The most common woods used in building a deck are cedar, redwood, and pressure-treated wood. If you want something a little different and extra special, you might want to consider using an “exotic” hardwood like Ipe (Tabebuia serratifolia).
This tropical hardwood is considered one of the best choices for decking. This strong, durable wood is also known as Ironwood or Brazilian Walnut. Both names reference its amazing strength and beauty.
Ipe has other properties that make it ideal for outdoor use:
It naturally resists decay and rot and doesn’t require preservatives. This makes it suitable for use near waterways.
- Its fire rating is Class A1 – the same as steel and concrete!
- Ipe is generally a warm reddish-brown; it also frequently has darker or lighter stripes running throughout the grain. Resembling teak, Ipe is actually superior for many outdoor applications.
- It’s also a less expensive and more sustainably sourced product than most teak.
Ipe is resistant to insects. It is so dense it sinks rather than floating like other woods.
Ipe’s sustainability makes it a good choice for environmentally conscious consumers. The Brazilian Institute of Environmental and Renewable Natural Resources (IBAMA) ensures that Ipe is harvested in a sustainable, environmentally responsible manner.
IBAMA issues harvest certificates which allow loggers to harvest a limited number of trees from specific areas. The certificates must accompany the lumber throughout each step of its journey from the Brazilian forests to American lumberyards.
Sustainably harvesting tropical hardwoods actually increases the value of the entire ecosystem in which they grow. Local people have an incentive to conserve and properly manage tropical rainforests when they can make a living through those efforts. The alternative is clear cutting – a devastating prospect now and for the future.
By purchasing tropical hardwoods harvested in an environmentally responsible manner, you are helping to support tropical eco-systems and the people who live there. All while enjoying the beauty and durability of your new Ipe deck!