Consumers in the market for playground equipment or decking often choose redwood or pine for the building material. Both woods have unique advantages and disadvantages, depending on the consumer's environment and application. Pine is generally chosen over redwood primarily due to cost considerations. Redwood is expensive, mainly because it is only found in only one area along the California coastline. However, there are circumstances that make redwood the more attractive option regardless of the cost.
Properly maintained redwood has a beautiful cinnamon color that gives it a rich, elegant look. Redwoods are coastal trees, so the wood is somewhat naturally resistant to moisture, humidity and insects. Therefore, redwood is not injected with toxic chemicals like pressure-treated pine is. Consumers who live in California are purchasing native timber when they select redwood. Therefore, they are supporting the local economy and choosing building materials best suited for their environment.
Pressure-treated pine is substantially less expensive than redwood. While sealing every two years is recommended, pine will not turn an unattractive blackish-gray color like redwood can over time if not sealed. It is 60 percent stronger than redwood in the same application even though both are classified as soft woods. Pine can be used for stairs and structural members unlike redwood. Pressure treated pine structures can resist rot for decades. Pine forests regenerate much quicker than redwood forests, so pine is a more sustainable natural resource.
Sustainability is an issue due to limited growth sites and slow regeneration. Redwood trees can take more than 80 years to mature. Redwood structures often need additional steel support brackets. This is because redwood can't be used alone for structurally significant members or heavy traffic areas like stairs because it is too soft. Also, redwood loses its attractive cinnamon color and turns blackish-gray if a waterproof sealant is not applied on an annual basis. It also becomes susceptible to rot within five years.
Pine does not have the attractive cinnamon color that redwood does, and pressure-treated pine does not take stain easily. Also, there are some safety concerns, as pressure-treated pine contains chemicals -- including arsenic -- to preserve the wood and inhibit mold, fungus and termites. Finally, the wood can be fickle; inexperienced contractors who do not nail or screw into it correctly can cause the pressure-treated pine to split, chip and warp.