If you’re building a deck this summer, you’ve got a lot of decking choices. Pressure-treated southern yellow pine has long been the low-budget favorite at less than a buck a linear foot. You’ll want to stain or paint it if you use it as decking to keep it from splintering.
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Composite decking, made mostly of recycled plastic and wood pulp, costs two to five bucks a linear foot, and won’t require much maintenance, but it can sag and lose its luster over time. You can find dense tropical hardwoods like mahogany, meranti, and ipe in roughly the same price range, and in some areas they cost less than softwoods like redwood or cedar.
You’re better off attaching hardwood decking with hidden fasteners, since it’s so tough to drill.
A coat of deck oil every couple of years, will help it retain its rich dark color and strength for decades.
Check for the Forest Stewardship Council’s seal to be sure your decking’s been harvested sustainably.
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For more on decking options, consider: