Ipe Decking

Ipe Decking vs. ?

Ipe Decking is a popular choice for deck flooring, but how does it compare to other wood options?

Below is a quick comparison of Ipe decking against all the major decking woods that I am familiar with

  • Ipe Wood – AKA Brazilian Ironwood, Brazailian Walnut. The gold standard today. Ipe wood is so heavy it sinks, so hard you have to used carbide-tipped tools and pre-drill screw holes. It resists fire. It has the same fire rating as concrete. It is perhaps the most rot resistant of all woods. A pleasing dark brown, and easily restored to its original color with pressure washing. Leaving it untreated will result in a silver-gray color. Resists abrasion.
  • Northern White Cedar – US grown soft wood, you may not need stains and sealers but if you use them it accepts them readily. it resists splintering and cupping, ages to a silver patina.
  • Western Red Cedar – US grown soft wood, will require a sealer, tends to splinter and cup, ages to black. It doesn’t accept stain well, so you can end up with a splotchy look.
  • Redwood – US grown soft wood, ages to gray without a sealer, unless it is allowed to remain wet, in which cases it turns black. Increasingly difficult to find.
  • Cypress - US grown hard wood. A pale honey that ages to an even gray. Long the stalwart for outdoor structures in the Southeastern states, it is increasingly rare and therefore expensive.
  • Mahogany – Tropical hard wood, ages to gray, can be treated just with oil to look like teak
  • Garapa – Brazilian Oak. Yellow, streaked with brown, becoming medium brown with age. You can retain its original yellow color with a UV blocking finisher, but no finishing is required if you like the brown. Less expensive than Ipe.
  • Tigerwood – A tropical hardwood. It is a yellow-brown, but with beautiful, irregular, dark stripes. A finisher with UV protection will preserve the striping.

  • Cumaru – Brazilian Teak. A reddish brown to tan aging to gray. A UV finisher is sufficient protection to maintain the brown. Termite resistant. Scratch resistant (second only to Ipe).
  • Jatoba – Brazilian Cherry. Salmon or orange brown when fresh, russet to reddish brown when seasoned. The lighter color can be preserved with a UV blocking finisher. Scratch resistant.
  • Massaranduba – Brazilian Redwood. Dark plum color aging to silver gray. Keep the plum with a UV protective finish. Scratch resistant.
  • Teak Wood – Long the choice for ship’s decking, but very difficult to get, and therefore expensive.

Ipe Decking is still the champ, because of its superior abrasion and rot resistance, but the other woods aren't slouches. You can feel safe choosing the other woods for either aesthetic or budgetary reasons. 

Remember, when considering all the functional qualities you must also think about aesthetics and how this wood will fit with your overall house design.

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