How Does Ipe Hardwood Decking Compare to Garapa Hardwood?

Posted by Chris Nolan on Fri, Jul 19, 2019 @ 08:07 AM

“We are often asked by architects, builders and homeowners, “Which is better - Ipe wood or Garapa?”  Tough question, but tasty. It’s almost like asking which is the better ice cream, Ben and Jerry’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough or Haagen-Dazs Rocky Road. While they are both incredible in their own right, it ultimately comes down to what is important to you and what you like.”

Garpa pergola and benchesWhen you compare Ipe hardwood to Garapa hardwood there are a lot of measurable performance characteristics you can consider. Hardness? Ipe wins. Lighter color? Garapa wins. Higher density? Ipe wins. Lower initial cost? Garapa wins? Once you get beyond the measurable results, however, you should probably look at what the important characteristics are to you. 


Ipe pergola and benchesFor example, Ipe is harder than Garapa, but how hard is the right hardness for you?  If you plan to drive vehicles over your deck, like they do on the Coney Island boardwalk, Ipe or Cumaru are harder and clearly would be a better material to minimize the wear and tear. If however, you are building a low traffic deck in your backyard or installing wood siding, how much hardness do you need for your project?

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Performance Differences between Ipe and Garapa Wood (and Red Cedar)

Let’s take a look at the performance measurement criteria of each species. (We have added red cedar to help put the comparisons into better perspective for you):

Ipe Hardwood

 Garapa Hardwood

Red Cedar 

Janka hardness is 3,680

Density is 1.04 g/cm³

Fiber strength is 23,360 psi 

Class A fire rating

Highest durability rating

Janka hardness is 1,650

Density is .79 g/cm³

Fiber strength is 18,530 psi 

Class B fire rating

High durability rating 

Janka hardness is 480

Density is .38 g/cm³

Fiber strength is 7,900 psi

Class C fire rating

Moderate durability rating 

Ipe rooftop deckIf you asked me straight up, what’s a better wood, Ipe or Garapa, I would say Ipe. This is because Ipe is stronger, harder and more durable than Garapa. 

But that’s not a fair question to answer without knowing exactly what you might be using the wood for. What if you are using this wood for siding?  How much does the strength and hardness difference between Ipe and Garapa matter to you?  Probably not too much in that case.

You can also see that Ipe is more than twice as hard as Garapa, but Garapa is almost three times harder than red cedar. So, if you are using the wood for a residential deck with little foot traffic how much does this matter to you? A lot? A little? It depends on your project needs.

Garapa hardwood decking has some budget advantages, too. Garapa costs a lot less than Ipe decking. And Garapa is usually the same price or less than higher grades of red cedar.

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Other Differences between Ipe Hardwood and Garapa Wood

Ipe Hardwood

Garapa Hardwood

Color: lots of shades of light brown to dark brown with olive browns

Graining: fairly tight grained with a high amount of striped graining, quarter sawn appearance and tropical figuring


Color: many shades of light yellows to medium amber and bronze tones

Graining: fine grained with a less pronounced, moderate amount of exotic striped graining and tropical figuring


Even though there are major differences in the color and appearance of Ipe and Garapa woods, the similarities far outweigh the differences.  Check out the similarities between these two remarkable wood decking and siding species.

Similarities Between Ipe and Garapa Woods

  • Both species are considered high density hardwoods

  • Both species have a considerably higher hardness and wear rating than any softwood decking species

  • Both species are durable and stable hardwoods well suited for outdoor use

  • Both species show some tropical graining and exotic figuring

  • Both species show significant color variations

  • Both species will darken in appearance as they are exposed to UV rays

  • Both Ipe and Garapa will age naturally to a silver gray patina if allowed to do so.



In summary, there are a fair amount of similarities and differences between the two hardwood decking species. Other than the difference in appearance, the performance characteristics are more a matter of degree rather than major differences. Choosing the species that works best for you and your specific project is your ultimate decision.  We are here to answer any questions you may have along the way.


When making a decision that is likely to affect you for many years, we encourage you to learn as much as you can to guide you on your way.  “The Ultimate Guide to Selecting the Right Decking Material” is an excellent resource that we developed and adapted from our architectural educational courses.  You can download this valuable decking guide free of charge here.


Please visit our website for additional information about Ipe and Garapa woods and other wood decking or wood siding materials you may be considering.

Ipe decking

Garapa decking

Other hardwood decking materials





free pdf download decking care and maintenance guidelines


Topics: Ipe Decking, Garapa Decking