Entries by atlantaseo

Tigerwood Decking V.S. Ipe Decking

Tigerwood Decking V.S. Ipe Decking

Both of these decking materials are stunningly beautiful, cost effective, durable and very resistant to rot and decay. That being said, it can be a difficult task to choose between the two. Below I’ll explore the different characteristics between the two that will hopefully help your decision on which decking material (or siding material) is right for your project.

Before I jump in, I should mention that each of these two species have their own pages on our website. For more detailed information on these two species and other similar species, offered by Brazilian Wood Depot, go to our website, www.bwdepot.com.

Hovering your cursor over the "Decking" tab, a drop down menu appears, showing the Hardwood Decking landing pages.

Let’s start with Ipe Decking. Ipe is known for its incredible hardness, longevity, and natural beauty. Ipe is often compared to concrete in hardness, with a Janka Hardness Rating around 3680. Compare that to domestic Oak, around 1200-1300. Find out more about the Janka Hardness, on the Ipe Decking page. Its incredible hardness is why Ipe is rated to last many decades beyond its domestic wood or plastic/composite counterparts.

Ipe is also very beautiful. It varies from board to board, from light olive to darker, chocolate brown. Grain patterns are visible and obvious, with long arched grains and intermittent dark patterns. Hues of red are often visible in new Ipe boards, but quickly flatten to browns with exposure to sunlight.

UV protectant oil protects Ipe from the sun’s ‘bleaching’ effect. In fact, it does it very well. Without UV oil, Ipe will turn a beautiful silvery-grey color. Allowing these boards to turn grey will not affect the structural integrity of the boards, it only changes their appearance. The boards can be brought back to their original, brown condition with a simple cleaning, and a new coat of oil.

This section of an Ipe Deck shows the color variation, from board to board.

Its ability to be refinished, indefinitely, is one of the best characteristics of Ipe and why it’s such a popular choice for homeowners across the United States. For more information on what happens to Ipe and other Brazilian Hardwoods, in sunlight, check out this video, Tracking Sunlight Exposure.

Now, how is Tigerwood Decking different from Ipe? Tigerwood, also known as Goncalo Alves, is named for its characteristic dark brown or black stripes on a light wheat or amber background. Stripes are spaced out irregularly and provides a very unique character that is not found in many other species.

Tigerwood has a Janka Hardness rating of 2170. You will recall, Ipe was around 3680 and domestic Oak is around 1250. That said, Tigerwood is not nearly as hard as Ipe, but still much harder than Oak. While Tigerwood isn’t as hard as Ipe, it should not be the only determining factor in the decision. It is still expected to perform well for up to 40-50 years in outdoor conditions.

Section of a Tigerwood Deck showing the patterns and colors

Often, Tigerwood will present very light or pale colors prior to sunlight exposure. With exposure to UV, the boards will gradually darken into deeper amber, as you can see in the image above. The striping will remain visible. UV Oil will not prevent the gradual darkening of the boards but will stifle the sun’s bleaching effects.

Tigerwood also tends to be more reactive to materials that it may come in contact with, than Ipe. Some materials that come in contact with Tigerwood boards may cause darkening on the face of the boards. Some of these might include sap from certain trees, runoff from asphalt shingles and contact with certain metals (this one can also be true for Ipe). Finally, Tigerwood performs best in areas that are moderately shaded. This means areas with all day, direct sun exposure, are not generally recommended for Tigerwood. Some applications might include a rooftop deck that is fully exposed to sunlight or a dock on a lake that has no shade. Other applications work great for Tigerwood like shaded decks, covered patios, front porches, siding (interior or exterior), and soffitting. Fortunately, most applications are somewhat shaded so, this isn’t usually the main issue. Check out this senior living facility near Kennesaw, GA that used Tigerwood siding.

Commercial Building with modern architecture and tigerwood siding.

Finally, Tigerwood Decking is less expensive than Ipe. Usually, Tigerwood is about 25-30% less than Ipe. So, if the price point is the deciding factor between the two, Tigerwood would take the cake.

It goes without saying that both species are amazing decking and siding materials. The decision between the two can be difficult, but will rely largely on aesthetic and pricing. While Ipe is technically harder, does the increase in price, over Tigerwood, make it better for your project? Only you know the answer to that. Want more information on these two species? Check out the video below where I describe each of the species; Ipe, Tigerwood, Cumaru, Massaranduba, Purpleheart and Garapa.

The Ultimate Ipe Decking Comparison Guide

The Ultimate Ipe Decking Comparison Guide

Ipe Decking Comparison Guide: Ipe vs. Composite, Trex, Camaru, Cedar, and Other Decking Options

Ipe wood is renowned for the many unique characteristics that make it an ideal material for both exterior and interior applications. To say Ipe is like concrete in the form of beautiful wood isn’t too much of an exaggeration. Ipe is not susceptible to insect attack, mold, rot, decay, fire, and is nearly as hard and durable as concrete. Also, like concrete, this wood will not float on water. 


Ipe Decking Boards

Its most popular application is premium decking material. It also works excellent for siding on modern homes or commercial projects that need something with a soft or warm aesthetic, but also durability and low maintenance.

It’s true, Ipe really can do it all. To read more about Ipe’s color, finishing and maintenance, workability, installation tips, sustainability, and much more, visit Ipe Decking. See how Ipe truly stacks up against other decking options and why it’s our top recommendation.

Ipe Decking vs Trex/Composite Decking

For many looking to replace decking or build a new deck, the shortlist usually includes Ipe and Composite. One popular brand of composite decking is Trex, but this section will cover composite materials, in general.

