Inspiration > Lawn & Garden

Choosing the Greenest Deck Materials—It’s Easier Than You Think

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For anyone who loves spending time outdoors, a deck is a must-have. And for anyone who loves the environment, there’s a greater awareness that the kind of building materials is an important choice. Eco-friendly claims from some products, like composite or plastic decking, have proven inaccurate. As more people understand the true qualifies of redwood, it becomes clear: the best decking material comes from Mother Nature.


The Truth Can’t be Recycled

The manufacturing process for plastic and composite decking materials rely on chemical resins and fossil fuels that release carbon and increase emissions. Even worse, the products made from recycled plastics are not recyclable—and so composite decks are all landfill-bound eventually. Redwood trees, however, can be used for decades and then recycled, as old deck boards can be repurposed and used for other projects.

Natural-Born Carbon Trapper

We’ve all heard the importance of minimizing our carbon footprint. It’s directly related to how eco-friendly we are. The lower the carbon, the better.

So when it comes to choosing products that help your home reduce your carbon footprint, there is nothing better than redwood. The trees trap and retain carbon from the air as the trees grow. The carbon remains trapped even after harvesting and milling. How much carbon are we talking? For an average-size, 300-square-foot deck, that’s a half-ton of carbon. You can feel good that your redwood deck helped reduce the world’s carbon. No composite decking manufacturer could honestly say their product does the same thing.

Built to Stand Up to Mother Nature—or a Clumsy Guest

Redwood has unparalleled natural resistance to insects, decay, and fire. In addition, redwood lumber won’t warp, crack, or split as easily. Redwood also won’t stain like composites and plastics, so you don’t have to worry about barbecue grease or red wine leaving a permanent mark.


Refinish As Needed

To better understand the environmental qualities of redwood, we commissioned a Life Cycle Assessment to measure the environmental footprint of redwood decking. This assessment measures the environmental impact from the moment a product is made (or planted, in this case) to the end of its useful life. What we found was that redwood not only beats out composite decking, but it’s one of the top eco-friendly building products.

Redwood has a legendary durability that holds up to the elements with natural beauty while giving you years of carefree performance that is distinctively elegant and naturally resistant to insects and decay. When it comes to creating the perfect deck to enjoy the great outdoors, there’s no greater expression of perfection than redwood.

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Charlie Jourdain
More about Charlie Jourdain

Charlie Jourdain is president of the California Redwood Association. Founded in 1916, the California Redwood Association is one of the oldest trade associations in the lumber industry. From the very beginning, the association’s primary mission has been to promote redwood products and educate builders and consumers on the advantages of using redwood. To learn more about redwoods, visit the CRA at

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3 responses to “Choosing the Greenest Deck Materials—It’s Easier Than You Think”

  1. Enduris says:

    While this has some accuracy with plastic composite decking which integrates wood fibers, flours, and plastics together in an effort to use leftover wood scraps yet using the plastic to make it stronger – yes it in most cases cannot be separated out to recycle and composite decks are still prone to mold and rot due to the wood fibers within them. However, we offer a capped cellular PVC product that not only offers a top of the industry warranty (decades) but also is 100% recyclable at any point in the life cycle. This is because our product is 100% inorganic which will never rot, mold or require painting or staining. While I love a fresh new deck, my conscience on a personal level would never allow me to cut down fields of beautiful redwoods to make it. We believe being eco friendly means making a product that doesn’t destroy the trees and is recyclable.

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  3. You actually made a good point about the use of organic or nature-friendly materials in building a deck in your home such as redwood because it lasts longer and can be recycled if deemed to be replaced. My husband and I have been looking forward to putting up a deck in our home since our spot is overlooking the bay. We thought that this makes a good structure in the home for sight-seeing and relaxation but we don’t know where to begin. Your post was surely helpful in determining the kind materials we will be needing to set it up while looking for a contractor who will do the installation for us.

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