Is Hardwood Decking Better Than Softwood?

Natural wood deck that is stained

September 20, 2021

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Whether you’re planning to build a deck yourself or hiring a contractor to build one for you, there are a few choices you have to make, and one of them is hardwood or softwood decking.

Many people begin by considering what type of wood will look best or they like most, or what goes with the home and yard. While your deck should reflect your tastes and please the eyes, the type of wood and its advantages or disadvantages is a greater decision to make. 

Since a lot of people are unsure what the difference between hardwood and softwood decking is and what constitutes those categories, we’ll start by telling you what hardwood and softwood decking is before getting into how they compare. 

What is Hardwood Decking?

Hardwood decking boards are a category of wood that is usually made from slow-growing trees like oak or cedar, you’ll sometimes see them referred to as “broadleaved trees.” They’re notoriously difficult to process and have a more complex structure. This combined with the time it takes to grow hardwood trees contributes to their higher price tag. 

What is Softwood Decking?

Softwood decking boards are a category of wood that is typically sourced from fast-growing trees that are easier to harvest such as spruce, cedar, or pine. You’ll sometimes see this category of wood called coniferous or evergreen trees and they must be well-treated before they’re used to protect them from fungal diseases and insects. They’re extremely easy to work and more widely available than many hardwood decking materials because, as mentioned earlier, hardwood is slow-growing.

Differences Between Hardwood and Softwood Decking

Now that you know the two wood options you have are, let’s discuss the differences between hardwood and softwood decking to help you decide which is a better option for you.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Softwood Decking


  • Softwood decking is vastly less expensive than hardwood decking, considered to be the cheapest on the market
  • It’s more eco-friendly as it is sourced from faster-growing trees
  • Softwood decking is known to be very easy to work with and to install
  • If pressure treated, softwood decking can have a very long lifespan


  • Due to how easily it can fade, softwood decking isn’t the best option for high-traffic areas
  • Softwood decking has a low density, which makes it a weaker timber
  • Regular maintenance is necessary as well as regular cleaning

Advantages and Disadvantages of Hardwood Decking


  • Known to be very durable and long-lasting
  • Its natural look is known to age well and has near endless design options
  • Hardwood decking is more fire-resistant
  • Hardwood decking is resistant to splitting, rotting, and warping
  • It’s a higher quality timber due to its resilience 


  • Because hardwood decking is very strong it is very difficult to install
  • Hardwood decking is pricey due to the source trees being slow-growing and high quality
  • Requires regular maintenance to keep its strength and natural beauty

Hardwood or Softwood Decking?

Now that you know what the differences between hardwood and softwood decking are, you may be asking yourself “is hardwood decking better than softwood?” It boils down to what is best for your lifestyle, budget, and home. Each has its pros and cons while sharing the same burdens of maintenance. There is no way around that one, all decking requires upkeep. How often is really the question.

If you’re unsure which is the better option for you, you can always ask a professional. We at Masterdecks have specialized in building decks since the beginning of our company. We strive to provide you with the most professional experience possible and are committed to quality, reliability, safety, tidiness, integrity, and communication.

We offer free estimates to make sure you know exactly the price range to expect, another way demonstrates our commitment to integrity and communication. We look forward to helping you choose the right decking for you, whether that be hardwood or softwood decking and to better enjoy your outdoor space and taking the permit process off your hands.

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