Frequently Asked Questions

1) Composites burn your feet–Redwood does not

2) Composites stain and are very hard to clean–Redwood is easy to clean

3) Composites give off harmful chemicals into the environment–Redwood does not

4) Composites are unnatural–Redwood is natural

5) Composites are prone to deterioration–Redwood is not

6) Composites have a memory and tend to sag–Redwood does not

7) Composites are relatively new on the scene and not proven–Redwood has existed for thousands of years giving unparalleled service

8) Composites, when burned, can give off carcinogenics– Redwood does not


Own your very own piece of ” THE CALIFORNIA LIFESTYLE” , install a Redwood deck today!

Many times over the years, I’ve been asked the simple question ” Why Redwood?”  Although it IS a great decking material, with great natural properties, my answer invariably is much more subjective.  ” Why Redwood?” Because it takes me to a place where 300 foot tall trees fight for a piece of crystal blue sky. Because I can sit on my deck, look at the beauty and be reminded of the wild, Azure colored, rivers that meander through the groves. An occasional Steelhead trout flashing the telltale silver that identifies truly one of the great fish on the planet. It takes me to a place that 30 foot high fern forests block the passage of the most stalwart hiker. And it reminds me that I can still access these same Redwoods, any time I wish to take a trip to Northern Calif. Where the forests are as tall and prolific as they have been for as long as any of us can remember. “Why Redwood?” Because we come along this way one time and I , for one, want to experience the best that nature has to offer, knowing that I was never cheated by someone asking the question, ” Why didn’t you install a natural, environmentally friendly, deck?”

Heartwood, which comes from the heart of the tree, Is all red in color.During the life of the tree, the Heartwood, or middle of the tree, is made up of dead cells. The Sapwood is white in color . The Sapwood which is found surrounding the heartwood, carries the food for the tree upwards, from root to branch. The Cambium layer is one cell thick and is found on the innermost area of the bark. All new cells in the tree are produced in the Cambium layer. Next to the cambium layer is a thin layer of bark called the Phloem. This is the area of the tree that carries nutrients created by sunlight, and water collected by the branches, downward to the roots of the tree. The Outer ring of the tree is the Bark. If the Bark is cut all the way around, so that the Phloem and the Cambium layer have a complete break in them, the tree will die.

One of the largest of the Redwood Trees known, The Lindsey Creek Redwood, was estimated to weigh over 4,000,000 pounds ( about the weight of a saturn 5 rocket) and contained  over 80,000 cubic feet of Redwood. This equates to about 6,500 board feet of lumber. This tree fell of its on accord after living a long life.

A more typical farmed Redwood tree will weigh approximately 50,000 pounds and contain around 2,000-3,000 board feet of lumber. 


Because of excellent forest management, and the fast growing properties of Redwood trees, there is more Redwood available as lumber, and more Redwood trees in the forest, than we had 50 years ago. Redwood is one of the fastest growing of all softwoods. With thousands of acres protected in our parks, Old growth can still be seen and enjoyed! None of this is harvested anymore. Instead, tree farms with excellent forest management, are rewarding us with an abundance of fiber, and, as these are sustainable forests, we will have Redwood lumber to enjoy for generations to come!

Redwood logs are usually cut to maximize the longer length lumber, ( up to 20’ in length).  Most decks are built  with the underpinning ( joists or girders) on 16” centers. This maximizes the use of 4’ multiples in the lumber. If we could produce all 4’ multiples, we definitely would!! However, because of defects, trimbacks are necessary. This leaves 10’ and 14’  which do not fit the normal 16” center without unnecassry waste. If you can configure your deck so that many of the areas will take one of these lengths, often times you can save money by offering your local lumber company to use these lengths they must buy , but have a harder time selling. The yards will often times lower the cost on these lengths to move them out. You save money, they sell hard to move lumber , and a win-win exists for all.

Redwood standards have long been established by the Redwood Inspection Service( RIS). The most used decking grades have always been Construction Common and Construction Heart. Recently there have been an influx of proprietary grades. The question is what are they and how do they hold up to the high standards set by the RIS?  Construction Common, Premium, Top Choice, and Superior Common grades are all graded to the high standards of the Construction Common grade set forth in the RIS grade book. Construction Heart, Deck Heart , and Superior Heart are interchangeable for the Construction Heart grade. There are many other grades on the market that should be looked at closely before accepting them as a Con/Common or Con/Heart grade, as the amount of acceptable downfall has been drastically increased. 

