What are the best decking materials?

Q: What are the best decking materials?

A: Decks require some special materials in order to withstand exposure to the elements, pest damage and the wear-and-tear of feet and food. Here are some options and their benefits and drawbacks:

Cedar and Redwood These are some of the more traditional materials for decking. Both have some resistance to rot but will require wood treatment in order to last in wet climates. Both woods are quite soft and subject to some foot traffic damage. These materials are best suited for the decking surfaces and not for the deck structure. In areas like the Pacific Northwest, decks made out of cedar and redwood will only last for about 10 years.
Pressure Treated Lumber Treated lumber is the preferred product for deck structures. It is quite strong and quite resistant to rut and insect damage. "Appearance grade" products are available for deck surfaces and railings.
Composite Materials e.g. Trex® These materials are usually made out of recycled plastics, most are gray in color. They are completely resistant to rot and insect damage. The material can be worked with regular wood working tools but is heavier than regular lumber and not as strong as framing lumber.
Regular Framing Lumber Regular framing lumber such as Hemlock, Fir, Spruce and Pine are not recommended for outdoor deck construction. In outdoor exposure such as decks, this type of material is subject to insect and fungal wood-rot damage and tends to be short lived.
Ipe This is a tropical hardwood product that has a very good resistant to rot and insect damage. Ipe is often used for deck surfaces.