How Long Does A Wood Deck Last Without Pressure Treated? (2023)

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Daniel Withrow

May 30, 2023

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How Long Does A Wood Deck Last Without Pressure Treated? (2)

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You’re thinking of building a pressure-treated wood deck. But before you start nailing boards to your joists, you might be wondering: how long does a pressure-treated wood deck last? The answer, unfortunately, is not as straightforward as you might hope.

A pressure-treated wood deck can last a long time if it is properly maintained. But how long does a pressure-treated wood deck last? This is a question that many people ask when they are thinking about building a new deck.

While the answer may vary depending on the individual, some general tips can help you prolong the life of your wood deck pressure-treated. In this blog, we guide you about the average lifespan of pressure-treated wood decks and how you can make yours last even longer!

Contents hide

1What is the Expected Life Span of a Pressure-Treated Wood Deck?

2What Factors Influence the Duration of a Wood Deck Treated at a High Pressure?

2.1The type of pressure-treated wood:

2.2The climate:

2.3The amount of sunlight:

2.4The amount of traffic:

(Video) How Long Can Untreated Wood Survive Outdoors?

2.5The type of soil:

2.6Proper care and maintenance:

3Should you Paint or Seal your Pressure-treated Wood Deck?

4Is your Pressure-treated Wood Deck Rotting?

4.1Will vinegar stop wood rot?

5Frequently Asked Questions:


(Video) Pressure Treated wood vs non treated wood used on a deck 2/2

What is the Expected Life Span of a Pressure-Treated Wood Deck?

How Long Does A Wood Deck Last Without Pressure Treated? (3)

Most people have heard of pressure-treated wood, but they may not know exactly what it is. Pressure-treated wood is lumber infused with chemicals to help it resist rot, insects, and weathering. This type of wood is often used for outdoor projects like decks, porches, and playgrounds.

(Video) Deck Rebuild Project - Pressure Treated Wood After 2 Years

Pressure-treated wood is a popular choice for decks because it’s durable and long-lasting.

Because pressure-treated wood is so durable, it has a longer lifespan than other types of lumber. In fact, pressure-treated wood can last up to 40 years if it is properly maintained!

However, the average lifespan of a pressure-treated wood deck is 15-20 years. But with proper care and maintenance, your deck can last even longer!

What Factors Influence the Duration of a Wood Deck Treated at a High Pressure?

How Long Does A Wood Deck Last Without Pressure Treated? (4)

When trying to determine how long your pressure-treated wood deck will last, there are a few factors that you need to take into account. These include:

The type of pressure-treated wood:

There are two types of pressure-treated wood on the market today: CCA and ACQ.

  • CCA (Chromated copper arsenate) is the most common type of pressure-treated wood.
  • ACQ (alkaline copper quat) is a newer type of pressure-treated wood that is less toxic than CCA.

When choosing pressure-treated wood for your deck, be sure to choose the one that is right for your needs.

The climate:

The climate plays a big role in how long a pressure-treated wood deck will last.

If the deck is in a hot and humid climate, it may not last as long as it would in a cooler climate. The same is true for a cold climate. In a colder climate, the deck may not last as long in a colder climate because the wood may crack from the cold weather.

Pressure-treated wood is also more durable than non-pressure-treated wood. The pressure-treated wood is excellent for decks in regions with high humidity and significant precipitation.

The amount of sunlight:

How Long Does A Wood Deck Last Without Pressure Treated? (5)

Another factor that can influence the lifespan of your pressure-treated wood deck is the amount of sunlight it receives. When pressure-treated wood is exposed to direct sunlight, it will start to fade and turn gray. If you want your deck to last a long time, choosing a location that gets partial sun or shade is important.

The amount of traffic:

How Long Does A Wood Deck Last Without Pressure Treated? (6)

The amount of traffic your deck gets will also affect how long it lasts. A deck that gets a lot of foot traffic will not last as long as a deck that gets less traffic. If you have a deck that gets a lot of foot traffic, it’s important to choose pressure-treated wood rated for heavy traffic.

The type of soil:

Another factor to consider is the soil your deck is built on.

  • If the soil is too sandy, it can cause the deck to shift and settle over time.
  • If the soil is too clay-like, it can cause the deck to crack and heave.