Purpleheart Decking

What is Composite Decking

Composite decking boards are made with a combination of plastic pellets and wood pulp. They are mixed and manufactured in the most desirable lengths, which are 12 and 16-foot boards. The typical dimensions of composite decking are ‘5/4×6,” which is actually 1” x 5.5”. Other dimensions are also manufactured to fit different deck components, such as risers, fascia boards, posts, rail caps, and other miscellaneous requirements.

Composite lumber has come a long way in the last decade or so. The engineering behind the proportions of wood pulp and plastic has improved markedly. While composite boards of years past may only last 5-7 years, they now have a longer useable life. Still, sunlight and outdoor elements significantly affect the performance of composite decking, over time.

Composite Colors and Aesthetic

As for color, there are some options, but none of them look like authentic natural wood. Typically, composite boards are available in shades of grey, beige, or brown. Some boards feature wood grain texture and       ven color gradients. These are considered premium composite boards and are almost always more expensive than Ipe.

Overall, the color and look of plastic decking is unnatural and is not as durable, sustainable, or appealing as real wood. Unfortunately, when composite decking fades, there is no way to bring them back to their original condition. Many composite deck owners don’t consider the long-term investment to replace tarnished boards, which can cost a fortune for frequent labor.

Ipe Decking can be refinished, even years later, to look almost brand new, a major benefit to using RealWood products. Additionally, natural hardwood like Ipe produces an impressive variety of different wood shadings for a beautiful aesthetic look.

Composite Decking vs Wood Strength

While composite boards have become more durable over the years, their strength and longevity don’t compare to Ipe. Ipe’s hardness is a product of nature, and it is among one of the hardest woods available for decking.

It is not pressure-treated or loaded with chemicals; it’s just a sturdy wood. The Janka Hardness Scale rates woods from a scale of zero (softest) to 4,000 lbs (hardest) and Ipe ranks on the top of the scale with a score of 3,684 lbs. Harder woods will not dent or scratch easily and are incredibly resilient to damage.

Composite boards eventually sag between joists, after several years. They are also more prone to scratches. Scratches or damaged composite boards are challenging to remedy and will require replacement boards. With Ipe, you can sand away the damage or replace the boards without intensive and expensive labor costs.

Ipe varies in color from board to board, and the sanded area (or new boards) blend nicely with the rest of the deck. It blends in so well, in fact, that in a matter of days or weeks, it will be challenging to identify which boards were sanded or replaced.

This is not the case with composite materials. Sunlight causes composite materials to fade substantially. Unlike Ipe, which can be cleaned and oiled to be brought back to pristine condition, composite materials require replacements for damaged boards.

Furthermore, when you replace a damaged composite board, it stands out from the rest and never blends in. Replacement boards have the original color, while the original boards have faded from their original colors.

Environmental Impacts and Sustainability

Both ingredients of composite decking, plastic and wood pulp, are recyclable. However, when the two are combined, the resulting material is either biodegradable or recyclable. It also has little to no value as a reusable material. So, after its life as a decking material, it can’t be reused or recycled.

It contributes to the planet’s growing plastic waste problem. The process of manufacturing with plastics should also be considered when evaluating environmental implications. Byproducts of manufacturing plastics include airborne pollution and the significant use of limited sources like petroleum and freshwater.

Alternatively, according to a 2015 interview with Ricardo Russo, a Brazilian World Wildlife Fund analyst, the Brazilian timber industry provides essential jobs in the Amazon region that are low in carbon emissions.

Ipe lasts for up to 70-80 years and can be reused or repurposed, and it is also 100% biodegradable. Responsibly sourced Ipe can also help stave off forest conversion for cattle/agriculture. Learn more about responsibly sourced Ipe and the many environmental benefits it provides on our Ipe sustainability report.

Resistance to Insects and Fire

Ipe’s natural properties and hardness are resilient to insect damage and even fires. Wood-boring insects like carpenter bees, termites, wood wasps, and other similar species have no interest occupying extremely dense and hardwoods like Ipe. Similarly, insects do not attack composite material due to plastic materials.

However, the two have very different reputations concerning flammability. Ipe has been known to score a “0” or “A” grade in the ASTM “Tunnel Test,” the best score a material can receive. This means it is incredibly resilient to both catching fire and fire damage. It is the same score typically given to steel and concrete.

Alternatively, composite decking, which contains petroleum products, like plastic, is extremely flammable. It is not recommended for use in fire-prone areas. It has even been suggested, by some manufacturers, that it should not be installed near or adjacent to UV resistant windows, because the reflection of light off of windows could ignite a fire. In this metric, Ipe certainly is the safer and more responsible option.

Trex Vs Ipe Cost Comparison

Composite materials are thought to be more affordable than Brazilian hardwoods like Ipe, Cumaru, Massaranduba, Purpleheart, Tigerwood, and Garapa. However, that is no longer the case. Ipe decking costs less than the high-end, dual-toned, brand name composite options, and a little more than the mid-grade, single-toned composites. The other species like Cumaru, Purpleheart, Tigerwood, Massaranduba, and Garapa all cost less than both the high-end and mid-grade composite options.

In conclusion, both Brazilian Hardwood Decking, like Ipe, and composite materials have their unique benefits and shortcomings. Composite materials offer a high degree of consistency in terms of color, ease of installation, and the potential for warranties. Ipe offers natural beauty, durability, longevity, reusability, and sustainability.

Additionally, Ipe wood is biodegradable, more fire-resistant, stronger, harder, and costs less than premium brand name composite materials. For more information regarding the comparison of Ipe vs. Composite, visit this Ipe Decking page.

Ipe vs Azek

What is Azek Decking?

Azek decking material shares many similarities with composite decking. The main difference is that Azek is made of 100% cellular PVC material.

