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.

Screenshot of Brazilian Wood Depot Homepage

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.

Section of an Ipe Deck

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.

Tigerwood Deck

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.

Barrett Overuture with 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.