Ipe Decking: What Is the Best Alternative Hardwood Decking?

Written by on

Ipe has been recognized as the best performing hardwood decking material for several decades. Ipe decking is exceptionally hard, ridiculously strong, and is incredibly long-lasting. Ipe wood sets the standard for durable decking materials. With the limited availability and sharp rise in Ipe wood pricing recently, it has caused many people to look at other decking materials. Here are some excellent hardwood decking materials options.

Ipe hardwood deck-1

Ipe decking is strong, hard and beautiful, and sometimes hard to find

If you would like to stay with a durable hardwood decking material, but Ipe wood is either not available, or does not meet your decking material budget, you have options. There are several other high- performance hardwood decking materials to choose from. Machiche, Jatoba, Cumaru and Garapa are all high-density hardwood decking materials and well worth a look.

RELATED: Hardwood Decking Material Options

See how these hardwood decking species compare to Ipe wood. To put things in perspective, let’s start with the scientific facts. Ipe wood is very strong, but so are some of the other hardwood decking material options. Ipe is very durable, and so too are Machiche, Jatoba, Cumaru and Garapa. In fact, Mataverde offers a 25-year limited warranty on all five of these hardwood decking species.

 

Compare Hardwood Decking Materials to Ipe Wood by Performance

The comparison chart below shows the most popular hardwood decking items by their natural characteristics and mechanical properties. All data was compiled from research by the USDA Forest Products Laboratory. You may not be familiar with some of these excellent wood decking species, so we used a common North American hardwood (Red Oak) as a benchmark comparison. 

HARDWOOD DECKING SPECIES MECHANICAL PROPERTIES COMPARISONS

DOWNLOAD HARDWOOD DECKING MATERIAL MECHANICAL PROPERTIES COMPARISON CHART

 

Hardwood Decking Material Options Hardness Comparison

Compare the hardness of Ipe wood decking to other hardwood decking material options. The Janka hardness was created to measure how many pounds of pressure it would take to insert a .444” steel ball into a piece of wood. It is a measure of how hard it is to dent you flooring or decking.

Many of these high-density hardwood decking options compare favorably to Ipe. And all these wood decking options are harder than Red Oak.

Hardwood Species  Janka Hardness (lbs)
Ipe hardwood 3,680
Cumaru hardwood 3,540
Machiche hardwood 2,700
Jatoba hardwood 2,350
Garapa hardwood 1,650
Red Oak (benchmark) 1,220

 

Hardwood Decking Material Density Comparison

Density is an excellent measure of how moisture resistant a wood decking material is. High density hardwoods including Ipe, Jatoba, Machiche, and Garapa are all significantly more dense than red oak.

Hardwood Species Density (g/cm3)
Ipe hardwood 0.97
Cumaru hardwood 0.91
Jatoba hardwood 0.82
Garapa hardwood 0.79
Machiche hardwood 0.76
Red Oak (benchmark) 0.7

 

Hardwood Decking Bending Strength Comparison

Fiber bending strength is a scientific measurement of how strong a wood board is. Also known as “modulus of rupture”, bending strength is a test that determines how much weight it takes to break a board. The bending strength of hardwood decking is ‘off the charts’ strong.  Here is how each species compares to Ipe decking and red oak.

Hardwood Species  Bending Strength (psi)
Cumaru hardwood 27,270
Machiche hardwood 25,400
Ipe hardwood 25,200
Jatoba hardwood 25,100
Garapa hardwood 17,020
Red Oak (benchmark) 14,380

 

 

Hardwood Decking Crushing Strength Comparison

Crushing strength is also known as “compression parallel to the grain”. Crushing strength is often used to measure how much weight a column can support. High density hardwoods perform at a very high level.

Hardwood Species  Crushing Strength (kpsi)
Jatoba hardwood 14,200
Ipe hardwood 14,000
Cumaru hardwood 13,720
Machiche hardwood 12,900
Garapa hardwood 9,140
Red Oak (benchmark) 6,780

 

Durability of Hardwood Decking to Termites Comparison

The high density and naturally occurring oils in high density hardwood decking make them very resistant to termites and insect infestation.