Ipe vs Azek

Azek Color and Aesthetic

Like composite decking, Azek offers decking materials in shades of grey, beige, and brown. Trex (composite decking) is known to do a better job of imitating real wood than Azek. This is largely because Trex offers high-end, dual-toned options. Ipe, on the other hand, looks exactly like real wood because, well… it is. Nothing offers natural beauty as RealWoodTM does.

Azek Strength and Durability

Azek is thought to be more durable than composites, like Trex, based on the weather-resistant cellular PVC. However, Trex offers high-end options that are said to feature a hard exterior coating that is scratch and stain-resistant.

Ipe consistently earns high marks in hardness as we discussed earlier, Ipe scores around a 3,680 on the Janka Hardness scale. As a point of reference, White Oak is usually about 1200. According to this report, Azek has a Janka Hardness of 659. In the world of outdoor construction materials, this is very low. This is usually an indication that the wood is prone to scratching and may not hold up well over time.

A huge consideration when deciding which decking material to choose is the longevity and strength of the boards. Although the initial cost of the decking material and labor may be more inexpensive than other decking boards, soft and unreliable boards will require frequent replacements over time.

Azek Environmental Impacts

Azek decking is made of unsustainable plastic material. The environmental effects of manufacturing Azek are the same as any other plastic product; it depletes non-renewables like petroleum and freshwater. There are also byproducts, such as air pollutants, involved with plastic manufacturing. With a Janka Hardness of only 659, Azek boards are not reusable after its life as decking, but is Azek recyclable?

This is an area where Azek outperforms composites. As detailed earlier in this article, composite materials like Trex, are a combination of two recyclable materials (plastics and wood pulp) that result in a non-recyclable finished product. Azek, on the other hand, is 100% plastic; therefore, it is a recyclable material.

Ipe Decking can be reused after its life as a decking material. It is renewable, recyclable, and supports fundamental, low-carbon emitting jobs. Legally traded Ipe also supports value in natural forests, which can offset the forces that encourage deforestation and encourage sustainability.

Azek Resistance to Insects and Fire

Just like Ipe, insects are not interested in boring into Azek and plastic decking. However, Azek received a “Class A” rating for flame spread, one of the highest ratings that can be achieved. Ipe also receives a Class A rating in the ASTM Flame Spread. That said, Ipe took on significantly less fire damage than Azek, according to Matt Risinger’s flame experiment (see Azek at 6:33).

Azek Vs Ipe Cost Comparison

According to H1ouse.org, Azek costs around $8.12 PLF, for a 16’ board. Compare that to Ipe at about $4.00 PLF. Over twice as much as Ipe! Ipe outperforms Azek in durability, longevity, mold resistance, environmental factors, and natural beauty.

Azek’s workability and ease of installation is the most significant advantage Azek has over Ipe. However, the additional labor of installation with Ipe is still marginal when considering the difference in cost. Azek may be more water-resistant than composite materials but does not compare to the natural water resistance of Ipe. It also expands and contracts more than Ipe Decking, which is key to Ipe’s incredible longevity.

In conclusion, insect attack and fire ratings are similar for both materials. However, Azek is significantly more expensive than Ipe, is not for the environmentally conscious, and does not compare with Ipe’s durability or natural beauty.

Ipe Decking Vs Mahogany Decking

What is Mahogany?

Probably one of the more well-known wood species, Mahogany was originally documented by Westerners in Belize. The species (Swietenia macrophylla) is now found from Mexico to southern Amazonia in Brazil. Mahogany is best known for its application as furniture.

Myahogan Color and Appearance

Mahogany is described as having a straight, interlocked, and wavy grain pattern. Colors can vary from pale pinkish-brown to a darker reddish-brown. Mahogany is also known to exhibit chatoyancy.

Strength and Durability

Mahogany earns only an 800-900 on the Janka Hardness scale. Compare that to White Oak at about 1200 and Ipe at 3680. That said, it is still harder than the other domestic wood, plastic, and composite options.

Ipe vs Mahogany

Mahogany Environmental Impacts

Commercially available true Mahogany is almost exclusively sourced from plantation farms in Latin America. The increasing number of plantation farms contributes to the deforestation of our native forests and raises sustainability concerns.

According to a 2009 Holly Gibbs study, 2-3% of deforestation can be attributed to the lumber industry. The study also asserts that most of that 2-3% consist of plantation forests like Mahogany, Palm, and Eucalyptus. Clear cutting is typically required to create these plantation farms. Alternatively, Ipe is selectively sourced from native forests where clear-cutting is illegal and inefficient.

Mahogany Cost Comparison

Ipe decking can be purchased for about $7 PSF. The cost of Mahogany can vary considerably based on species, availability, and quality. Higher quality Mahogany can cost between $7-8 PSF.

In conclusion, Mahogany provides natural beauty at a similar cost to Ipe Decking. However, it falls short in Durability, Insect/Fire Resistance, and longevity. Mahogany works well for interior uses like cabinets but is not an effective material for flooring or outdoor decking.

Ipe Decking Vs Redwood Decking

Redwood, also known as Sequoia or California Redwood, grows in coastal northwestern United States, from southwestern Oregon to central California. It has been used for many years as a decking material, but can be more difficult to source in recent decades.

Ipe vs Redwood

Redwood Color and Appearance

Redwood can range from a light pinkish brown to a deep reddish-brown. Typically, sapwood is pale white/yellow. The grains are generally straight, however, figured grain is also common. Redwood is also known to be coarse in texture with low luster. You should expect more ‘walnut’ browns from Ipe. The colors of Ipe will vary from dark brown to light, olive-brown.

