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What type of wood is best for decks and porches?

By Jackie Craven, About.com

Will your new deck be an enhancement or an eyesore? The answer depends on the type of decking wood you use. Pressure-treated pine resists rot and repels pests, but the green-tinged lumber is unsightly and the pesticides it contains are unhealthy.

To build a safer, more attractive deck, choose a prettier yet still durable wood for the floors, railings, and steps. Save the pressure-treated wood for the frame and supports.

If you purchase a tropical rainforest wood, make sure it carries the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) trademark, which certifies that the wood has been harvested responsibly.

1. Western Red Cedar

Western Red Cedar is reddish brown and ages to silvery gray. The soft wood splinters easily, but holds up well in rain, sun, heat, and cold. To add beauty and durability to your cedar deck, use a penetrating stain.

2. Redwood

Like cedar, redwood is a soft lumber that ages to a pleasing gray. Prolonged moisture will cause the wood to blacken. A redwood deck will resist rot, but will look more attractive if you use a sealer.

3. Philippine Mahogany

Philippine mahogany is a tight-grained hardwood that resists pests and rot. Treat it with marine oil and it looks like teak. Or, let your mahogany deck age to a silvery hue. Look for the “FSC” trademark to assure that rainforests have not been harvested irresponsibly.

4. Ipé

Known by the brand names Pau Lope® and Iron Woods®, Ipé is an almost magical South American hardwood. The USDA Forest Service Products Laboratory gives Ipé top marks for bug- and rot-resistance, and the wood is so hard, it’s nearly as difficult to burn as concrete. The use of rain forest woods is controversial, however. If you choose Ipé for your deck, make sure that it has been harvested responsibly.