Hardwood Deck Material Comparison

Ipe and Cumaru - Not Your Only Options for Hardwood Decking

Cumaru is beautiful reddish brown

Hardwood deck material is fairly new concept in North America. Less so in other parts of the world where exotic hardwoods are native.

Even so, Ipe and Cumaru were the first two hardwood species to gain interest in the decking market..

But over the last tens years or so there has been an explosion of interest in many other hardwoods for building decks.

Other Species Can Offer Similar Performance At Lower Cost

While Ipe is the gold standard for outdoor decking it's also are the most expensive. But maybe you don't need decking to last 100 years. Well, some of these other species are easily good for 25 years, untreated and cost much less!

Let's take a tour of all the hardwood deck material to choose from.

Ipe (Ironwood)

Natural Color
Density lbs/ft3
Janka Hardness (lbs force)
Movement
Maintenance
 

Ipe is a nice olivey brown variegated color

Red Brown with Variegated Olive Tones
73
3680
Very Low
Low to None
Comments:

Everything about this wood is extreme. Hardness. Workability. Durability. Lifespan. And cost. It's grown in South America so please be sure to only buy it from reputable companies that have sustainable harvesting and re-planting. Advantage Lumber is one such reputable company.

Some say it will last 100 years on a deck. We know for sure that some of the public board walks near New Jersey and New York have had it in service for decades!

It's very insect and decay resistant because of its hardness but also the chemicals in the wood are not attractive to bugs and bacteria. Cutting and drilling require carbide blades and many of them.

No need to stain or seal but if you do there are certain stains to use given it's reduced porosity. As low maintenance as you can get. And better than composite materials.

It is said to be heavier than water and it truly your best fire resistant or possibly fire proof decking wood. Supposed Class A fire rating. Same as concrete!

It is "supposed" because that is the result one private company obtained when they tested it against ASTM E-84. Either way you can say safely this is one heck of a wood.

Cumaru (Brazilian Teak)

Natural Color
Density lbs/ft3
Janka Hardness (lbs force)
Movement
Maintenance
 

Cumaru is a bit lighter color than Ipe but practically as hard

Reddish Brown to Light Golden Brown
66
3540
Very Low
Low to None
Comments:

Sometimes hard to tell apart from Ipe except it is usually a bit lighter brown in color. It is very hard and on par with Ipe. It has very tight grain and is very decay resistant. Without any stain is can last 25 years. And its so dense it does not easily take stains or sealers anyway because they don't soak in easily.

But it is hard on saw blades and drill bits. So carbide tips all the way and maybe a sharpening job afterwords

Very smooth and pleasant to walk on and look at. So for a minor reduction in lifespan you usually pay about 1/4 less than Ipe or the top composite deck material. To keep the color nice you just need a good UV inhibiting finish.

Tigerwood

Natural Color
Density lbs/ft3
Janka Hardness (lbs force)
Movement
Maintenance
 

Tigerwood has an unmistakeble variegated coloring

Lighter Brown/Gold with Dark Striping
40
1850-2000
Very Low
Low to None
Comments:

This wood is gaining popularity because it also lasts 25+ years without preservatives and has a distinctive variegated striped grain pattern. It's not quite as dense or hard as Ipe and Cumaru but not far off. This density and tight grain make it last so long. Just like the other great hardwood deck material.

Sharp blades and pre-drilling is required. It's less expensive than Ipe and yet lasts almost as long but has such a unique appearance. All you need is a UV deck finish to maintain the coloring.

Garapa (Brazilian Ash)

Natural Color
Density lbs/ft3
Janka Hardness (lbs force)
Movement
Maintenance
 

Garapa is also called Brazilian Ash

Yellowish
Brown with Gold
54
1210
Low
Low to None
Comments:

This is another very hard and durable exotic hardwood deck material from South America. It can easily last 25 years without preservatives and maybe some UV protectant finish if you wish to maintain it golden color. Otherwise it will weather to a nice silver gray color.

It's hard on saw blades and pre-drilling is required for fasteners. It's less expensive than Ipe and yet lasts almost as long. It also has a fire rating that is the same as concrete. The bugs and insects can't find a home in this wood.

So when you are comparing many of these hardwoods you will see they all last so long. Your choice almost comes down to the color and look of the wood.

Kayu Batu

Natural Color
Density lbs/ft3
Janka Hardness
Movement
Maintenance
 

Kayu is a long last wood

Light Brown with Yellowy Brown
54-61
1800 Janka Scale
Low
Low to None
Comments:

This is also from the Shorea species and is typically guaranteed for 25 years without any preservatives. It's also one of the lower priced hardwoods and compares closely to high grade cedar and composite both of which do not last as long. Just finish with a UV inhibitor finish if you want the color to remain.

It's very hard and is tough on saw blades because it is so hard but this also gives it great decay and insect resistance. But the wood can crack and so you have to pre-drill all your fastener holes.

Bottom line is it is a nice looking, very durable and more affordable hardwood deck material. In fact I think this the best decking material out there for price and long life.

Meranti

(Dark Red)

Natural Color
Density lbs/ft3
Janka Hardness (lbs force)
Movement
Maintenance
 

Meranti (mahogany) is pale reddy brown in color

Pale Reddy Brown
40
780
Low to Moderate
Frequent
Comments:

Meranti covers a number of similar species of Shorea trees most notably from the Phillipines. There is dark red, light red, yellow and white. It is moderately hard but requires sharp blades or a fine furry surface is left behind.

It's not known as the best outdoor wood like the harder species and is not commonly used as decking. It is more commonly used in furniture that can be finished and sealed.

There you have it. A summary of the most common hardwood deck material on the market today.

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Try One of The Soft Woods

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