Strength and Durability

According to The Wood Database, Redwood has a Janka Hardness of 450. Compare that to Oak, at about 1200 and Ipe at 3680. Certainly, Redwood doesn’t compare to Ipe’s hardness, strength, durability, or longevity.

Similar to Pine, Redwood is more susceptible to moisture penetration than Ipe, but does have some rot resistant characteristics. At 450 Janka Hardness, this wood is highly susceptible to pitting and a short life span even with minimal wear and tear.

Redwood Environmental Impacts

Redwood is not listed in the CITES Appendices but is on the IUCN Red List. Redwood trees are the largest living things on earth, from 8-20’ in diameter and up to 375 feet tall. Many old-growth trees are over 1000 years old. As a result of exploitation in decades past, Redwood lumber still carries a stigma of environmental devastation. This lumber can be found with FSC certification, but it will cost more and can be difficult to source.

Reduction in the availability of Redwood has led to an increased cost of lumber, especially in high grades of Redwood like Clear Heart and Select Heart.

Redwood Cost Comparison

Construction grade Redwood can be purchased for between $5-7 PSF. While you could use this grade for decking, it would have many knots and irregularities not ideal for decking. Higher grades, more suitable for decking, can run around $17 PSF.

In conclusion, Redwood Decking provides a real wood natural look, but it lacks the durability, longevity, and resistance to fire and insects that come with Ipe. Also, the price Decking grade quality Redwood material far outweighs the cost of Ipe. Overall, Redwood is a beautiful wood with great workability, but it doesn’t make for a great decking material and certainly doesn’t compete with Ipe on any relevant metric.

Ipe Decking Vs Cedar Decking

There are a variety of Cedar species, but the most common in the United States is Western Cedar. Western Cedar, one of the most common and well-known species of commercially available lumber in the United States, second only to Pine, has been used in construction even before the west settled in the Americas. It is still widely available in the United States and is largely sourced from Canada. It can be purchased in a variety of profiles and cut styles from rough-sawn to clear quarter sawn.

Ipe vs Cedar

Cedar Color and Appearance

(Western) Cedar heartwood is usually reddish to pinkish-brown, with visible random streaks and bands of darker red and brown. Its grains are generally straight with medium or coarse texture of the face of the boards. Coarse deck boards are less desirable. In this measure, Ipe is a far better option because Ipe is very smooth to the touch even after considerable weathering.

Strength and Durability

Cedar earns a very low, 350 Janka Hardness Rating, which means it is very soft. Compare that to Oak at about 1200 and Ipe at about 3680. While it is somewhat rot-resistant, compared to Ipe, its porous nature lends to a shorter lifespan in outdoor applications. For this reason, it is not a very common decking material.

When it is used for decking, it doesn’t last particularly long. It is very susceptible to scratches and pitting. For these reasons, it is often used for other applications; shingles, exterior siding, fences, pergolas, dimensional lumber, boxes, crates, and musical instruments.

It may also be noted that Cedar is fairly susceptible to splintering. Splintered boards are dangerous and are not ideal for decking, especially if you like to walk barefoot. Furthermore, Cedar requires frequent maintenance, and deck owners usually have to sand, powerwash, and reseal boards at least once a year.

Cedar Environmental Impacts

For the environmentally conscious, Cedar may be a good choice. Cedar is not listed in the CITES Appendices and is reported by the IUCN as being a species of least concern. Cedar is not generally treated with environmentally harmful chemicals and is 100% recyclable.

As far as sustainability and reusability, Cedar and Ipe are very similar. Ipe is known for its ability to be repurposed after being used as decking, but this is not generally the case with Cedar Decking. After Cedar has been used as decking, it is not usually useful as reclaimed lumber.

Cost of Cedar Decking

The cost of Cedar can vary based on your location in the United States. Basic cedar decking, which usually has visible knots and a rough surface, can cost around $4.75 per linear foot. Compare that to Ipe decking at $3.20 per linear foot.

Even the lowest grade Cedar, which does not work well for decking, can be as much as $3.89 PLF. Recent import taxes on Canadian lumber has also increased the cost of Western Cedar. Availability may be the most significant advantage to Cedar Decking, but not the price.

In conclusion, Cedar is a softwood, not ideal for long-life decking material. It scratches, dents and pits easily. It does have some insect resistance, but not as effective as Ipe. The cost of decking-grade Cedar is typically higher than Ipe. Overall, it may have been reasonable to use Cedar as decking in decades past but is no longer a leading choice for decking. Ipe will last longer and cost less.

Ipe Decking Vs Cumaru Decking

Cumaru is a Brazilian Hardwood, very similar to Ipe. Cumaru has been used interchangeably with Ipe for many years and provides nearly all the benefits as Ipe, at a lower cost.

Ipe vs Camaru

Cumaru Color and Appearance

There are two common variations of Cumaru; Cumaru Rosa and Cumaru Champaghe (champagne). Cumaru Champaghe has more greens and yellows and is less desirable. We will focus on Cumaru Rosa. Cumaru ranges from reddish-brown to deep red color with a tight, even, interlocked grain. Over time, the red ‘flattens’ out to a medium brown.

Cumaru’s appearance differs from Ipe in a few crucial ways. The grain pattern of Ipe often features cathedral arches, with black striping intermittent. Cumaru, instead, features ‘swirly’ or ‘wavy’ grain patterns and rarely presents black striping.

Cumaru is also substantially more consistent in color, from board to board. There is still some variety, but not as much as Ipe typically presents. Finally, small light-colored striations can sometimes be found in Ipe, but is almost always present in Cumaru. These tiny lines give Cumaru character and beauty that cannot be found in other materials.