Hardwood Species  Durability to Termites
Jatoba hardwood Very resistant
Machiche hardwood Very resistant
Ipe hardwood Very resistant
Cumaru hardwood Very resistant
Garapa hardwood Very resistant
Red Oak (benchmark) Not resistant

 

Durability of Hardwood Decking – Resistance to Rot Comparison

Fungal rot can wreak havoc on an exterior deck board. If you don’t clean the mold off softwood decking, the wood will rot and decay and become unsafe and unusable. High density hardwoods are naturally resistant to fungal decay. It is still a very good idea to clean any exterior wood decking as needed. Specialty cleaners like Penofin Pro-Tech Cleaner are a great way to keep your wood decking looking good and at peak performance.

Hardwood Species Durability to Fungal Rot
Jatoba hardwood Very resistant
Machiche hardwood Very resistant
Ipe hardwood Very resistant
Cumaru hardwood Very resistant
Garapa hardwood Resistant
Red Oak (benchmark) Non Durable

 

Tangential Shrinkage of Hardwood Decking Comparison

All woods move. Wood expands and contracts based on its moisture content. Lots of moisture will cause wood to expand. Loss of moisture causes woods to shrink. Tangential shrinkage is a measure of how much a flat sawn hardwood decking board will typically expand or contract with moisture changes.  In terms of tangential movement, Garapa and Cumaru expand and contract less than Ipe.

Hardwood Species  Tangential shrinkage (%)
Garapa hardwood 7.5%
Cumaru hardwood 7.6%
Ipe hardwood 8.0%
Machiche hardwood 8.2%
Jatoba hardwood 8.5%
Red Oak (benchmark) 8.6%

 

Radial Shrinkage of Hardwood Decking Comparison

Radial shrinkage is a measure of how much a vertical grain piece of wood is expected to expand or contract. Ipe is considered a stable exterior wood. Machiche, Garapa, Jatoba and Cumaru all perform better than Ipe in this measurement.

Hardwood Species  Radial Shrinkage (%)
Machiche hardwood 3.9%
Red Oak (benchmark) 4.0%
Garapa hardwood 4.2%
Jatoba hardwood 4.5%
Cumaru hardwood 5.0%
Ipe hardwood 6.6%

 

When you look at the radial and tangential expansion and contraction, you will have a good idea of how ‘stable’ a wood species is.

 

Fire Resistance of Hardwood Decking Comparison

Most high-density hardwood decking species have a naturally high flame resistance. Mataverde Ipe, Jatoba (Brazilian Cherry), Machiche, Cumaru, and Garapa have been tested for flame resistance and smoke density. Garapa hardwood decking has a Class B fire resistance. Mataverde Ipe, Jatoba, Machiche and Jatoba are all tested and meet or exceed Class A fire resistance standards.

Hardwood Species  ASTM E84 Fire Rating
Jatoba hardwood Class A
Machiche hardwood Class A
Cumaru hardwood Class A
Ipe hardwood Class A
Garapa hardwood Class B
Red Oak (benchmark) Not rated

 

Compare Ipe to Other Hardwood Decking Species

When you compare alternate hardwood decking to Ipe, there are a few differences. There are lots of similarities, too. Take a closer look at some of the best hardwood decking material species options and how they compare to Ipe decking.


Looking for the best decking material for your deck project?

Download "The Ultimate Guide to Selecting the Right Decking" today.

The Ultimate Guide to Selecting The Right Decking DOWNLOAD FREE NOW


 

Compare Machiche Decking to Ipe Decking

FSC® Certified Machiche decking is a beautiful coarser grained chocolatey brown high-density hardwood decking option. Here’s what typical Machiche decking boards look like next to typical Ipe hardwood decking.  Machiche is frequently specified when an FSC decking material is needed that performs at a high level. When your decking project budget is important, Machiche decking is less costly than Ipe decking.

