You’re ready to install a deck at your home and you want it to last, right? If so, consider Ipe wood decking.

Did you know: Ipe wood is the second-hardest wood in the world? This tough and durable wood has a high density that can withstand just about anything,

It’s no wonder Ipe decking’s popularity is growing among homeowners and business owners.

Not only is it used on countless home decks, famous spots such as the Atlantic Boardwalk and Las Vegas’s Treasure Island Resort have even used it.

In fact, the Coney Island Boardwalk in New York was constructed out of Ipe wood decking. It lasted for 70 years.

And after it was removed from Coney Island, the wood was repurposed. People have bought portions of Coney Island’s Ipe wood deck and used it to create tables, benches, and other projects.

Ipe wood, also known as Brazilian walnut, is an exotic South American Hardwood. It comes in a broad range of colors such as reddish brown, tan, olive, and dark brown.

Why is Ipe wood decking so popular? There are many reasons this is a top choice for wood decking, not the least of which its durability & its virtually impenetrability.

Ipe wood decking is a true investment in your home that will last for many years to come.

Ipe Wood Decking Pros

  1. Durability & longevity
  2. Resistant to rot, insects & more
  3. Minimal warping
  4. Beautiful colors & grains
  5. Doesn’t retain heat
  6. Eco-friendly

1. It is a strong, high-density hardwood that ages well.

Ipe is an extremely durable, 100% natural wood decking.

In fact, it is eight times harder than California Redwood trees. And it is three times stronger than Cedar.

It is also twice and dense and five times as hard as pressure treated wood.  Ipe has the same Class A fire rating as concrete or steel.

What does this mean? Ipe wood decking has a very low heat release rate.

And this strong wood decking will last a very long time. If you choose Ipe wood decking, you can expect it to last for 40 years or more.

So, there is a good chance your deck will remain at your home even longer than you will.

2. It is resistant to insects, mold, and fungus, and will not decay or rot.

Why does Ipe wood decking age so well? Part of the reason is that this tropical wood will not decay or rot.

How can this be? To start, Ipe is extremely hard.

Insects, mold, and fungus all love to inhabit soft, wet wood. So, they are not attracted to Ipe.

In fact, Ipe has the highest rating by the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory for termite resistance. How did they determine this level of termite resistance?

They tested the decking by placing it underground. Ipe wood decking resisted termite attacks while buried in the ground for 15 years.

No other wood decking can make this same claim.

3. Ipe comes in naturally long planks that have very little warping issues.

Ipe trees can grow to 150 feet tall and have a diameter of up to six feet wide. Although most Ipe trees are around 100 feet and two to three feet wide.

But even at these heights, the Ipe tree is very tall. So, naturally, you can find long planks.

With many other types of wood, you have the issue of warping with longer planks. Not so with Ipe.

Ipe is air-dried which leaves about a 14% to 18% moisture range. This range helps it remain stable outdoors.

And with proper acclimatization and installation, Ipe is a very stable, non-warping product.

4. This tropical wood comes in beautiful colors and grains.

Ipe is stunning to look at. It is a very tight-grained wood that has little to no knots in it.

Its coloring is beautiful and ranges from light chocolate brown to olive, and even some almost blackish colors.

Finishing it with oil will help it to keep its natural colors. Apply Ipe wood oil annually for a beautiful, like new shine.

However, without oil, it also ages to a lovely silver-gray color.

5. It stays cool and won’t retain heat.

Do you like to walk outside barefoot?  In the heat of the summer, this isn’t always possible.

Or is it? If you have an Ipe wood deck, there’s a good chance you could walk around without shoes at noon in the middle of August.

While Ipe does have some warmth when the sun is out, it does not retain the heat. So, it never gets too hot to walk on.

6. Ipe is sustainable and eco-friendly.

Many suppliers of Ipe now implement practices from organizations such as the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and United States Green Building Council (USGB) to produce responsible decking materials.

You can even find FSC certified Ipe wood decking. What is FSC certification?

