Ipe Decking Alternatives: What is Jatoba Decking?

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Jatoba is a high-density hardwood that works extremely well as an exterior decking material. Because of its rosy colors, you may hear Jatoba decking referred to as Brazilian Cherry. Jatoba is as beautiful as cherry wood, but is so hard, strong, and durable, it makes an excellent real wood decking material.

FSC Jatoba hardwood decking and benches at Pier 17 New York City

FSC® Certified Jatoba hardwood decking on Pier 17 New York City


What is Jatoba Hardwood?

Jatoba, pronounced ZHA’-toe-Bah, is a high-density tropical hardwood that grows throughout Central and South America. The Scientific name for Jatoba is Hymenaea courbaril. Because of its beautiful colors and graining, and exceptional hardness, Jatoba has been used for interior wood flooring for decades. Because of its rot resistance, insect resistance and durability, Jatoba hardwood is an excellent choice for an exterior decking, siding or lumber option.



Jatoba Hardwood Decking is Beautiful

Jatoba has lovely pink to salmon to cherry-colored tones. When it is exposed to UV rays, Jatoba darkens to richer reddish-brown tones quickly. The grain of Jatoba wood is medium to coarse and often shows some darker brown tropical streaking.

Jatoba decking color and grain variations typical

Typical grain and color variations of Jatoba decking from pinks to cherry reds

A coating of a UV inhibiting oil based sealer, such as Penofin Hardwood Formula, or a similar product, is an excellent way to protect your Jatoba decking while it seasons in place, especially initially.  If you wish to keep this 'like new wood' appearance, you can recoat your decking whenever you wish. 


For a low maintenance decking option, you can allow your Jatoba decking to naturally weather to a silvery gray patina over time.  The photo below shows Jatoba decking after 6 years on a waterfront deck project in New York. 

Jatoba hardwood decking and benches after 6 years of waethering

Jatoba hardwood decking naturally weathering after 6 years

For additional information about the low maintenance hardwood decking option,

Download the "How Exterior Hardwoods Weather" eBook.

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Jatoba Hardwood Decking has Incredible Strength, Hardness, and Durability

Jatoba decking is gorgeous, but it isn’t just a pretty face for your deck. Jatoba decking is a very tough decking material option. Ipe wood decking may be the standard to which all other decking is compared, but Jatoba can certainly hold its own. Jatoba hardwood decking compares very well to Ipe hardwood in many measurable ways.

Here is some research and test data compiled from the USDA Forest Product Laboratory comparing Jatoba hardwood to Ipe hardwood.

Mechanical Properties of Jatoba hardwood compared to Ipe hardwood

So, what does all this testing mean? For starters, it gives you an excellent idea of how much punishment your deck is going to be able to withstand.  Jatoba is exceptionally hard, very strong, crush resistant, long lasting and naturally beautiful.  


Jatoba Decking Janka Hardness

The Janka Hardness test was adopted by wood flooring manufacturers to cut down on customer complaints. The Janka hardness test measures how much weight it will take to embed a .44” steel ball into a wood board. It is known as the ‘high heel test’ because that’s exactly the type of punishment the flooring manufacturers sought to avoid. Red oak flooring is hard and tough and can pass the high heel test.

Well, Jatoba hardness is twice that of red oak, so that’s exceptional. Feel free to don your favorite pair of high heel pumps and dance the night away on your Jatoba deck.

Jatoba hardwood decking and railings at Pier 17


Jatoba Decking is Durable

Durability is a measure of how long a wood will last in an exterior environment. Durability is based on the wood’s resistance to mold, fungal decay, and insect resistance. The USDA Forest Product Laboratory has rated Jatoba very durable for both resistance to rot and resistance to insects. This means that Jatoba is expected to last for over 25 years. As an added level of assurance, Mataverde Jatoba decking is covered under the Mataverde 25 Year Limited Warranty.


Choosing the right decking for your back yard deck or commercial project is an important decision. The decking material is the face of your deck for all who visit to see. Will your deck age beautifully? How well will your decking perform? Choose your decking wisely and have some fun.

Learn more about the pros and cons of all the most popular decking material options.


The Ultimate Guide to Selecting The Right Decking DOWNLOAD FREE NOW

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