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Treated Wood vs Cedar Decking and Fencing - Which is Better?

When it comes to decking and fencing materials, there are many readily available types and styles to choose from. The two most common wood types available for decking are Treated wood and Cedar. These readily available wood materials make for great quality decks and fences that can last a long time, even decades, if taken care of properly.

We'll be going over the Pros and Cons of treated wood and cedar wood. This information will help you make the decision of which decking or fence material is right for you.

Treated Wood

Pressure treated wood is a pine wood that has been chemically treated to increase rot resistances and lifespan as well as help prevent damage from insects. Treated wood will last 20 - 23+ years if maintained properly.

Pros of Treated Wood


Treated wood is the most cost effective deck and fence wood option. It's used on the substructure on most decks and is a very common material used for decking and fencing as well. This cost makes it an attractive choice when it comes to selecting a material.


Treated wood can be used throughout every stage of the deck building process. It can also be used for multiple features on the same deck, including pergolas, benches, privacy screens, etc.


Treated wood has come a long way over the years. It holds up well to the elements as long as its maintained properly and can last decades.


Many treated wood manufacturers offer warranty on treated wood these days. With the advancements in staining and treating wood, they're confident their product will last.

Easy to Repair

If there's damage or an issue with the decking, fencing or treated structures down the road, it's an easy and quick process to find the same materials and install it promptly.

Rot and Insect Resistance

Treated wood is resistance to rotting and insects. The treatment repels water and insects that are prone to damage wood.

Readily Available

Treated wood is readily available at most local hardware stores. If you need to fix or add on to a deck, it won't take long to get the materials.

Cons of Treated Wood

Fading and Discoloration

While in the sun and weather, treated wood is prone to fading and discoloration, as such, it requires regular staining every 2-3 years.

Splits and Checking

With the harsh weather conditions and freeze thaw cycle, water can enter the pores of the treated wood and cause the wood to expand and contract which in turn causes cracks and splitting in the wood. Applying a sealant will help with this process.


Treated wood comes with the added maintenance of staining the deck or fence every 2-3 years, applying water sealant and regular pressure washing. This maintenance can take time away from your day and is enough to turn those looking to build a deck or fence to a more maintenance free option.


Treated wood is treated with chemicals, the chemicals used to treat the lumber can be harmful to the environment. When the wood is cut it can release these harmful chemicals. Due to this, pressure treated wood should not be used for vegetable gardens and only used in well ventilated areas.

Cedar Wood

Cedar is a popular decking and fencing material option due to it's aesthetics, natural rot resistance, smell and relatively low cost. Cedar can last 18 - 21+ years when properly maintained.


Natural Rot, Insect and Warp Resistance

Cedar is naturally resistant to warping and moisture as well as insects. Due to this natural resistance, treatment is not necessary.

Low Maintenance

Due to its natural moisture resistance, cedar requires less maintenance that other wood types. Cedar doesn't need to be stained although we highly recommend you do.

Temperature and Weather Resistance

Cedar can withstand temperatures and unfavorable weather conditions. It is naturally resistant to moisture.


Cedar is a durable wood which can last through years of abuse


Cedar has a rich, natural tone and is more smooth when compared to treated wood. It can be sanded and worked into a fine, smooth consistency. Cedar makes beautiful decks, fences and features.

Versatile and Readily Available

Cedar can be found at most local home hardware stores, it comes in a wide variety of dimensions and grades which makes it the perfect wood for most features. Cedar can also be stained and bleached into different colours and finishes.


Cedar, although higher cost than treated wood, is still a relatively low cost wood material option.

Environmentally Friendly

Cedar is a very environmentally friendly option, more so than synthetic products. It has a net negative greenhouse gas effect and is renewable and biodegradable. With the foresting industries sustainability these days, its a very renewable option.



Although cedar is a relatively cheap wood, treated wood is cheaper. Which is the difference for some.


Cedar quickly fades to a weathered grey over the course of the first season, which can quickly turn to a deck that looks aged. Due to this we always recommend following the same maintenance schedule as treated wood.


Cedar is a softer wood which is prone to scratches and denting from activities, furniture and regular use.


As mentioned we still recommend staining, sealing and pressure washing your cedar deck or fence regularly to reduce the aging effects that come with cedar. Failure to maintain your cedar wood will result in a grey aged deck that is not appealing to the eye.


Cedar deteriorates quicker than treated wood, even with the added maintenance. As such it's not always the best choice.


Cedar typically does not last as long as treated wood, lasting around 18 - 21 years with regular maintenance while treated wood lasts 20 - 23 years.

Cedar or Treated Wood, Which is Better?

Winner: It's a Tie

Both materials come with their advantages and disadvantages. The truth is, one may be better suited to your needs. Treated wood is a more cost effective solution where as cedar requires less maintenance. They both make for great looking decks, fences and yard features!

Looking for Composite or PVC decking? Click HERE to go to the 'Composite vs PVC' comparison article.

In the Winnipeg area and looking for deck installation? We can help

Q: Which decking / fencing materials have you used in the past? What were the pros and cons of that choice? | Comment Below

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