Any experiences with Cedar Decking? How much maintenance does it need?

My deck is twenty-two years old. It’s held up well. The framing and posts are still like new. The decking boards and rails are showing a lot of damage. Deep cracks and openings are appearing on the top rail. I guess from the years of snow and ice during the winter. I don’t want to wait until my foot goes through a rotten board. :wink: I’ll probably fix the deck this year.

I see no need to replace anything except the rails and decking boards. I’ve heard the government doesn’t allow as much preservative in these boards anymore. So, the posts and framing I have is probably better than the crap they sell today.

I’m debating between pressured decking boards and cedar. I’m concerned about the maintenance for cedar. Looking on the web, I’ve seen comments that cedar requires constant sealing to keep it protected and that you actually have to strip the cedar every few years before resealing. That sounds like way more maintenance than I want to mess with. Is this true that cedar requires stripping and resealing every few years?

How much more does cedar cost? If I install cedar, does it require immediate sealing, or should I wait a year? What’s the best sealer for cedar decking? Poly, Spar Varnish, or something else?

My parents replaced their decking with composite. I don’t like it. 1. It gets slippery when it’s wet 2. Even after five years the plastic smell is terrible on hot summer days. It’s like the sun is cooking that plastic.

I’ve also heard composite is the most expensive option. pressure treated is the cheapest, cedar, and then composite is the most expensive. Right?

Which decking board do you prefer? If you redid your deck which decking material would you buy?

Here’s my opinion: don’t use wood. Use composite decking material.

My opinion: don’t use wood, use PVC decking material. It doesn’t retain heat and will never crack or warp.

There is composite and then there is composite. A lot depends on the proportion of plastic to wood, and to the way they are combined (this I have understood from some amount of research that I did at one point).

I think the best composite will not have the problems you notice with your parents’ deck; you might ask them what brand that is, and see how it rates among the different kinds of composite decking; this would give you an idea of the accuracy of the person or organization who is doing the rating.

Anyway, if it were me, I would start by researching the heck out of composite decking and seeing if you can find one that would meet your needs (leaving cost aside). The higher cost of composite should be offset by the near-zero maintenance and by the longer life. But there are trade-offs, probably even with the best composite decking.
Roddy

If I went with composite I’d have to add more joists.

My parents did that when they redid their deck. They reused the posts and framing. But, had to add extra joist. IIRC composite requires joists on 12 inch centers.

I have looked into Virgin Vinyl decking. This company has a lifetime warranty.
http://www.avinylfence.com/composite-decking.php?pic=dock-cobblestone.jpg

I built a deck about 20 years ago using pressure treated wood for framing and posts. I then put cedar planking down for the floor. It came out great and there has been no rot or need for replacement of the boards. All the wood was treated with Flood CWF while under construction. I stained the pressure treated parts and used Thompson’s water seal on the cedar.

The maintenance of the cedar isn’t that bad. Just use a pressure washer every year or two to clean it up. Use a deck cleaner to minimize the graying of the wood. Then put on another coat of the water seal.

No, it’s not “maintenance free” but it looks great and doesn’t look like plastic.

I have a cedar deck. Sikkens Cetol is what we use to seal and protect it. A light sanding (to remove any loose flakes) and a fresh coat every 18-24 months and it looks great.

Good stuff. However, I suggest following manufacturer’s instructions carefully. A neighbor of mine used composite decking, but didn’t allow for water to drain between the planks. Four years later, the whole deck is cupped and warped and will probably have to be replaced.

Sikkens Cetol is excellent stuff. I didn’t use it on the cedar planks (didn’t know about it at the time) but i’ve used it since on other outdoors, exposed wood. It goes on easy and is very durable.

Also, don’t use spar varnish. It will not hold up. It needs constant sanding and recoating to keep it looking good.