Ipe vs. Cumaru: Comparing Hardwood Decking Materials

By Ben Nystrom, 06/28/11

NovaUSAWood.com isn't just a platform for promoting and selling Nova's high-quality hardwood flooring and hardwood decking materials. The site also provides a wealth of information about many hardwood-related topics, from hardwood mechanical properties to installation techniques to rainforest deforestation. The following are excerpts from one such article, Ipe Decking vs. Cumaru Decking. The article takes a look at the pros and cons of both types of decking material and will hopefully help you make a decision if you're torn between the two. Enjoy!

Ipe Hardwood Decking

Ipe Decking

Ipe is regarded as the best material possible for use as exterior decking. Ipe has earned its reputation because it is naturally durable, stable, resists checking, and is absolutely gorgeous. With a deep and rich red brown color, Ipe is considered by most lumber experts to be the ultimate choice for high quality decking.

Ipe grows throughout the tropical regions of South America and Central America. Like so many other exotic tropical hardwoods, Ipe is found in the rainforests regions of the Americas. The Brazilian rainforest which extends into Bolivia, Peru, Columbia, Venezuela, Equador and the Guyanas, is the most heterogeneous forest in the world; with more diversity of species, it is critical that we do not put too much pressure on any single species of timber. Ideally, we will find acceptable commerial uses for most of the species which flourish in the Amazon. By carefully harvesting our tropical forests, we can sustain this exceptional resource forever. The key is to use selective logging and not to clear cut the forest for agricultural uses.

Ipe Hardwood Decking

Cumaru Decking

Cumaru hardwood was one of the first exotic wood alternatives to Ipe for use as decking. Imported from the same regions as Ipe, Cumaru is somewhat similar in appearance and was originally just mixed in with Ipe. Cumaru is often separated into two color separations: light, also known as standard Cumaru, Brazilian Teak; and dark, also known as Red Cumaru, Brazilian Chestnut, or Southern Chestnut.

Cumaru is readily available from many countries in South America. Long term supplies are plentiful and sustainable forestry practices apply just as they do with harvesting Ipe. There is less pressure on Cumaru trees and we certainly expect that Cumaru will have a long future as one of the primary tropical hardwood species used for residential and commercial decking.

By Ben Nystrom, 06/28/11

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