It’s important to choose a pressure-treated wood that is rated for your soil type.

Proper care and maintenance:

One of the most important factors in determining how long your pressure-treated deck will last is proper care and maintenance. It’s important to clean your deck regularly to remove dirt, leaves, and other debris.

(Video) Preserving Wood without Pressure Treating

Proper cleaning will help to extend the lifespan of your deck. Cleaning involves using a mild soap and water solution. You can also use a pressure washer to clean your deck, but be sure to use the low setting, so you don’t damage the wood.

Should you Paint or Seal your Pressure-treated Wood Deck?

How Long Does A Wood Deck Last Without Pressure Treated? (7)

You just had a beautiful pressure-treated wood deck, and now you want to protect your investment. You’ve heard that painting or sealing the deck will prolong its life, but you’re unsure which route to go.

Both have their benefits, so it comes down to personal preference. If you want a low-maintenance option, sealing is the way to go. You’ll still need to clean your deck regularly, but you won’t have to worry about chipping or fading paint.

On the other hand, painting provides a more finished look and allows you to personalize your space. If you opt for this route, use high-quality paint and apply several coats for optimal protection.

Ultimately, whether to paint or seal your deck comes down to what you’re looking for in terms of appearance and maintenance.

Is your Pressure-treated Wood Deck Rotting?

Have you ever gone to sit on your beautiful pressure-treated wood deck only to have the whole thing collapse beneath you? Or maybe you’ve noticed that the boards are starting to warp and rot, and you’re wondering why. It’s a common problem with pressure-treated wood decks, and it’s happening for a few different reasons.

First, the chemicals used to treat the wood are designed to repel water, but over time they break down and absorb water instead. This causes the wood to swell and eventually warp and rot.

In addition, the chemicals make the wood more susceptible to fungal growth, which can also lead to rot. So if you’re thinking about building a wood deck, be warned – it may not be as long-lasting as you hope, but proper care and maintenance can help to extend its lifespan.

Will vinegar stop wood rot?

Vinegar is a common household product used for cleaning, cooking, and gardening. But did you know that it can also be used to stop wood rot?

Wood rot is caused by a fungus that breaks down the cellulose in wood, and vinegar is an effective fungicide. Simply mix equal parts vinegar and water in a spray bottle and apply it to the affected area. For best results, use white vinegar rather than apple cider or other vinegar.

You can also use vinegar to clean your deck regularly. This will help to prevent the build-up of dirt, leaves, and other debris that can lead to rot. Simply mix a solution of vinegar and water in a bucket and use it to scrub your deck clean.

So if you’re looking for a natural way to stop wood rot, give vinegar a try. You may be surprised at how well it works.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q. How often should I clean my pressure-treated wood deck?

A. That also depends on a few things, but as a general rule of thumb, you should aim to clean your deck at least once a year. This will help to keep it looking its best and prevent any build-up of dirt or grime that could potentially damage the wood.

If you live in an area with a lot of pollen or other airborne debris, you may need to clean your deck more often. And if you have any pets that use the deck, you’ll definitely want to make sure you give it a good cleaning regularly!

Q. What’s the best way to clean my pressure-treated wood deck?

(Video) Some TREATED LUMBER Rots Faster Than Others! WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE?! (Ground Contact Vs. Non-GC!)

A. The best way to clean your deck will depend on what type of cleaner you use. If you opt for a chemical cleaner, follow the instructions carefully and always wear gloves and a mask to protect yourself from inhaling any fumes.

You can also use a pressure washer to clean your deck, but be careful not to damage the wood. If you’re unsure how to use a pressure washer, it’s best to hire a professional.


A pressure-treated wood deck can last many years if properly taken care of. The duration of a wood deck treated at high pressure will be influenced by various factors, such as the type of lumber used, the climate, and how well it is maintained. It is important to keep in mind that proper maintenance includes regular cleaning and sealing. Be sure to visit our blog regularly for more tips on taking care of your outdoor spaces!


How long will a non pressure treated deck last? ›

A deck made of untreated wood can last anywhere from 10 to 30 years. Decks made of treated wood and composite materials can last as long as 50 years.

How long will a deck last if you don't stain it? ›

The effects that can occur due to a lack of treatment are aesthetic in nature. After 6 months, the wood will start to lose its color and will begin to fade. Ultimately it will fade to grey or silver. This is not a problem in and of itself, and some people prefer this look for their decks.