FSC certification protects fragile ecosystems, respects native economies and cultures, prevents illegal logging, and clear-cutting and pesticide use.  It also implements sustainable forestry methods.

Some of these sustainable forestry methods include harvesting trees that no longer produce seeds and selective logging that promotes healthy forests.

Plus, Ipe is not treated with any chemicals or toxins as some other decking options are. So, it is a very eco-friendly and safe choice for your home.

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Ipe Wood Decking Cons

  1. Maintenance
  2. Pre-drilling required
  3. Expensive
  4. Legality concerns

1. It requires some maintenance.

While Ipe wood decking will not rot, or grow mold, or get overtaken by termites, it still needs a little routine Ipe cleaning & maintenance to keep it looking beautiful.

Over time its color can begin to turn gray. If you like this look, then you don’t really have to do anything.

However, if you want your deck to keep its beautiful red and brown hues, then you’ll need to apply a coat of stain to it annually.

2. You’ll have to pre-drill holes and fasteners.

One of the primary Ipe wood cons is the installation process. If you want to install an Ipe wood deck, you cannot lay the planks, then simply connect them. All your holes must be drilled into the wood before you begin to assemble it.

Does this sound like a strange way to build a deck?  Perhaps.

However, Ipe wood is so hard that you need a carbide tip saw blade and special drill bits to get the job done. Otherwise, you will probably damage your existing tools.

Or, you can buy pre-grooved or tongue-and-groove planks and skip the tools altogether.

3. Ipe wood decking is not cheap.

Ipe is a hard, durable and high-quality natural wood.  And this comes at a price.

Decking ranges anywhere from $2 to $14 a square foot on average.

Ipe is at the higher end of this range. In fact, the only decking that is generally more expensive is Aztec synthetic decking.

There are other exotic woods similar in hardness that are less expensive. And one of the primary reasons these other options are less is because there is not as much demand for them.

So, you could find something of similar quality for less money.

4. Some Ipe wood is illegally harvested.

While much of the Ipe wood that is harvested is done so with sustainable practices in mind, not all of it is.

Ipe and other tropical woods are sometimes harvested illegally. In fact, about 15% of the wood trade industry is harvested illegally.

So, make sure to choose your manufacturer carefully. It is best to go with one that offers FSC Certified Ipe decking.

Fortunately, many of the more reputable decking companies do offer FSC certified Ipe wood decking.

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How to Find High Quality Ipe Wood Decking

Ipe is an extremely popular choice in wood decking, not only for homes but also for commercial properties.

And because of its demand, there is a problem with illegal harvesting (as mentioned earlier). This leads to shoddy business practices and unsustainable forestry.

The first step to finding high-quality Ipe wood decking is to purchase one from a business that sells responsibly harvested Ipe. Buying FSC certified wood is one way to guarantee that you are doing so.

Another tip for Ipe wood decking is to choose pre-grooved deck boards. These boards have already been set up to install a hidden fastener system.

Since Ipe is so hard to cut or drill into, a hidden fastener system will save you time and money on installation.

Large home improvement stores such as Lowe’s and Home Depot do not offer natural Ipe wood but instead, have Ipe composite wood.

This is synthetic. So, if true Ipe wood is what you are looking for, make sure that you know the difference.

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Ipe Wood Decking Cost

As discussed before, Ipe wood decking is not cheap. It is one of the hardest woods available and it is in high demand.

On average, for a 100-square foot deck, you can expect to pay:

  • $12.40 per square foot (minimum), OR
  • $575 to $695 for materials.
  • $575 to $635 for installation.
  • TOTAL cost (minimum estimate) of around $1150 to $1330.

When calculating the costs, budget an additional 7% to 15% for any difficult configurations or patterns. And try to get multiple quotes from insured Ipe decking contractors.

Also, keep in mind that these prices are only estimates. Your actual Ipe wood cost will depend on factors such as where you live and where you purchase your decking from.

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Ipe Wood Decking Durability

Ipe wood decking rates extremely high in durability. And it ranks very high on the Janka hardness test.

