Examining Lower Cost Alternatives to Ipe Decking

By Bill Christou, 04/04/17

Welcome back to the Nova USA Wood blog, the most in-depth hardwood species series on the web. Decking season is just kicking in, so today's blog is taking a look at some of the lower cost alternatives to Ipe decking.

In the past decade or so, the popularity of tropical hardwood decking has exploded. While we may have seen the popularity of exotic species such as Cambara, Massaranduba, Garapa and the like come and go, one specie, Ipe or Brazilian Walnut, has become the gold standard among tropical hardwood decks.

Ipe decking has grown in popularity for good reason - properly maintained, it can have a very long useful product life and can remain attractive year after year. Ipe is strong, extremely resistant to decay and insects and weathers exceptionally well. When given a high quality oil finish it is a classic dark brown / walnut color and when left untreated and allowed to turn to a fine gray patina, it tends not to splinter or otherwise degrade excessively.

Even at near record-high prices, Ipe, may still be a great value compared to many composites on the market today, however there are a few other exotic species which a savvy consumer may want to consider when looking for good looks and high performance decking on a budget.

Cumaru Decking

Cumaru (otherwise known as Brazilian Teak) is a beautiful tannish to dark brown color with shades of yellow and caramel throughout. The grain of the species is interlocked and wavy with a coarse texture.

Cumaru is exceptionally hard with a Janka rating of 3200 --- 5% harder than Ipe! For those looking for a beautiful decking product that is highly resistant to termites and decay while withstanding all types of natural and man-made punishment Cumaru is ideal.

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From a stability stand-point Cumaru can be temperamental, especially in wider boards that are being installed in dry/arid climates. Proper installation procedures should be strictly adhered to when working with this species.

Batu Decking / Red Balau

Batu hardwood decking closely resembles the rich classic look of Mahogany and is a go-to species for any job that requires a superior finish, natural durability and long lasting performance.

Batu is a versatile, distinctive wood which lends elegance to any outdoor project without breaking the bank. While many people are partial to the rich, classic look of a Mahogany deck, most homeowners don't like the color inconsistency or the durability / maintenance hassles that accompany products like Cambara or Meranti.

The Batu product line is therefore ideal - providing customers long-lasting durability and visual appeal with minimal maintenance efforts.

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From a stability standpoint, when using Batu it is required that you build your deck so that the surface is at least 16" above the ground when using 1x4 or 5/4x4 decking material. When using 1x6 or 5/4x6, the deck must be constructed a minimum of 36" off the ground.

Angelim Pedra Decking

Angelim Pedra Decking is a medium-high density hardwood which is kiln dried for maximum stability. It also easily absorbs stains and oils. Angelim Pedra Decking is very durable and resistant to both fungi and termites and contains no harmful chemicals and can therefore be used near water with no worry of contamination.

An Angelim Pedra deck is an economical natural alternative to other decking options when the entire life cycle of the deck or outdoor project is considered. Its rich color and natural grain is breathtaking and is certain to provide a lifetime of beauty.

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From a stability stand-point Angelim Pedra has the potential to move in service when installed in close-to-ground applications without adequate air circulation underneath the deck (leading to potential cupping and warping of boards). It is therefore important that proper installation procedures are adhered to when working with this species.

Nova USA imports Cumaru / Brazilian Teak, Batu / Red Balau and Angelim Pedra decking and distributes to customers throughout North America.

If you have any questions regarding these species, or any of our other products, please don't hesitate to contact us.


By Bill Christou, 04/04/17

"nice blog"

By ABS Wood on 03/18/22

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