How To Choose Deck Materials

Today John and Matthew answer a viewer question from Edmonton, which asks what types of wood hold up best in cold weather climates. If you found today’s Online Workshop useful, you might also enjoy our workshop on Hoodfan Designs.

  • Brad W

    Can you comment on the use of composite materials for decking etc…?

  • Matthew North

    Hi Brad – We have actually just selected a composite material for a project that we have under construction and it will be installed in the next few weeks – so I can give you a first hand account of how it looks (and maybe some photos)! We picked a “Trex” product in a light grey. I am trying to stay away from the composites that “mimic” the look of wood, but am choosing ones that are more easily understood as synthetic from a materiality point of view. They are more expensive as a material, but in our brutal climate, they have a much sturdier durability. I am looking forward to seeing how this looks – this is on one of our new LEED candidate homes by the way and LEED likes the idea of composite decking a lot as they take issue with wood being used too close to the ground among other things.

  • Frank


    Have either of you ever considered using IPE wood from sustainable forests. I do not know if it is readily available in your area but it is a very dense and durable wood. Here is a link:

  • RickB

    Ipe (a Brazilian hardwood)is one of the options for decking that should definitely be considered. It combines the durability of composites and the natural beauty of wood.

    What’s more, one of the options for maintaining ipe is to do….. nothing, in which case it will weather to a natural gray finish (that will last much longer, and look much better, than cedar).

  • Matthew North

    Frank and RickB – thanks for the suggestions of IPE – I would love to see some images of the product installed – are there any viewers from Alberta that have used this? Does it stand up in our climate? And the big question…..where does it sit in terms of relative pricing? Any more information would be much appreciated!

  • Boonelumber

    Choosing the most suitable decking materials for your project is easy when you have your plans all finalized. All you need to do is to have a good plan and a good contractor to help you in the completion of the project.