In fact, it is the second hardest wood in the world. And it can last 40 years or even longer.

Unlike other popular decking options such as red cedar and pressure treated wood, Ipe rates high in density and stability, and low for warping and splintering.

Plus, it is not vulnerable to mold, decay, bugs, or water damage like the other types are. So, if you are in the market for decking and want a highly durable, natural wood deck, Ipe is one of your best options.

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What does ipe stand for in wood decking?

Because the word “ipe” is an abbreviation and acronym in business, education, politics, and the financial sector, many people think that “ipe” is an abbreviation when it comes to wood. This is not the case,, as ipe is not an abbreviation, but rather a sort of nickname. 

Names like Brazilian walnut, South American hardwood, Lapacho, and Tabebuia Serratifolia (one of the most popular species of tropical hardwood) are a mouthful, so many people simply use “ipe” as an umbrella term for this type of material.   

Is Ipe decking more expensive than Trex?

Ipe decking typically costs a minimum of $12.40 per square foot, while Trex decking usually comes in at a budget of between $9 to $16 per square foot. This means that, depending on the brand you pick and your installation requirements, Trex decking is normally the cheaper option.

Does Ipe decking need to be sealed?

While you don’t have to seal ipe decking, it is recommended, especially if you plan on installing it outdoors. This is simply because exposure to the sun’s harsh UV rays can cause ipe to fade when left unsealed. 

On the other hand, when left unsealed ipe turns a silver-gray color which many find appealing.

What is the best finish for Ipe decking?

When it comes to finishing an ipe deck, you have three different options: use a stain, use an oil, or leave it unfinished. You should avoid water-based and film finishes as these are not appropriate for ipe decks.  

The best finish for ipe decking is Messmer’s UV Plus Deck Stain. This stain will protect the ipe decking from the sun’s UV rays, provide your deck with mildew resistance, and just one coat will make it safe for outdoor usage for between one and two years.

Ipe Wood Decking Reviews

Advantage Trim and Lumber Company

Advantage Trim and Lumber is one of the leading international suppliers of exotic hardwood flooring and decking.  The company has been in business for over 17 years and offers prices close to wholesale online.

They provide sustainable decking, hardwood siding, lumber, and flooring. And they are a certified FSC supplier.

Most of the online reviews of this company have been favorable citing high-quality products and service.

Advantage offers several varieties of Ipe including standard planks, pre-grooved decking, tongue and groove, dimensional Ipe lumber, and other specialty pieces.


Altruwood is a company that is committed to provided responsibly harvested lumber products to its customers. It has been FSC certified since 2004, the same year the company was founded.

The company is headquartered in Portland, Oregon. They are an industry leader for procuring difficult source materials.

They sell unfinished Ipe wood decking in a variety of lengths ranging from six feet to 16 feet. And all the Ipe wood decking that they sell is FSC certified.

East Teak Fine Hardwoods, Inc.

East Teak Fine Hardwoods, based out of Tacoma, WA offers a variety of fine hardwood species, including Ipe.

The company began in the 1970s with a focus on the marine and boat building industry. It revolutionized industry standards with its just-in-time millwork and custom mouldings.

East Teak has since expanded beyond the marine industry to sell fine hardwoods for a variety of purposes.

They offer a wide selection of Ipe wood including pre-grooved, tongue-and-groove, rain screen, and custom profiles.


Mataverde has been a building materials supplier for over 60 years.

The company offers a variety of wood deck options, including Ipe wood. Their Ipe is specifically harvested from Northern Brazil.

In addition to standard Ipe decking, Mataverde also sells tongue-and-groove, pre-grooved, and FSC certified options.

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About Fortino Rosas

Chief Floor Critic, 32 years of experience in flooring installation and sales Fortino Rosas is an independent flooring contractor with 32 years of experience in residential and commercial flooring installation and sales. He joined the Floor Critics team to share his expertise with our readers. Fortino has acquired vast knowledge and skills in the areas of product selection, space planning, and installation. He has installed flooring in residential, government, and commercial office projects in the Midwest.

