Ipe Decking versus Douglas Fir Decking

Posted by Chris Nolan on Wed, Aug 28, 2019 @ 07:08 AM

Ipe hardwood decking and Douglas fir decking are two all-natural wood decking options for decking and porch flooring. Douglas fir is a softwood species and has been used often as a porch flooring material (painted to protect it) for covered and partially covered porch areas.  I love the look of Douglas fir but I was shocked to learn that some people are using fir as a decking material for uncovered decks. It doesn’t make sense to me to use this material fully exposed outdoors for a number of reasons; fir decking must be maintained annually to prevent it from rotting, any cost savings are negated very quickly because you would need to use a clear vertical grain grade (which is more costly) and there are many better decking material options to choose from.

Using fir decking for porch flooring? No argument here. Using Douglas fir as an exposed decking material? In my opinion, you’re asking for trouble and you will probably be disappointed with the results in a fairly short period of time. Ipe decking, on the other hand, can be used nearly anywhere outdoors with very little concern about its performance and durability.

douglas fir decking boards painted Ipe decking is the ultimate outdoor wood

Douglas Fir softwood decking (painted)    

Ipe hardwood decking


Ipe decking outlasts and outperforms fir decking in every measurable criteria including; strength, stability, durability, density, hardness, scratch resistance and span capacity.  Additionally, Ipe decking has a Class A fire rating and has natural resistance to termites, decay and slipping without any chemicals or additives. The only area where fir decking seems to have a comparative edge over Ipe decking is in the initial price of the decking. However, life cycle cost analyses conclude that Ipe decking is a lower cost long lasting decking option - by a significant amount.


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From an appearance perspective, Ipe decking ranges from light brown to dark brown and has magnificent figuring and exotic graining variation. If maintaining the initial color of the Ipe decking is your goal, putting a coat of oil finish on it periodically will show the rich graining and colors of the Ipe hardwood. If you would like to let your high density hardwood decking ‘silver out’ over time, it will not affect the performance or the incredible lifetime of this amazing hardwood decking material. If you plan to use Douglas fir as a decking material outdoors, it really needs to be painted or protected if you expect to get a decent usable lifetime from your deck.  If you paint the Douglas fir, you lose the ability to see the beauty of the wood itself.



We conducted a 15 year field test to assess the performance of Ipe decking, Fir decking, and other common decking materials when exposed to the elements. See how they performed.




For additional information about Ipe decking and other decking material options, please follow any of the links below:

Ipe Hardwood Decking

Ipe Decking compared to other Wood Decking materials

Mechanical Properties of Ipe Decking and Douglas Fir

Decking Material Price Comparisons

Care and Maintenance Options for Ipe Decking


Topics: Ipe Decking