Material Education

Free Deck Plans
Free Deck Plans
Choose from hundreds of permit ready designs. Our deck plans include a detailed framing plan, footing layout, material list and typical details. These plans are free to download as pdf files that can be printed to 1/4" - 1' scale on 11x17 paper.

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Wood Deck Materials


Pressure Treated Wood

Scale Photo Density Weight Elasticity
14,400 psi 590 lbs. 5.2
Description & Longevity
The most popular choice of deck materials in the US, primarily because it is long-lasting and the most economical. About 80% of pressure treated wood is Southern yellow pine, although other plentiful local species are used in some areas. Grain patterns are prominent; its initial greenish color becomes a honey brown before fading to gray. It is available in nearly every lumber outlet – in various grades and in common lumber dimensions plus 5/4 (spoken five-quarter) decking profiles. Tags stapled on the ends of lumber indicate the intended use, e.g., above ground or ground contact. Some dealers carry material that contains built-in water repellent or is re-dried after treatment.

The chemical preservative is forced into the wood cells under pressure. Pressure treated wood usually has a warranty against decay and termite damage, in most cases for the lifetime of the original purchaser. Preserved lumber is also used for fencing, landscaping, walkways, and other backyard projects.

Western Red Cedar
Scale Photo Density Weight Elasticity
7,550 psi 455 lbs. 7.7
Description & Longevity
Newly cut cedar has a color range from light browns and tans to salmon pink. Left untreated it will eventually turn silvery gray and then to a very dark brown. It's graded A, B, C, or D.

This soft wood is more durable than most woods in common use. It is resistant to decay, but relatively soft and quick to weather. Preservative treatment/sealing is recommended.

Scale Photo Density Weight Elasticity
9,800 psi 485 lbs. 9.2
Description & Longevity
Redwood is available in several grades which vary considerably in appearance and quality. The color will vary from a light red to a dark reddish-brown. It's graded in Clear Heart, B-Grade, Construction Heart, or Construction Common.

The clear heart grade is the more durable than the other redwood grades because of its high resistance to decay. This is the grade that redwood has received its reputation on. Redwood is a soft wood and weathers to a yellowish-red very quickly.

Scale Photo Density Weight Elasticity
11,900 psi 775 lbs. 11
Description & Longevity
Honduras mahogany is a true mahogany. There are other species like "Philippine Mahogany" that try to take the well-known name. True mahogany has a woven look to the grain with a courser texture.

Not all mahogany has the resistance to decay needed for outdoor use. The medium to dark red and brown species are more resistant to decay.

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