Strength and Durability

Cumaru and Ipe are nearly identical in their strength and durability. Ipe has a Janka Hardness of about 3680. In comparison, Cumaru earns up to 3540, only 2% less than Ipe. This marginal decrease in hardness is insignificant. Cumaru is just as strong and durable as Ipe. The main differences between the two are aesthetic and cost

Cumaru Environmental Impacts

Just like Ipe, Cumaru is not listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. It could be noted that Cumaru has a slightly faster maturation rate than Ipe, which gives Cumaru a slight upper hand in this category. Both species are 100% natural, biodegradable, reusable, sustainable, and recyclable.

Cost of Cumaru Decking

Premium grade Cumaru Decking can typically be purchased around $2.30-3.10 PLF in the 1×6 dimension. Compare that to Ipe at $3.20-4.10. Cumaru decking has a better price point than nearly every comparable composite and plastic decking option at about 30% less than Ipe.

You may not find the dimensional lumber in Cumaru, but Ipe is the preferred material for dimensional lumber (4×4’s, 2×4’s, 2×6’s, etc.) In a short time, Ipe and Cumaru are nearly indistinguishable from the common eye.

In conclusion, Cumaru is a fantastic, decking option. It checks all the boxes; natural beauty, longevity, durability, cost-effectiveness, and low maintenance. Don’t be put off by the initial red or amber hues in this species, and they flatten out to a medium brown with exposure to sunlight.

Ipe Decking Vs Garapa Decking

You might not have heard of Garapa, but it is an amazing Brazilian Hardwood species that should not be overlooked as an effective decking material.

Ipe vs Garapa

Garapa Color and Appearance

arapa is also known as Brazilian Oak. It has a lemon-yellow color that becomes light brown or honey-colored with age. The color of Garapa is very consistent, from board to board. The grain pattern is generally straight or slightly wavy and ribbon-like.

Like Ipe, Garapa is slightly chatoyant. You should expect to see cathedral arches with black accent stripes in Ipe. Not so, with Garapa. These boards have less character as new boards and develop accentuated grain patterns and a darker color, with age.

Garapa Strength and Durability

While Garapa is a Brazilian Hardwood, like Ipe, it is not nearly as hard as Ipe, but it is much harder than domestic hardwoods. Garapa earns a Janka Hardness of about 1600. Other decking lumber, like Cedar and Redwood, earn 350 and 450, respectively. Even Oak, which is considered a very durable domestic hardwood, only earns about 1200 in hardness.

That said, Garapa is the hardest and most durable decking material aside from the other Brazilian Hardwood Species. It also provides the other benefits that accompany Brazilian Hardwoods like superior fire, insect, mold, and rot resistance and the ability to be refinished, almost indefinitely.

While Ipe and Cumaru are expected to last up to 60-80 years or more, Garapa has an expectancy of 30-40 years, depending on weather conditions.

Garapa Environmental Impacts

Similar to the other Brazilian Hardwood species, Garapa is not listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Garapa matures more quickly than Ipe and Cumaru, which means Garapa may have the upper hand over Ipe and Cumaru.

However, Garapa may not be as reusable as Ipe and Cumaru after their use as decking. It is still 100% natural, biodegradable, and recyclable, unlike composite options.

Cost of Garapa

You should expect to pay around $2.20- 3.00 PLF of Garapa. This is significantly less than Ipe and about the same as Cumaru. Garapa will beat prices of nearly all types of composite and plastic decking options and, with the ability to be refinished numerous times, will certainly outlive the other options. Pressure-treated lumber would be one of the only options that would beat Garapa’s cost, but pressure-treated lumber is not known for its longevity or beauty.

In conclusion, Garapa is a fantastic decking option by all measures. It is one of the very few options of Brazilian Hardwoods that offers a consistent blonde color. It is not as hard as Ipe or Cumaru, which is a detriment to its longevity (about 30-40 years, depending on conditions) but certainly lends to its advantage regarding workability.

Ipe Vs Tigerwood

Tigerwood is an amazing decking material that provides all the benefits of Brazilian Hardwoods with a unique character.

Ipe vs Tigerwood

Tigerwood Color and Appearance

Tigerwood is named for its characteristic dark brown tiger-like stripes on a honey, wheat, or amber background. The high contrast of the dark stripes on the lighter background provides character not found in any other commercially available lumber.

Typically, striping will be present in 30-40% of the coverage. This means, some boards will have a high degree of striping, others will not. The light, wheat-colored background typically deepens to a red, amber, or orange color. This species performs better, aesthetically, with minimal to moderate sun exposure.

In high sun-exposed areas, the background of the boards can turn a darker color, which reduces the contrast and visibility of the stripes. Great applications for Tigerwood include RainScreen Siding, Porch Decking, Flooring, Soffits, and shaded decks. Minimal maintenance is required, with Brazilian Hardwoods, to maintain the colors.

Tigerwood Strength and Durability

Tigerwood is a tough and durable construction material. With a Janka Hardness of up to 2170, Tigerwood is nearly twice as hard as domestic Oak and up to six times harder than Cedar and Redwood. It is very resistant to pitting/scratching, insects, fire, mold, and rot. However, excessive moisture under a tigerwood deck can lead to mold and decreased longevity.

Tigerwood Environmental Impacts

Similar to other Brazilian Hardwoods, like Ipe, Tigerwood is no listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. It has a similar maturity rate to Garapa and less than that of Ipe. Tigerwood may not be as useful as Ipe and Cumaru for reusability. It is 100% natural, recyclable, and biodegradable.

Cost of Tigerwood

Tigerwood is less expensive than Ipe and very close to Garapa. Tigerwood Decking can often be purchased between $2-3 PLF. This is lower than composite, plastic, or other domestic decking materials. Tigerwood can also be refinished indefinitely, which lends to its value.