13 thoughts on “Ipe Wood Decking: Reviews, Best Brands & Pros vs. Cons”

  1. Really good article, thanks for some awesome inormation! As an Ipe hardwood dealer, we know how good Ipe can be and suggest it to builders all the time for it’s longevity.

  2. After reading the pros and cons about ipe decking ! I thinks its totaly worth it to go for ipe decking instead of normal wood decking. Thanks for sharing .

  3. How can I post a picture of an Ipe deck I just did? We at Eco Pressure Wash Of South Texas completely tore an old deck apart replaced about 21 joists and then created a beautifully designed inlay on a two tier deck top one is 20×14 the lower a 12ft octagon. Both decks have a 3 5.5″ inlay with no cuts and all the corners were mitered. In the middle we layed the boards stagaurd. I would really like people to see what a difference this wood can do. I do not have pictures on my site. I have been busy ever since finishing “The Deck”.

  4. I would add Overseas Hardwoods Company ( to the list of reputable Ipe importers and manufacturers. They are based in Mobile, AL and one of the only manufacturers that hand sorts for grade and pre-sands there Ipe decking to remove residue. They also have two manufacturing plants so they can create any profile you need.

    They have the most uniform boards in the industry, but I’m probably biased since I work there!

    1. I’m wanting to seal a Brazilian walnut porch. Where the sun has hit it occasionally through the day it has darkened considerably I tried cleaning it with a light degreaser and bleach by

      Scrubbing and rinsing real well. The wood is darkened still where the sun has been on it and untreated for about 2 years. Should I try lightly sanding the darkened area to see if it lightens up before I apply and oil-based hardwood sealer to protect it from further discoloration?

      1. Look into deckwise ipe products i use their cleaner and brightener. Then their oil and decks turn out wonderful

    2. I would like to have a large planter box made out of ipe; is it possible?
      Are there pre made boxes available for sale?
      I live in San Francisco bay area.

  5. Our IPE decking has uneven dark stains all over – only the area without exposure to rain and plenty of sun remains smooth and aged beautifully. All other planks have been power washed off as well as scrubbed with chlorine/water solution. Still, the planks look unevenly stained. Our decks receive sun but not all day. Any suggestion?

    1. I’ve had my ipe deck for about 18 years. The only places where it had darker stains were where I had a doormat and such sitting on it constantly. That was when I did the annual or so oil treatments. Now I don’t treat it and let it turn grey as I like the look better.

      My advice:

      1. Don’t power wash ipe. It causes the surface grain to lift leaving a slightly splintery texture that you’ll have to sand down.

      2. Don’t use bleach. This is very harsh on the wood, not to mention the environment, your skin, your clothes, etc. etc. Use an ipe or hardwood cleaning product with a stiff brush. I used the Penefin brand cleaner/brightener when I was treating with their oil as it opens up the pores of the wood to accept the new oil too.

      3. If the stains are still there, you may have to try some sanding to get the stains out, which is what I did for the doormat stains.

      4. If all else fails, you can always flip the boards over.

      5. Use a good quality oil/stain specifically made for hardwoods, not the cheap/generic “for wood decks” stuff. The unevenness could be from the stain you used.

      Hope this helps you!

    2. I have had my tiger wood deck for 10 years now.
      I use Beautiful Deck two step products to clean and brighten the wood.
      After letting the deck dry well, I follow up with the Mesmer oil stain. I like the red tones that I had when the wood was new and I find Mesmer’s Caribbean Teak product best make the wood dance.

    3. One of the really great things about Ipe is that it’s denisty means most staining or scratches are superficial and you can sand out imperfections. Here at Mataverde Decking and Siding we suggest using Penofin UV protectant from the start so it may just be that your decking is unevenly aging to a silver patina (perfectly natural). Try using a UV protectant oil finish annually and that may help. Of coursem without photos it’s hard to tell, but that’s my first thought. Our experts are always happy to answer maintenance questions and suggest products here, if that doesn’t solve your issue! Just drop us an a email through our site. Good Luck!

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