Compare Machiche decking to Ipe decking

Here’s how FSC Machiche decking compares side by side with Ipe decking:

Ipe decking vs. Machiche decking mechanical properties comparison

Machiche decking can be used on residential backyard decks and is strong enough to be used on commercial projects.

FSC Machiche hardwood deck with dining and entertainment space-1

Machiche is a beautiful and long lasting decking option 

Learn more about Machiche decking here:

Machiche Decking Info

DOWNLOAD Machiche Decking Fact Sheet

Check out Machiche Decking Picture Gallery

REQUEST Machiche Decking Samples

 

Compare Jatoba Decking to Ipe Decking

Jatoba decking is better known as Brazilian Cherry. Jatoba decking is a medium grained light reddish brown high-density hardwood decking option. Here’s how a typical Jatoba decking boards looks next to typical Ipe hardwood decking. 

Compare Jatoba to Ipe decking

 

Here’s how Jatoba (Brazilian Cherry) decking compares side by side with Ipe decking

Ipe decking vs. Jatoba decking mechanical properties comparison

Jatoba decking is beautiful enough to use on a residential backyard deck and strong and durable enough to be used on commercial projects.

Jatoba hardwood decking railing walkway and benches

Jatoba decking is tough, long lasting and beautiful

 

Learn more about Jatoba Brazilian Cherry decking here:

Jatoba Decking info

DOWNLOAD Jatoba Decking Fact Sheet

Check out Jatoba Decking Picture Gallery

REQUEST Jatoba Decking Samples

 

Compare Garapa Decking to Ipe Decking

Garapa hardwood decking is a blonde to amber colored high density hardwood decking option. Garapa decking is a finer grained wood. Here’s what Garapa decking boards looks next to typical Ipe hardwood decking.

Compare Garapa to Ipe

See how Garapa decking compares side by side with Ipe decking:

Ipe decking vs. Garapa decking mechanical properties comparison

 

Garapa decking is an excellent and affordable decking material for backyard decks. Garapa is also strong enough for use on commercial projects.

Garapa_Boardwalk-Ortley_Beach-_under_construction

Garapa hardwood decking is tough enough for a boardwalk in New Jersey

 

Learn more about Garapa decking here:

Garapa Decking info

DOWNLOAD Garapa Decking Fact Sheet

Check out Garapa Decking Picture Gallery

REQUEST Garapa Decking Samples

 

Compare Cumaru Decking to Ipe Decking

 

Cumaru hardwood decking is a paler tan to reddish brown colored high density hardwood decking material. Cumaru decking is a coarse-grained wood with lots of interlocking grains. Here’s what Cumaru decking boards looks next to typical Ipe hardwood decking.

Compare Cumaru to Ipe

 

Here’s how Cumaru decking compares side by side with Ipe decking:

Ipe decking vs. Cumaru decking Mechanical properties comparison

 

Cumaru decking is an excellent decking material option for backyard decks. Cumaru is also strong enough, and durable enough, for use on commercial projects.

cumaru_deck_in_pound_ridge,_ny

Cumaru hardwood decking is a high performance material for residential and commercial projects

 

Learn more about Cumaru decking here:

Cumaru Decking info

DOWNLOAD Cumaru Decking Fact Sheet

Check out Cumaru Decking Picture Gallery

REQUEST Cumaru Decking Samples


Looking for more information about decking material options?

DOWNLOAD the "Ultimate Guide to Selecting the Right Decking" today.

The Ultimate Guide to Selecting The Right Decking DOWNLOAD FREE NOW


Need some inspiration for your deck design?

DOWNLOAD the "Deck Design Ideas Portfolio" today, 61 pages featuring over 150 deck ideas.

150+ Deck Design Ideas eBook  DOWNLOAD YOURS TODAY


Looking for pricing for your deck project?

Request a Decking Quote today

REQUEST DECKING QUOTE

Related Posts

Back to top