Ipe Decking: A Better Choice Than Composite Decking

By Ben Nystrom, 11/19/10

There are a number of reasons why exotic hardwoods such as Ipe make better decking material than composites. For instance, real wood Ipe decking is a natural, renewable, recyclable building material, making it much better for the environment than non-recyclable composite decking. Here are the top five reasons why Ipe decking is better than composite decking. Enjoy!

Appearance

Ipe decking is hands down the better looking building material of the two. Composite decking has inconsistent coloration from batch to batch and has an unnatural, plastic-like appearance, usually with a stamped-on wood grain impression.
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Structural Stability

Composites are not as structurally stable as hardwoods like Ipe decking. They don't handle temperature change very well, the material breaks down faster than hardwood, and the U.S. Government has even issued a number of recalls on types of composite decking after they were proven to be unsafe for use.

Ease of Maintenance

Ipe decking and other exotic hardwoods require very little maintenance over time. Real wood decking requires sweeping, leaf and yard debris removal, and on occasion, a light pressure wash. Composites, on the other hand, require harsh, abrasive chemicals and brush scrubbing in order to get clean. Also, composite decking can't be refinished, so once the deck gets scratches and scrapes you can't get rid of them.

Resistance to Decay

Because of its density and hardness, Ipe decking is naturally resistant to wood-boring insects, mold and other forms of wood rot and decay. Composite decking is very vulnerable to mold, mildew, termites and fungi, and because there is no way of repairing or refinishing composites, once decay has set in the deck will need to be replaced.
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The deck shown above was over 12 years old when the photo was taken. It was refinished with a penetrating Tung oil finish after pressure washing.

Cost Over Time

Ipe decking and other natural wood decking materials last longer and require less repair and maintenance than composites, making them more cost-effective. You can purchase some relatively cheap composite decking materials, but they are just that – cheap. They will rot, warp, chip, peal, and fade in a short amount of time. If you want a dependable, beautiful, long-lasting decking material, choose natural exotic hardwood.

By Ben Nystrom, 11/19/10

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