How long does a regular wood deck last? ›

With traditional wood, the answer to “how long does decking last?” is: Not very long. THE AVERAGE LIFESPAN OF A WOOD DECK: Typically 10 to 15 years. The actual lifespan of your wood deck will depend on the type of wood you've chosen and how well you keep up with wood's rigorous maintenance schedule.

How long does unstained pressure treated wood last? ›

Generally, pressure-treated wood can last anywhere from 10 to 40 years, depending on a few factors. Keep reading to learn more about the lifespan of pressure-treated wood and how to extend it as long as possible.

Can you leave a deck unfinished? ›

While all decks, both wood and composite, will require some regular maintenance like cleaning and debris removal to keep them looking their best, leaving your deck unfinished is your lowest-maintenance option. Environmental concerns are also a valid reason for not using a stain or finish.

How do you protect wood that is not pressure treated? ›

We recommend mixing authentic pine tar with purified linseed oil. These two products can work well to ensure the wood substrate is properly nourished. They can protect the wood against rot and damage.

What happens if you don't stain pressure treated wood? ›

Pressure-treated wood is a porous material. Without stain, any type of paint or sealant, rainwater, dew or snow can easily penetrate the decking. The wood will then swell until it dries when it will shrink again.

What happens if I dont seal my deck? ›

If your deck sealant has worn off, the wood underneath can fade rapidly due to UV rays. Rain: Excess moisture is the enemy of decks everywhere. As rain penetrates small cracks in the wood, decks can start to rot. Mold and mildew issues are common results of leaving a deck without a dependable wood sealer.

Is it better to stain a deck or leave it? ›

Staining a deck will lead to less work in the future.

One of the main reasons the professionals don't recommend staining wood decks is because of the amount of time and energy involved. Stains don't generally last more than a year. This means yearly cleaning, staining and, if necessary, sanding of your deck every year.

Can I use untreated wood for deck? ›

It's better to use treated lumber and know your deck will be secure in a few years than try to use untreated wood for the supports and watch them rot away rapidly. If you're using pressure treated lumber and are concerned about its risks, applying an oil-based sealant is the best protective measure.

What type of deck lasts the longest? ›

Most Durable Deck Boards: PVC

PVC decking is also the top choice for long-lasting, durable deck boards. Much of this owes to PVC's water resistance. It's moisture-absorption that causes most of wood decking's durability issues: warping, splitting, cracking, mold, mildew, rot, and insect damage.

How long does unsealed pressure treated wood last? ›

As a whole, the post and lumber specimens indicate an expected durability of over 50 years for creosote-treated wood and over 60 years for wood treated with pentachlorophenol, copper naphthenate, ACZA, or CCA.

How long does non pressure treated wood last outside? ›

Some say that untreated 2×4's can last up to two years before showing signs of rot and others say it can last even longer. When deciding if you should you use an untreated 2×4 it depends greatly on the application, how much weather and sun it's exposed to and if it's making ground contact.

Can pressure treated wood be left unpainted? ›

Painting Pressure Treated Wood

Although treated wood will prevent decay, mold, water damage, and insect infestation even when left unpainted, it will still be vulnerable to weathering and corrosion over time.

How long can a deck stay unpainted? ›

roughly 20-25 years for horizontal (floors, steps), depending on the elements, etc.

Is it too late to seal my deck? ›

Usually, late summer and early fall are the best times for deck restoration and sealing. However, if your area experiences typically drier springtime weather or summertime temps that don't get too hot, you can likely schedule deck sealing anytime between early April and late October.

How long after a deck is built should it be sealed? ›

While many deck contractors don't want to seal a newly installed wood deck, we recommend that you seal your deck within roughly 1-3 months of installation. This will protect the wood, enhance the natural wood grain, and preserve it for years to come.

What happens if untreated wood gets wet? ›

Normal rainwater will not harm the wood that is used to build homes. Many homeowners fear that wood will immediately rot if allowed to get wet. That's simply not the case. The only thing that doesn't fare well if it gets wet is low-grade OSB.

Does all outside wood need to be pressure-treated? ›

Generally speaking, any wood used in outdoor projects should be pressure-treated. Wood details in your interior design (like cabinetry or furniture) do not need the same level of treatment.

