Deck lumber recommendations

Part one:
We're looking to replace our 20 year old deck. What would be the best material to use? I'm not too fond of composite decking, which leaves either redwood/cypress or salt treated. Any reasons not to lean towards redwood/cypress over salt treated? How about treating the wood? Just the top or the bottom also? I don't want to paint it (a friend did that, it looked good for a while, now he's going through the pains of refinishing it).
The deck is going to be 10x20 and will be around 15' off the ground. We live in Western NC at 2800', the deck faces east and will get dappled sun until around 10, then full sun until 3pm. We do get some snow/ice up here. We spend a lot of time on it, I usually eat breakfast outside and my wife and daughter spend a good chunk of their day hanging out on it.
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Do the cost comparisons for Ipe and Mahogany decking. Last I checked they were $2.09 and $1.89 a lineal foot. They are both very good looking and long lasting. I'd put a coat of Penofin oil on them before laying the wood, then just the top surface very couple of years. Ipe is reported to have a 50 year life with no treatment at all. Redwood and cypress are good choices also, along with the Penofin oil treatment.
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Boy, I'd sure consider the composite. Maintenance free, particularly if you don't want to finish it every few years. Paint is stupid on an open deck. Stain and seal is a much better choice. I think redwood might be a little soft for foot traffic. What's the 20 year old deck made of? Has it served your needs w/o major maintenance?

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It's PT. It was in decent shape when we bought the house, now it's looking ratty. I treated it for a while then one year we had a rainy spring/summer and I never was able to treat it, it went downhill from there. Plus we have the cash to redo it, so I figure that the time is right. I could probably redo what's there myself but want something with some ROOM.
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(Mark) says...

I pressure wash my composite deck once a year, which brings it back to looking brand new. The framing is ground contact rated treated wood, even though it sits on concrete, and the fasteners are stainless steel. Replacing a deck once was enough. This one is going to last longer than I will.
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Agreed. I can't understand why I see all these recos for various types of wood. I think the composite looks better from day one, but there's no contest after 5 years. Mines at 5 years now and looks brand new after cleaning. I don't expect that to change at 10, 15, 20.
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Dan Espen wrote:

I don't recall the brand of composite that my hubby used for our finger-dock about 5 years ago. Full-sun, all day, Florida, and it looks like new; well, like weathered wood the day it was put down. Yesterday we had a bit of storm surge from Barry, with finger docks under water for a while. The wood decks are popping boards, ours isn't. Don't know what it is like in a wooded, shady yard - perhaps a lot of mildew? We don't clean it, so it's just "there".
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[snip]

1. If you're satisfied with your use of composites for a dock, please tell us how far apart are the joists for your construction -- I'm considering doing the same thing --
2. If the wooden decks are losing boards, is it possible that the wooden deck boards were nailed in place, whereas your composite material was screwed in place, accounting for the difference?
3. I stumbled on an interesting discussion of composite materials, including info on problems with fading and staining, at http://www.bobvila.com/HowTo_Library/Wood_Deck_Alternatives-Deck-A2111.html
4. We also had a storm "surge" from Barry -- but our lake is so low that there was never a threat to anyone's dock.
Regards --
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My old PT deck lasted 20 years with not much more than a power wash every few years. It was only about 18 inches off the ground and when it was torn off a couple years ago so we could add a room to the house I was surprised the underside of the decking looked almost new! Had I known that I woulda turned all the boards over about 10 years earlier!

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Redwood or cypress will work. Pressure treated works well and readily available. Redwood is expensive unless you live on the west coast, plus it is rather soft. A decking stain will protect the wood much better and longer than a clear coating (I prefer Cabots Decking stain). Coat all sides, paying particular attention to end grain areas. Deck screws are better than nails.
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I'd second the Ipe recommendation. Similarily priced to composite but much better IMO. We have a boardwalk in our town which has been around for 10+ years and still looks good, and being a popular public trail, it gets tremendous abuse.
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