As the temperatures rise, deck building season will soon be in full swing. The lumber yards across the nation become bustling centers of activity as customers start filling their orders for new decking materials. Ipe, Cumuru, and Tigerwood will all suddenly be in high demand. Though Ipe is known as the king of hardwood decking materials, skyrocketing prices for this species have caused increased interest in some of the alternatives to this prized species.
In this series of articles, we’ll be exploring some of the different tropical species you may want to consider for your new deck if Ipe is out of your price range. After considering their varied characteristics, hopefully you’ll be able to select the one that best suits your needs and budget.
Ipe: The Top-of-the-Line Tropical Hardwood Decking Material
Ipe is the gold standard of hardwood species when it comes to decking. That’s because no matter what type of environment you use it in, it maintains its stability and strength. Contractors and builders often don’t even need to dry Ipe when planning to use it for an exterior application. It often comes to the lumber yard from the mills with a 15% or less moisture content. Because it is so durable, it’s known for standing the test of time. Whether its destination is a residential property or public boardwalks, this popular tropical hardwood is one of the most widely used decking materials on the market. Which brings us to the downside: the cost. Due to its phenomenal performance and its popularity, Ipe will tend to be more expensive than your other hardwood decking options.
Cumaru: The Most Popular Ipe Alternative
Cumaru is a great choice for anyone who is looking for a high-quality alternative to Ipe that won’t break the bank. Commonly known by the name Brazilian Teak, Cumaru comes in two different color varieties: red and yellow. If you’re going to construct a deck, the red Cumaru that mimics the look of Ipe is a more popular choice, though either would work, depending on your personal taste. The main difference that makes Cumaru slightly inferior to Ipe would be Cumaru’s tendency to shrink as well as its relative instability. This shrinkage could possibly pose a problem if you’re planning to use Cumaru decking in a dry climate area. You can help to minimize these problems by making sure that you only use kiln-dried Cumaru. At about 66% of the cost of Ipe, Cumaru is an easy-to-find dense hardwood that works well in place of Ipe.
Perhaps Cumaru is still selling at a higher price point than you want to pay. Or maybe you prefer a tropical hardwood with a different color than Ipe or Cumaru. In our next article in this series, we’ll take a look at some of the other decking alternatives that are out there on the market. There are several exciting and affordable options you may want to consider. We’ll discuss some of the positive and negative aspects of each one, so you can come to a decision about which wood species is right for you.