In conclusion, Tigerwood is a great decking choice for the right applications. It is ideal for minimal to moderate sun exposure. Very hard, durable, high resistance to mold, rot, insect attack, and fire, Tigerwood compares to Ipe in longevity. At a lower cost than Ipe and the plastic/composite options, Tigerwood offers natural beauty and unique character that will perform for decades.

Notable Mentions

Although these are two less frequently used decking options, they both are great alternatives to Ipe decking.

Ipe vs Purpleheart

Purpleheart is a fantastic decking material that costs almost as little as pressure-treated Pine and will outlast it many times over. Purpleheart is named for its vibrant purple, pink, and magenta hues it displays before oxidation and UV exposure. The magenta colors flatten to a medium brown in a very short time, with exposure to UV.

On a typical Purpleheart deck, the purples turn to browns in a matter of days or weeks. Areas that are 100% shaded will take longer to transition from purple to brown. The sap of Purpleheart will usually surface in 2-4 weeks and will flake off naturally in the following 2-3 weeks. Before the sap dries and flakes away, the sap can be tacky to the touch. Once it dries, Purpleheart is very smooth.

Often, Purpleheart is even smoother than its more popular cousin, Ipe. This natural process of the sap surfacing and drying leaves behind elongated and pronounced grain patterns that typically remain for the life of the boards. It boasts a hardness rating of up to 2500, which is comparable to both Ipe and Cumaru. Purpleheart is also known for its quick maturation rate as a tree and its exceptional resistance to insect attack, rot, mold, and fire.

ipe vs purpleheart

Ipe vs Massaranduba

Massaranduba is another decking option you may not have heard of. Massaranduba is very similar to Ipe in Janka Hardness. The main difference is that Massaranduba is significantly more consistent in color, from board to board, than Ipe.

It typically begins as a medium brick color and can either turn to silver or maintain a medium brown, with periodic oiling. Massaranduba usually develops grain character over time, showing darker swirls on the face of the boards. Brazilian Hardwoods, like Massaranduba, are all 100% natural, recyclable, and biodegradable.

Ipe vs Massaranduba

So What Is Our Overall Top Recommendation? Ipe!

To conclude, there are many choices for resurfacing or building a new deck. Some provide uniformity and warranties and lack durability and natural beauty. Others, like Brazilian Hardwoods, offer natural beauty and durability without the opportunity for warranties.

Overall, Ipe outperforms nearly all of the composite and plastic options. Cumaru, Garapa, Tigerwood, Purpleheart, and Massaranduba are all close seconds to Ipe. For more information on Brazilian Hardwoods like Ipe, check out our hardwood decking page to dive deeper into the Brazilian wood for decking.


10 Ipe problems


It’s time to layout the 10 common consumer complaints and concerns about Ipe Decking. What are the fixes? Which ones are myths? And how to determine if Ipe is right for your deck project? This article will put the kibosh on all unanswered concerns and speculation. Read on to learn the truth about these common Ipe Decking problems.

1 . Ipe Is Too Hard

Ipe is, undoubtedly, one of the hardest woods in the world. There are harder species of wood, but not many. A Janka Hardness scale is used to measure and compare materials based on their hardness. Most reliable sources place Ipe in the top 10 of hardest woods. Of the top 10, Ipe is one of only three or four that are commercially available.

To put Ipe’s hardness in perspective, Ipe earns a Janka Rating of about 3,684. Compare that to White Oak, a domestic hardwood known for its hardness, at about 1200. Hardness is important to a materials longevity and durability. The benefits of being one of the hardest woods in the world are numerous. A high hardness rating lends to incredible longevity, durability and resistance to insects, fire, moisture penetration, mold and rot.

But, wait! Doesn’t Ipe’s hardness negatively affect its workability? Won’t I need special blades to cut it? Isn’t it too strong to straighten curves in the boards? The short answer; no, no, and no. But there are some tips that can make working with Ipe much easier,

  • Special blades are not required to cut through Ipe. Standard chop saw blades work just fine on Ipe. However, it is highly recommended to use blades with carbide tips. In our experience, the number of teeth or the configuration of teeth, do not matter. Of course, using a jig saw or Sawzall will require a bit more effort, but these tools aren’t often used on decking projects. Contractors that use Ipe regularly know that sawing through harder wood simply takes longer.
  • Ipe is a product of nature. Like all natural woods, not every board can be perfectly straight. The solution is a tool called, the Bowrench. Made by Cepco tool company, most suppliers of Ipe are happy to sell you this tool for around $60-70. Many contractors that use Ipe, own  Bowrenches. This tool grabs the joist and uses leverage to straighten the boards so they can be fastened easily. It’s also very effective with T&G applications. Be sure to purchase the extension if your deck is framed with double joists.

Best Ipe Decking Supplier

  • Screwing into Ipe can also be very difficult, if not using the correct tools. Ipe is too hard to drill a stainless steel screw directly into. For this reason, predrilling is an absolute must if you are planning to face screw the boards. Smart-Bit, by Starborn, is a pre-drilling and countersinking tool that will make face screwing Ipe a Breeze. Most Ipe suppliers will provide these, by default. If they don’t, ask about it.
Eco Friendly Ipe Decking

2 . The Boards are Different Colors

Some customers are unsure what to expect from Ipe, in terms of color. Manufactured decking boards, like plastics and composites, are not only consistent, they are EXACTLY the same. Real, Natural Wood, like Ipe, provides a variety of different colors, from light olive browns, to darker chocolate browns. This color variation is exactly what makes Ipe very desirable. It makes the deck look natural and gives it abundant character. Customers should also expect to find cathedral arches, interlocked grain patterns, and intermittent black striping. All of these features give Ipe it’s characteristic beauty. Here are some tips regarding color expectations,

  • Most suppliers are happy to send free samples. Ask for samples that vary in color.
  • Be sure that the Ipe is Premium Grade. Non-premium grade Ipe can have bug holes, knots and sapwood. Also, non-premium grade Ipe often varies in dimensions which makes them very difficult to use.
  • Look at the suppliers Gallery. This should give you a good idea of what to expect from that supplier.
  • Board color variation makes board replacement possible. Read more about this in problem number 5.

