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Zion Builders Blog

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  • Writer's pictureRobert Smith

Guide to Choosing the Best Deck Materials for Stylish Outdoor Living

Updated: Dec 18, 2023

Zion Builders, Inc. of Sparks, NV. builds decks of all kinds, shapes and purposes in northern Nevada. When planning a new deck, one consideration is what type of materials to use. The type of material you choose will depend on the look you want, the cost and level of maintenance you are willing to accept. 

Many types of decking are available. Some common types used in our area are Douglas fir, hemlock, redwood and man-made composite decking such as Trex. 


Most people who want a natural wood deck prefer redwood. Redwood is beautiful with red, brown and tan coloring. It is a soft wood that has oils called tannins that termites don’t like, so they stay away. Tannins are a good insecticide but also react with metal. So, coated nails or screws should be used to fasten down redwood decking. 

Redwood comes in two main grades: construction common (con-common) and construction heart (con-heart). Con-heart, as the name suggests, is cut from closer to the center of the tree. So, it has less knots and carries a premium price. Whatever knots are present are incorporated very tightly into the wood and will not fall out. Con-common is cut from closer to the surface of the tree and has more knots and they are looser and more porous. Redwood turns brown as it ages, so staining or painting is highly recommended – on all six sides is best. 

Douglas Fir

Doug fir is also a soft wood that comes in several grades and is lower-priced option than redwood. The most common Doug firs are: #2, #1 and select structural. Select structural and #1 are the best for the same reasons as con-heart redwood: the number and stability of the knots. 

It is very important to paint or stain Doug fir because it is susceptible to rot, termites and other insects, as well as weathering and warping. 

For all our decks, Zion Builders uses Doug fir joists that are treated with chemicals to resist termites and decay. For extra wood protection, we paint all deck substructures black. The dark color renders the substructure nearly invisible when you look at your new deck. You will not see the yellowish-brown of the fir through the gaps left by spacing the boards, usually ¼-inch. Zion paints the joists as a normal part of building your deck, and it’s included in the price we quote. 


Trex brand is an excellent maintenance-free option for decking. Trex offers many colors in several quality lines to complement the exterior of your home. It’s also a “green” product because it is made from recycled plastic film and 95 percent reclaimed wood. It has a 25-year warranty and doesn’t require sanding, painting or staining. 

Zion has built many decks of all kinds. All of them beautiful! Call 775-224-4860 for an estimate for your new deck today! 

Bob Smith is the preconstruction project manager and draftsman for Zion Builder, Inc. he has 45 years of experience in construction. 
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