What destroys pressure-treated wood? ›

Rot is a Real Threat for Any Wood

Pressure-treating can make wood water-resistant, but it's not 100 percent rot-resistant. Any time the wood moves, bends, or cracks, water can enter. While this may seem worrisome, the key is to keep the water away.

Will pressure treated wood rot if not stained? ›

The answer to does pressure treated wood rot is simply yes. Any pressure treated wood rot is usually due to a fungal issue. The fungi that cause this are very small organisms that move into the wood and feed on it over time. This causes the pressure treated wood to decay and soften which then turns into rot.

Do you have to wait a year to stain treated wood? ›

How long do you have to wait to stain pressure treated wood? Wait until the wood is completely dry. Depending on climate conditions, pressure-treated wood can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months.

How do I know if my deck is dry enough to seal? ›

Another way of checking if your wood is ready for stain is to pour a little water on the wood. If the water beads up, the lumber still too wet to be stained or painted. If the water is absorbed into the wood easily, it's ready to be sealed or stained.

How do I know if my deck needs to be sealed? ›

Testing the Wood

A water test is the easiest way to ensure that the wood can absorb sealer or finish. Sprinkle water on the deck. If it soaks in immediately, you can seal the deck. If the water beads up or stands on the deck, you may need to wait to seal it.

What does it cost to seal a deck? ›

The cost to seal a deck is around $0.75 to $4 per square foot for the sealant, application materials, and professional labor. If you plan to DIY, you can expect to spend about $0.25 to $1 per square foot in material costs.

What is the best month to stain a deck? ›

Fall Temperatures are Optimal for Deck Stain Application

Deck stains should be applied between temperatures above 50 and below 90 degrees Fahrenheit. These last weeks of September, as well as the upcoming weeks of early October, are ideal for completing this maintenance step for your deck.

What time of year should I stain my deck? ›

Because you want to wait for days that aren't excessively hot or humid, the best times to apply deck stains are in the late spring and early fall, when the weather is moderately warm and dry. Check the weather and find a time when it's not expected to rain for two days before and following the deck treatment.

How long is too long to wait to stain a deck? ›

Let the New Deck Dry and Weather for 3-12 Months:

This reduces the stain's ability to penetrate. The wood will dry and turn gray from the exposure to the sun's ultraviolet rays.

How do I keep my wood deck from rotting? ›

Boric acid (borate) is one of the most effective fungicides for use in treating wood rot. It can be applied to wood during construction to prevent future rot, or as a treatment to stop an active decay fungus from growing.

What is the alternative to pressure treated wood for decks? ›

Along with rot-resistant species like western red cedar and redwood, steel can be a good alternative to pressure-treated lumber for outdoor building projects. Straighter, lighter, and usually stronger than wood, steel deck framing is galvanized and often coated with additional protective layers to resist corrosion.

What is the disadvantage of wooden deck? ›

It can scratch and stain easily and can be prone to cracking and splintering. Timber decking is high maintenance, it requires painting and staining annually which can add to the cost of the decking.

How often should a deck be replaced? ›

A typical wood deck can last anywhere from 15 to 40 years. This will depend on the materials used and the quality of routine maintenance performed. However, if your deck is showing signs of age and is over 20 years old, you should begin considering a deck replacement.

How often should wood decks be treated? ›

For most decks, sealing once each year is a good rule of thumb. Depending on the condition of your deck this can be adjusted, but keep in mind that you should never go beyond three years maximum before re-sealing and staining.

What decks last a lifetime? ›

Ipe wood is the longest-lasting decking material thanks to its density. Your ipe wood deck could last up to 75 years. In comparison, pressure-treated wood may only last up to 15 years.

What is the most durable finish for a wood deck? ›

Solid. Solid stains offer the best protection against UV degradation, so all other factors being equal, they last the longest. They are also a good choice if you need to conceal a severely weathered deck.

Can a wood deck last 40 years? ›

On top of routine hardware checks and replacing boards when needed, cedar decks are high maintenance. But, if you treat it right, your deck can last as long as 40 years.

Do you have to wait a year to paint pressure treated wood? ›

Pressure treated wood needs time to dry out before it's primed or painted. You can expect 3-4 months before the moisture levels fully go down. If moisture beads up on the surface, it's still too damp. You'll know the treated wood is ready to paint when it absorbs water instead of repelling it.