Other Brazilian Hardwood Species offer different colors and more consistency. Consider Garapa and Massaranduba for consistency in color.

Green Friendly Ipe Decking

3 . Ipe and Acclimation

Acclimation is the process of becoming accustomed to a new climate or new conditions. This is an oft overlooked or improperly addressed process for Ipe Decking installation. It applies to nearly all wood decking and flooring. If you are ordering Ipe, locally, this section probably doesn’t apply to you. But let’s say you live in Colorado and you ordered Ipe from Brazilian Wood Depot, in Atlanta GA. You will absolutely want to take heed of these simple tips,

  • As usual, make sure you are purchasing Premium Grade Ipe. Anything less can result in lower performance.
  • After receiving your shipment, leave the boards on the jobsite, outdoors for 10-14 days until the moisture level remains constant.
  • If the boards will not be installed for a prolonged period of time, be sure to take a couple extra precautions;
    1.  Place spacers in between the rows to allow air movement between the boards. Suppliers can often provide these upon request.
    2. Cover the materials, loosely, with plastic or tarp. Do NOT enclose the plastic such that it traps the air inside. Air should be able to move freely, in and out.

Ask the supplier for Storage and Handling tips.

4 . Ipe Requires Too Much Maintenance

Technically, Ipe doesn’t require any maintenance whatsoever. Ipe maintenance is only required to maintain the natural brown colors. Without maintaining an annual oil regimen, the boards will turn a beautiful silvery-grey. This will not affect the structural integrity, longevity, or durability of the wood. It’s all a matter of appearance. In fact, many customers prefer to let their Ipe go grey. The best part is, you can always bring them back to their original brown colors.

The general rule of thumb to maintain Ipe’s beautiful brown colors is an annual application of a UV Oil, with Messmer’s UV Plus, and periodic cleaning depending on conditions. Some customers are put off by the maintenance associated with Ipe. What they may fail to realize is that, the ability to refinish Ipe decks actually makes it a much more desirable decking material. Plastic and Composite alternatives fade overtime and cannot be brought back to the original conditions. Here are a few tips regarding oiling and maintenance,

  • Don’t oil the boards before installation. It’s unnecessary and you may want to bump some spots with a sander which will require you to reoil.
  • Don’t oil the bottom of the boards unless you plan on seeing them from below. Many customers ask if they need to oil the bottom. The answer is, no. Again, oil is only meant to protect against UV and maintain the color.
  • Messmer’s UV Plus Natural is the best oil to use on Ipe. There are other products that will suffice, but Messmer’s is tried and true in performance and aesthetic.
  • Messmer’s also makes a very effective Deck Cleaner and Brightener. You can also find Behr, All-in-One Wood Cleaner and Flood Deck cleaner at the big box hardware stores.
  • For more tips on cleaning and oiling Ipe decks, visit or watch the video below.
Maintenance for Ipe Decking

5 . Damaged Board Replacement

This aspect of choosing a decking material is probably the most often overlooked. While Ipe is the most durable material decking option, they can still get damaged. The two most common ways decking boards get damaged is by spilling the hot contents of a grill or firepit and scratches from heavy metal furniture. Both of these can be remedied by replacing the boards. With Ipe, board replacement is an easy, worry free solution. Ipe is one of the only decking options that provides the ability to replace boards.

Why can’t I replace composite or plastic decking boards? These boards fade over time and cannot be refinished. That means, when you replace a composite/plastic board, the old boards won’t ever match the new ones. Ipe naturally varies in color, so the new ones will blend in nicely with the old ones. Sun exposure will also help the new boards match the old ones. Here are some things to keep in mind when considering board replacement,

  • The most common dimensions of Ipe Decking are 1×6 and 5/4×6. Less common dimensions like, 1×6+ can be more difficult to replace if they become damaged. Play it safe with the more common profiles.

Consider the fastening method. Some clip designs make it difficult or impossible to access the heads of the screws. Also, plugging an entire deck can make replacing damaged boards more difficult. Learn about different fasteners and their which one is best for your project.

6 . Ipe Wood Can Cup

There’s no denying that Ipe wood can cup. Cupping is the shape a wood board takes on where one side of the board is convex and the opposite side is concave. Typically, with decking, the top/face of the board dips in the center and the sides rise. It is important to understand why boards cup.

Cupping is always a result of improper ventilation and inadequate moisture equalization. When moisture becomes trapped underneath decking boards and the face of the boards dry, it creates a higher moisture content under the boards than above the boards. This causes the bottom to expand and the top to contract and cup. To prevent this, you’ll want to take these simple precautions,

  • Allow space above the ground and beneath the deck. This will allow air to flow all both sides of the board.
  • If moisture is not properly draining on the ground under the deck, consider grading the soil and using a waterproof membrane to prevent moisture penetration into the soil.
  • Be sure to always leave 1/8th inch gap between the boards. This ensures free air flow on all four sides of the board.
  • Don’t close in the sides of the deck, where possible. Leaving the understructure open will allow more airflow.
  • Decking boards should never be installed directly on subfloor, concrete, soil or any flat, nonporous surface.

Follow the supplier’s installation guidelines.

