don’t have to maintain your deck. But what if you apply infrequent maintenance? Cleaning, power-washing, and sealing your cedar deck every five years or so will allow it to last twice as long as an unmaintained cedar deck. So, with a bit of maintenance, you can expect your deck to last 20 to 30 years.
What if you want your cedar deck to last for 25 to 40 years? Annual maintenance will be the key. You have to inspect, clean, seal, and repair your cedar deck every year. At the same time, it is important to do spot removal and replace faulty boards as needed. All of these efforts will help protect your deck against the elements, effectively extending its lifespan by decades.
Other Factors That Affect How Long Cedar Decking Lasts:
Maintenance is not the only thing that affects how long cedar decking lasts. Other factors that contribute to cedar decking’s lifespan include:
Location & Climate
A deck that sits in the shade will take longer to dry out after it rains. On the other hand, a deck exposed to the sunlight all day long can lose its sealer due to extreme heat. That said, you want your deck to be positioned in an area that gets varying amounts of sun and shade throughout the day.
The general climate in your area is also going to affect how much maintenance you need to perform. For instance, if you live in an area that is particularly cold and dry, applying a water repellent seal is necessary to prevent freezing and thawing. For areas with hot and humid climates, using sun-blockers is an effective way to prevent the seal on your deck from drying out.
Cedar Lumber Quality
Only good-quality cedar lumber can stand the test of time, which is why you should be extra careful when choosing wood for your cedar deck. Before building with your lumber, inspect the wood for signs of defects, and make sure to avoid soft spots, splits, stains, and knots. Buying lumber with these imperfections can shorten the lifespan of the deck you build. On top of that, you may be paying high prices for quality that won’t hold up - essentially wasting your money.
It may be tempting to buy low-grade lumber, but remember: you get what you pay for! To avoid potential headaches, only buy your cedar decking from a reliable supplier (more on that later).
Is The Decking Coated Or Finished?
A good quality coating will help protect your cedar decking from moisture, which is the number one factor in wood deterioration. Pick a coating that is made with a wax or oil base so that it can repel water effectively. Then, reapply a fresh coat every year to make sure that your cedar deck is always protected.
Pro tip: pour some water on your deck. If the wood absorbs the water easily, it’s time to seal it again.
How High Off The Ground Is Your Deck?
Soil holds a lot of moisture and releases it constantly throughout the day. So, if you build a deck too close to the ground, it won’t last quite as long as if you had raised it higher off the ground. This is because as the soil releases moisture, your wooden deck is going to soak up most of it. Plus, if the deck is directly on top of the soil, there is virtually no ventilation for the wood to dry out after a rainshower.
How Long Does Cedar Decking Last? Wrapping Up
So, how long does cedar decking last?
On average, cedar decking lasts about 15 to 20 years. But with annual maintenance, sufficient shade, a high-quality finish, and enough distance from the ground, your cedar deck can last for much, much longer - up to 40 years, in some cases!
However, none of these will matter if you don’t get high-quality lumber for your cedar deck. This is where we come in. With our top-quality cedar boards, you can expect your wooden deck to last for decades–much longer than an average deck’s lifespan.
Here at G&B Quality Cedar Products, we personally sort & grade all of our products to ensure that we only the best-quality lumber to our customers. With two highly experienced owners, excellent customer service, and a reputation to uphold as the premier cedar lumber supplier, we can vouch for each and every one of our products. Whether you’re a homeowner looking to build your own deck or a contractor preparing to provide this service to your client, one thing is for sure - we’re the #1 choice for all your lumber needs in Ontario!