2x4 and 2x6 are readily available in grades ranging from Construction Common to Clear All Heart with many grades in between. 2x8, 2x10 and 2x12 are available for skirting on the deck, and 2x2 is readily availble to make a beautiful Redwood Railing. It is important to take into account, the look you desire , the budget you have, and the area the deck will be built, in order to determine the best size and grade suitable for your use!

The black stains on Redwood are caused by the very thing that makes Redwood resistant to bugs. Tannic Acid is contained the lumber. When it comes in contact with any metal, a black stain will form. In addition , over time, Redwood will trun a grayish color because of Tannic Acid. There are many products on the market that will take off the stain. Oxalic Acid, mixed with water will work. Pressure wahing will work although one has to be careful to not raise the grain with the force of the water. One of the better products we have found is made by Zinsser. It is called Jomax stain, mold and mildew remover for decks. It is a product that , when sprayed on out of a spray bottle, will immediatley take away the stains. Was with a garden hose and the deck comes back to like new appearance!!

When redwood is stained by grease, wine, or a condiment, the staining material can be washed off with water, in most cases. If brushing it with a broom and squirting it with water do not work, the staiined area can be powerwashed. It should be noted that a powerwash nozzle should be kept at least a foot away from any natural wood. If this does not work, Oxalic acid, mixed with water makes a very good deck wash. As a very last resort, Redwood can be sanded, and the edges of the sanded area feathered, so that there is little noticable effect from the stain.

Redwood is naturally gifted with a compound  called Tannic Acid. Tannic acid is the natural chemical which gives Redwood Insect resistance as well as rot resistance. This will allow you to enjoy a Redwood deck for many years to come. Tannic acid will produce tannins which will bleed a dark color. This will NOT harm the wood. However, the appearance will be compromised a bit by the tannins. There are several products on the market  that will last two years and sometimes three years without refinishing  the deck. The wetter the climate the more often the deck will need to be refinished. This is true with all good lumber decks. However, the natural elegance of a Redwood deck is more than worth the occasional power washing and reapplication of a good sealer! With care, a good Redwood deck can give  30-40 years of outdoor enjoyment!

At Redwood Empire, we have the ability to match most siding patterns. We have B grade, Heart B grade, Clear grade and Clear All Heart grade, available in Kiln Dried Redwood. We can run most  Shiplap patterns, Tongue and Groove patterns and Bevel patterns. Please contact us to find the dealer closest to you!!

We are in the process of uploading to our website several PDF files that anyone can download.  They will show grades as well as all current Redwood siding patterns. We, at Redwood Empire, have the ability to match any of these patterns. Because we are a sawmill, and used to running large quantities, we may have a set up fee for a quantity less than 5000 board feet. Don’t let that deter you as we can run anything and our prices to our dealers are very reasonable. From v/rustic to triple lap siding, dont hesitate to call us and we will point you in the right direction to purchase exactly what you need!

Redwood Empire Sawmill is in the process of making a 6’ long 39” high Redwood Rail section. The spacing between rails is 3.5” . The Railing section can be screwed in between posts set 6’ apart . For those of us that like the “narural” look of real lumber, this is a beautiful deck rail at a very fair price! We will have pictures on the website soon!!

Redwood Finger-joint products are available in both trim and siding patterns. Redwood Empire has the stock available in pre primed, class A fire rated, products.When buying Rdwood siding, make sure that all siding is produced with the Rip and flip procedure ( or true vertical grain is used ) to ensure that you receive a product that  is at leat 95% Vertical Grain. A flat grain type of siding product will end up with raised grain when exposed to the weather. When using a Finger Joint Redwood trim item, if you choose a resawn face product, the grain will not raise even if it is flat grain as the resawing “sets” the grain. For any information about Redwood Finger Joint, don’t hestitate to call us at the number listed on our site as we will be glad to give you all the free information on these wonderful products you may need!

One of the products we have had success with to clean the dark stain ( “Tannin stain” ) off of Redwood decking material is called TSP. This is a brand name. It stands for Tri-Sodium- Phosphate ( Oxalic Acid). This product is realtively inexpensive. It comes in a crystalized form. I found that, when mixed with water to the desirable dilution, I could brush it on and wash it off. The deck turns to like new condition.  There are several products on the market that are quite good to clean Redwood decks. TSP seems to be and the less expensive end of the spectrum.