When you’re looking for a high-end decking material, two options often pop up: teak and Ipe. These are both kinds of wood that naturally grow in tropical areas, where they had to adapt to wet and intensely competitive conditions. The results are two highly sturdy wood types, both with rich color. Ipe and teak are both easily the most sought-after woods for outdoor features such as decks. Is there a clear winner between these two? Typically, professionals recommend Ipe wood as the best for decking. Why is that, and is it the best wood for your project? We’ll discuss that below.
Ipe is considered the best wood for decking because it has the highest hardness. Hardness is essentially the density and physical durability of wood. Ipe may have up to three times as much hardness as teak, which is already a much harder wood than even your average hardwood species. Ipe, therefore, offers the best durability to physical damage. It also does not move, shrink, or expand almost at all once installed, which makes it highly stable and resistant to the affects of sun, rain and other weather.
While Ipe has very high waterresistance, teak is better. Teak does not grow as densely as Ipe, but it does absorb silica as it grows, which is a type of silicon sand that resists water. Due to its high silica content, teak handles water exposure better than Ipe. Although Ipe handles water exposure very well, teak is still preferred for boats and other projects where wood is in direct contact with water. Your deck shouldn’t be, but if you have exceptionally high humidity, teak may serve you well.
Ipe is generally a more expensive wood than teak. Although, both woods are more expensive when considering your lower quality wood options. If you are looking at these woods, the cost may not be as much of a factor for you, particularly if you want to ensure that you don’t need to repair or replace your deck for many, many years. You should look into the comparative cost of these woods from your local supplier.
Teak and Ipe both look good to most people, but there is a clear distinction between them. Teak is a lighter wood and is a less highly saturated brown than Ipe. Ipe is frequently a very rich brown, with red undertones that look more tropical and more intense.
Ethics of Logging
Logging either teak or Ipe in their natural environments can have poor effects on the local environment, even though they support the local economy. Ideally, you’d choose to source either wood from a plantation, where teak is frequently grown, or at least from companies that use selective logging for Ipe. You can discuss the ethics of how your specific woods were harvested from the supplier.
The Best Choice for Decking
Which is the best choice for your decking? Both are very high-quality and durable woods. While Ipe is most often recommended as the best wood, if you prefer the look of teak, it will create a great deck too.