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Cost and Value of Redwood vs. Plastic Decking

Cost and Value of Redwood vs. Plastic Decking

Building a deck is a significant investment in your home, and you’ll want to make sure your new deck looks great and lasts for years to come. The cost and long-term value of your deck can be significantly influenced by the building materials used, and there are specific differences to consider between redwood and plastic composite decking materials.

Material and Construction Costs

The cost of a redwood decking can be quite economical compared to plastic decking materials (as well as Cedar and tropical hardwood species like Ipe). The following are general cost ranges for various deck building materials for complete deck per square foot, supplied courtesy of

  • Pressure treated wood: $15-$25
  • Redwood: $30
  • Cedar: $24-$45
  • Basic plastic composite: $32-$45
  • High-end plastic composite: $48
  • Ipe: $55

Construction and installation is one area where the cost of a plastic composite deck can be substantially more than a redwood deck. This is largely due to the fact that plastic decking has less structural strength. It can’t span more than 12 to 16 inches between joists, unlike redwood which can span up to 24 inches. Shorter spans require more substructure materials and labor, making plastic decks more expensive to install.

A common misconception is that plastic decking is more durable than wood. When it comes to strength, redwood has a shear strength of 1,100 PSI (pounds per square inch) and is very resistant to splitting. Plastic composite lumber has a shear strength of only 200 PSI.

Because plastic composite materials are intense conductors of heat, they can soften and become distorted, making them less stable at high temperatures. Plastic decking is less fire resistant than redwood, with a (FSI) Flame Spread Index score of 80, compared redwoods superior score of 70.

And redwood has natural resistance to insects and decay, in addition to its resistance to shrinking, warping, and checking, making it an extremely durable decking material with a long life span for great value.

Hear one family’s take on the value a redwood deck has added to their home.

Durability and Value

Need more information? Check out our side-by-side comparison of redwood and plastic composite decking:

Category Redwood (Second Growth) Plastic Composite Lumber Key Takeaway
Cost per square foot Star Redwood decks require less supporting structural material making them less expensive to install
Naturally varied color & grain Star Redwood comes in a range of colors and can be cut to different grain patterns
Shear strength over 1,000 PSI Star Redwood has greater structural strength than plastic decking
Stable at high temperatures Star Redwood retains its shape at high temperatures, while plastic decking can become “springy” or “bouncy”
Comfortable at high temperatures Star Redwood conducts less heat than plastic composite material on hot, sunny days; plastic decks can be uncomfortable to bare feet
Resists insects and decay Star Star Redwood and plastic decks both resist termites and decay
Naturally decomposes after its useful life Star Redwood is completely and naturally biodegradable; plastic composites may not decompose and last forever in a landfill

Learn how the look and feel of redwood compares to plastic decking.

Ready to build your deck project with naturally strong and beautiful redwood? Find out where to buy Humboldt Redwood and start your project today!