The Covid pandemic totally altered human behavior. Some changes are here to stay. And many of these changes are very positive. We wash our hands just like mama taught us when we were kids. We are more careful about seating, hygiene, proximity to others and more. We spend more time inside and outside our homes. An escape to the great outdoors might mean sitting out on our backyard deck.
Some of the negative effects of the pandemic from a home improvement viewpoint are the low availability and high price of many building materials. Whoever thought they would have to wait 6 to 8 months for a refrigerator? Long lead times and long waits for building materials have been the norm for the past two years or so.
Some mills, manufacturers and suppliers were totally shut down. When building materials became scarcer, supply and demand drove prices up. Less availability, higher prices. Increased raw material costs, increased manufacturing costs, increased trucking costs and increased ocean freights are just a few more factors that have driven building material prices higher. Decking materials are no exception.
Shaking up the whole building materials price structure has had some unexpected results and some relatively positive effects, too. Decking prices are all over the place. You can get some higher quality wood decking boards at lower prices than lower quality options. It’s worth a look.
For example, some high-density tropical hardwood decking, lumber, and siding species are now priced lower than red cedar and other domestic softwoods. And many of these decking species perform better than higher cost decking. As the price of Ipe hardwood reached some all-time highs, several other hardwood decking species emerged as clear contenders for backyard (and commercial) decks.
Hardwood decking species like Jatoba (Brazilian Cherry), Garapa, and FSC Certified Machiche decking are all high density, high-performance, high-quality decking material options. Not surprisingly, each of these Ipe decking alternates are less costly than Ipe decking. The shocker is that currently, all these hardwood decking options are lower priced than clear vertical grain Western Red Cedar.
Western Red Cedar is a beautiful softwood decking and siding option. People love the natural look of Western Red Cedar, especially the higher end, clear vertical grain cedars. It’s gorgeous. However, A grade Cedar and C+ Better grade Western Red Cedar are hard to find. And when you can find it, the pricing is way up there.
Western Red Cedar STK grade
Sure, moving to a knotty grade of cedar is a lower cost option that can help your budget. But if you don’t like the knotty rustic look, higher grades of Hemlock (Hem Fir) decking are now available. The pricing landscape has shifted and there may be other options you weren’t even aware of that may fit your decking budget and your deck design.
Thermally Modified Western Hemlock decking clear grades
Thermally Modified Hem Fir Decking is available in A grade and C+ Better grade. Both of these two upper grades of Hemlock look great and rival the beauty of other softwood decking options, including Douglas Fir and Red Cedar.
Thermally Modified Hem Fir is also available with a fire-retardant treatment to meet the classification of ignition resistant. This is especially important in high fire hazard zones, and wildland urban interfaces (WUI).
There are many high-density hardwood decking options. Ipe hardwood decking may be the best known, but Jatoba (Brazilian Cherry), Garapa, Machiche, Cumaru and other hardwood decking materials are available, too. The natural durability, high strength, and hardness make any of these hardwood decking options a great solution for a long-lasting deck.
Many of these high-quality hardwood decking options are, in fact, now less costly than cedar and other high end softwood decking products. So, you can buy high quality, long lasting, naturally beautiful hardwood decking at a comparatively lower cost to other decking options. Another huge benefit of hardwood decking is that refinishing it is totally optional. After your first coat of sealer weathers off, you can let hardwood decking ‘silver out’ for a low maintenance decking surface.
Ipe wood is ‘the grand daddy’ of high-density tropical hardwoods. It has incredible strength and durability. Ipe is so hard and exceptionally long-lasting; it has been used on pedestrian boardwalks and vehicles. It’s a great choice for a backyard deck if your budget allows.
If your project budget does not meet the price of Ipe, Jatoba is a great alternative decking product to consider. Jatoba has cherry tones and some tropical graining. Long lasting, durable, and naturally beautiful wood decking, Jatoba is readily available and affordable.
Garapa is another excellent budget friendly, readily available, high density tropical hardwood. Garapa has golden yellow and honey tones.
Need a little deck design inspiration?
Download the Deck Ideas Design Portfolio with over 150 design ideas on 61 pages.