Atlanta Ipe Decking Supplier

What if the conditions are not suitable to achieve suitable airflow and moisture equalization? Some common examples might include, covering a concrete pad without a frame system, a rooftop deck with waterproof membrane, or areas that have a maximum elevation requirement may not allow for suitable airflow. Ipe Deck Tiles can be a perfect solution for those condition. Deck Tiles are manufactured tiles made up of 7-8 smaller Ipe boards. These boards are very resistant to cupping and are a great solution for these types of conditions.

Supplier for Ipe Decking

7 . Drying and Checking

Ipe Decking dries and contracts, leaving tiny cracks in the face or at the ends of the boards. These tiny cracks are known as checks. Face checking is a very normal and is very difficult to see. It does not affect the durability, longevity or water-resistant benefits. This checking goes away again once the boards gain moisture and expand. The checking that can be more problematic is called End Checking. End checking occurs at the end of board cuts where moisture can escape more easily. The solution is simple,

  • Use End Wax. Most legitimate suppliers of Ipe Decking will include End Wax, by default. If you notice your quote is missing wax, you should ask about it. If you have Ipe, but no wax, you use Anchorseal Wax Emulsion. Simply apply the wax to the ends of boards prior to installation.

8 . Ipe is Too Expensive

The term Brazilian Hardwoods just sounds expensive. Fortunately, as far as reasonable decking options go, it really isn’t. Many customers feel that going with plastic or composite decking is more cost effective than Ipe. While this can be the case, especially with the lowest grades of manufactured decking, it usually isn’t.

  • Premium Grade Ipe Decking usually costs between $3.20 and 4.50 per lineal foot.
  • Ipe and the Mid-Grade Composites are usually about the same price
  • The High-End composites, like Enhance Natural by Trex, are significantly more expensive than Ipe.
  • Plastic decking, like Azek, is up to twice as much as Ipe.
  • Pressure treated is much cheaper than Ipe, but will last about one quarter of the time. Taking longevity and labor into account, even pressure treated lumber is more expensive than Ipe.

There are also Ipe alternatives that also grow in Brazil and cost less than Ipe. These other species like Cumaru, Tigerwood, Garapa, Purpleheart and Massaranduba are just a beautiful and durable as Ipe.

9 . Ipe is Difficult to Find

This can absolutely be true, especially locally. Depending on where you are in the United States or Canada, Ipe can be difficult or impossible to find, nearby. This has a fairly easy fix, 

  • Find a reliable source online that will crate and ship it to your jobsite. Always require that your decking is crated. Proper crating will prevent damage by shipping couriers.
  • Use Google Maps to help your decision. Find the address of the prospective supplier and look at the satellite photo of the address. Is this a lumber yard and direct importer or is it an off building or home of a broker? Buy direct from the importers. You’ll get better product, support and pricing.

Also, suppliers often run out during Brazil’s wet season. Harvesting Ipe is limited to about 5 months of the year. Torrential rains prevent loggers from working in the other seven months. This means suppliers must plan ahead, the best they can, to prepare inventory for the wet season. Some are effective in doing so, others run out for prolonged periods of time.

  • Find a supplier that doesn’t run out. This will help if you require fill-ins or replacements.
Cost of Ipe Decking

10 . Ipe is not Environmentally Conscious

Ipe is one of several Brazilian Hardwoods used for decking, siding and flooring. Of course, much of Brazil is covered in natural rain forests. It’s not unusual for environmentally minded consumers to be put off by the idea that purchasing Ipe will harm our planet’s natural rain forests. Fortunately for everyone, that isn’t the case.

  • Ipe is an extremely common tree. It is found from the southern tip of South America to northern Mexico and in the Caribbean Islands.
  • There is Legal Ipe and Illegal Ipe. When you purchase legal Ipe, it is a small contribution against lumber poachers.
  • Most legally and responsibly harvested Ipe is sourced from the regions Para and Mato Grasso, Brazil.
  • According to Ricardo Russo, Brazilian World Wildlife Fund, Ipe and the Lumber industry of Brazil is essential to the people of the Amazon. It is one of the few, low-carbon emitting industries.
  • Agriculture, Cattle and Plantation Farms are the largest contributors to deforestation. Brazil’s lumber industry is one of the only commodity industries that increases the value of naturally forested lands. That’s because Ipe is selectively sourced, not clear-cut.
  • Oversight and enforcement against illegally sourced Ipe have expanded greatly, in recent decades.
  • Always buy Ipe from suppliers who buy directly from Brazil. This will highly decrease the chance that you are supporting illegal supply chains.
  • Ipe has no chemicals, is 100% recyclable, reusable, and biodegradable. In comparison, composites are not biodegradable or recyclable which contributes to the plastic pollution, worldwide.
Ipe Decking Price

Truth is, as long as you’re purchasing responsibly sourced Ipe, you’re supporting essential, low-carbon emitting jobs in the Amazon and working against illegal timber poachers. Legal Ipe loggers care deeply about the sustainability of Ipe and the surrounding forests. They are also required to follow state specified re-growth regulations. When you buy, legally, you’re supporting these positive attributes. When the demand for legal Ipe falls, illegal log poaching increases.

  • This article goes into great detail about how Ipe is sourced, how to find a responsible supplier, and the many advancements in enforcement and sustainability surrounding Ipe harvesting.

In conclusion, Ipe is a great choice for decking. The upfront costs are similar to other options, but it’s longevity and durability makes the long term costs far lower than anything else.

The maintenance for Ipe Decking can either be low or none. Annual oiling will maintain the brown colors otherwise, they’ll turn a beautiful silvery grey and still retain their durability.

Responsibly sourced Ipe helps maintain low-carbon emitting jobs in the Amazon and represents the only 100% natural, biodegradable, recyclable, chemical free and reusable decking materials.