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Redwood red-hot trend for outdoor decks

Redwood is a red-hot choice for outdoor decking and proves sustainable.
Redwood is a red-hot choice for outdoor decking and proves sustainable.
Photo by Colorado Redwood Association

Summer starts officially tomorrow, luring people outdoors, oftentimes onto decks. Outdoor decks are larger in Denver and other parts of Colorado, according to Charlie Jourdain, who serves as President of the California Redwood Association, where he’s worked for 26 years.

“People in Colorado simply want to be on their deck outside, and this is probably because of the amazing views and great weather,” Jourdain said.

In Denver and elsewhere in Colorado, popular deck features include shade structures such as trellises and pergolas to provide respite from intense sunshine at high altitude. Built-in benches provide architectural interest and no-brainer seating. And another deck trend is built-in pizza ovens, according to Jourdain.

“Folks with existing decks will be adding additional square feet to their decks and adding these site amenities as well, greatly enhancing their outdoor living experience,” he said.

Sustainable redwood an environmentally friendly option

Jourdain said that redwood remains an extremely popular choice for outdoor living spaces in Denver and Colorado, where decks tend to be larger than in the rest of the nation.

“Perhaps the biggest trend is homeowners moving from man-made materials such as plastic and composite decking toward more natural, more eco-friendly material, such as wood,” he said.
“Though plastic composite materials have their place, low-maintenance natural materials like redwood is attracting a lot of homeowners because it is about five times stronger than plastic/composite and is a far more eco-friendly, actually removing carbon from the atmosphere while plastic has a very heavy eco-footprint,” he said. “Redwood has become perhaps the most eco-friendly building material available because virtually all redwood is also certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.”

“Redwood is a renewable resource that is grown and harvested under the most stringent forestry regulations,” said Jourdain. “Using nothing more than the energy from the sun, and the careful management of redwood forests, redwood is renewable, recyclable, and cleaner to produce than composites or plastics.”

According to Jourdain, about 80 percent of American decks are made from wood: “That can range from redwood in the west to cedar in the midwest to pressure treated southern yellow pine in the south,” he said. There are also some exotic species of wood used. And then some decks are also made out of plastic and composite plastic.”

Wood decking is far more environmentally friendly than concrete, Jourdain emphasized. “In terms of global warming, concrete nearly doubles the potential compared to wood, while emissions are significantly higher with concrete as is waste material associated with concrete. Wood is typically the most eco-friendly material you can use.”

How to maintain a wood deck

Wood adds to the natural beauty of any garden or landscape, yet requires care. To preserve redwood decking, Jourdain recommends three treatments: water-repellant finish with UV protection, a mildewcide for the most protection and slightly tinted stains for longer-lasting finishes.

“Your deck is an investment so you definitely want to take care of it and maintain it the best you can. Maintenance is unavoidable regardless of material — wood or plastic — but you can choose materials that have low-maintenance,” he said. “Redwood is low-maintenance because it has resistance to insects, decay and even fire.”

Homeowner maintenance also should include basic housekeeping , Jourdain emphasized. “If leaves or other debris have accumulated, spend a little time to make sure your deck’s surface is completely cleared off. We recommend using a leaf-blower or just using a broom to sweep it off. This allows you to see the true condition of your deck and keeps moisture from building,” Jourdain said. “To clean out any stubborn debris from between the boards, you can use a high-powered garden hose, or use a non-ferrous bristle brush with some warm water and mild detergent.”

Additionally, for safety’s sake, homeowners should keep an eye on any deck for structural integrity: “Check the stability of your deck steps, railings and posts to make sure nothing seems loose to you,” said Jourdain. “Also, if there are any nails or splinters sticking out, be sure to take care of these before you begin spending time out on your deck.”

Decks can be added almost anywhere. Some people prefer sun decks while others seek shade. Decking can help solve problems such as covering an area where grass won’t grow. Jourdain said that the optimum siting for decks takes into consideration the view. “Most decks will be constructed to maximize whatever view may be available,” he said. “This is why decks are so popular in California, Colorado and the hill country of Texas.

Decks came into vogue in Northern California, redwood country. Jourdain said. “Decks exploded in popularity in the 1960s and early 1970s in Northern California, particularly Marin County. Here you had an ideal climate, incredible scenery, an eco-smart populous and a ready source of the world’s most ideal decking material: real, strong redwood.”

Planning for a deck addition

Homeowners planning to add a deck should consider materials, planned use and budget. “Consider what you value in terms of building materials. For many, attributes such as eco-friendliness, strength, beauty and maintenance are high considerations,” said Jourdain. “Consider how you will be using the deck. If you’ll be entertaining frequently with many people on the deck, you’ll obviously want to go larger, or possibly consider a multi-deck. You might also consider built in options such as pizza ovens. Consider whether your deck will be near a pool or hot tub. There are myriad design options.”

And in terms of budget, Jourdain suggests prioritizing features and allocating enough money to complete the job. “You don’t want to start a deck project and not be able to finish it. Figure out exactly how much you’re willing to spend, and what features of your deck are most important, then allocate appropriately,” he said.

To research deck designs, Jourdain suggests perusing the Seek out places where you can view a variety of decks and dream, such as at And he suggests that homeowners opt for professtionals rather than attempting a deck as a do-it-yourself project. “Most homeowners prefer a professional, and we’d recommend that too. We recommend checking references and certifications before you hire. With the right professional, you don’t have to worry about it turning out to your satisfaction, adhering to building codes,” he said. “But if you do decide to built it yourself, you can find more information at

Jourdain said the best decks result after careful consideration. “Plan, Plan, Plan,” he said. “You will be living on your beautiful deck for decades so take the time, consider the possible amenities, and get ready to enjoy your deck.”

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