Can someone help me tell the difference between ipe and cumaru

by Matt
(Westchester)

I am a homeowner who contracted a guy to do build a 16x40 foot deck using ipe decking. The deck is almost done but the ipe doesn't look like what was described to me so i did a little digging on my own to learn about decking and i think the contractor used Cumaru decking instead.

I'm not upset with the quality because it seems to be almost identical and the workmanship seems good but the price difference is what I am worried about. How can I tell if ipe was actually used or if the contractor pocketed 1/3rd of my money and went with the cheaper option cumaru.

Please help, the job is almost done and i want to have all of my facts in order before i approach him about weather he used ipe or cumaru.

Editor's Comments


Wow, this is a great question and I am surprised we have not had more people ask the same thing. I think if is possible that you could easily be unable to tell the difference visually from cumaru to ipe.

I have held both samples in my hand the and weight and hardness and appearance is almost identical but as you correctly point out, the cost for ipe is significantly more. A 1x4 ipe board may cost $2.50 a foot whereas the identical cumaru board may cost lesst than $2. So what do you do?

Since it is almost impossible to categorically identify ipe from cumaru as this article describes, the only other way I would recommend is to demand proof of receipt of the material from the supplier.

Every single legitimate lumber company will be selling tropical lumber which has a chain of custody record particularly if the source mill is part of the FSC program. This actually emphasizes why the FSC program was started and although there have been found ways that it is defeated, the principle is sound and the spirit and intent is noble.

So ask your builder to prove that it is ipe and not cumaru. He should comply with a smile on his face. If you get push back your spider senses should be tingling. That is your first indicator that you have been deceived.

I thank you for sharing your question and I do hope that many other visitors here at DecksGo with similar concerns read this article.

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