Why is pressure treated wood cheaper than untreated wood? ›

An obvious advantage of untreated lumber is its price; it's much cheaper than treated lumber. Since CCA-treated lumber was taken off the market, new treatment techniques use high levels of copper, which is more expensive. As a result, the cost of treated wood has risen considerably [source: Morrison].

Is it worth sealing pressure treated wood? ›

Although treated wood is protected against decay and termite attack, the application of a water-repellent sealer to all exposed wood surfaces is recommended upon completion of construction. This sealer will help control surface checking (splitting or cracking) and provide an attractive appearance.

Does treated wood last longer than untreated wood? ›

The longer lifespan of pressure-treated lumber is one of the most significant advantages. Although its lifespan is short compared to composite materials, it will last much longer than untreated wood. Depending on its use, pressure-treated lumber can last up to 40 years when properly cared for.

What wood lasts longest outdoors? ›

When you're looking for the best wood for outdoor use, both of these types of wood are naturally resistant to rot and decay, along with being termite and insect-resistant. Redwood and cedar are also known to: Resist warping and twisting.

How do you store untreated wood outside? ›

Unload lumber in a dry place – not in wet or muddy areas. Elevate lumber on stringers to prevent absorption of ground moisture and to allow air circulation. Do not store lumber in direct contact with the ground. Cover lumber stored in an open area with a material that will give protection from the elements.

Is it OK to leave a deck unstained? ›

The bad news is that if the wood is not sealed the lumber will begin to wear at a far faster rate than it would without that protective layer. Exact figures are hard to place, as your home's microclimate and the quality of lumber used will determine the speed of the weathering.

How long does unstained pressure-treated wood last? ›

Generally, pressure-treated wood can last anywhere from 10 to 40 years, depending on a few factors. Keep reading to learn more about the lifespan of pressure-treated wood and how to extend it as long as possible.

Why does paint peel off pressure-treated wood? ›

The chemical preservatives used to produce pressure-treated wood minimize the wood's natural vulnerability to insects and rot, but they also leave the wood rather wet, a state that could lead to your coat of paint eventually peeling.

Can you use non pressure treated lumber deck? ›

This is why non-pressure treated wood is still required for use indoors, and why builders recommended that you only use pressure treated lumber for the support structure of a deck and switch to untreated wood for the surface. Any location where pets and kids spend time regularly should be built with non-treated wood.

How do you treat untreated decking? ›

You can either use a clear restorer which brings back out the natural grain and appearance of the wood, or you can use a decking reviver paint which covers and colours the wood. Both revive your wood however clear restorers still need a layer of stain or oil to protect from weather.

What is the alternative to pressure-treated wood for decks? ›

Along with rot-resistant species like western red cedar and redwood, steel can be a good alternative to pressure-treated lumber for outdoor building projects. Straighter, lighter, and usually stronger than wood, steel deck framing is galvanized and often coated with additional protective layers to resist corrosion.

Does a deck frame need to be pressure-treated? ›

Do Deck Joists Need to Be Treated? Pressure-treated lumber is ideal for deck framing. We also recommend using joist tape or a wood protectant to help shield cut ends from moisture damage.

Can you use wood that is not pressure treated outside? ›

But building code dictates where you can use treated wood in applications — usually where there is risk of excessive moisture. Generally speaking, any wood used in outdoor projects should be pressure-treated. Wood details in your interior design (like cabinetry or furniture) do not need the same level of treatment.

What kind of wood won't rot outside? ›

Some species of wood are naturally rot resistant due to complex chemical compounds that they evolved to protect themselves against decay. Well-known domestic examples include cedar, redwood, old-growth cypress, mulberry, yew, osage orange, and black locust.

What wood does not need to be treated? ›

The three most widely available and suitable exterior lumber choices, not treated with chemical preservatives, include Western red cedar, redwood, and cypress. Your geographic location will determine the availability and cost of these materials.

Should all exterior wood be treated? ›

Untreated Wood

Remember, if your outdoor wood is currently untreated, you need to treat it right away. Untreated wood is the most susceptible to rot, fungi, and general weathering. It's extremely important that you use a wood preservative first.


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