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General Ipe information and FAQs

The Basics of Brazilian Hardwoods, or, Frequently Asked Ipe Questions

What are Brazilian Hardwoods? Brazilian Hardwoods include the species of Ipe, Jatoba, Cumaru, Tigerwood, Masaranduba. These woods are more commonly know as Brazilian Walnut (Ipe), Brazilian Teak (Cumaru), and Brazilian Redwood (Masaranduba). Brazilian Wood Decks, especially Ipe, are known throughout the world for their durability and their beauty. A Brazilian Hardwood deck will outlast almost any other due to its high density and natural resistance against insects.

What is Ipe specifically? Per Wikipedia; Ipe wood is used for furniture, decking, and other outdoor uses. It has high fire resistance, and is denser than water (it sinks). It is increasingly popular as a decking material due to its insect resistance and durability. 

Why should I use Brazilian Decking like Ipe vs composites or other materials? Brazilian Hardwoods like Ipe and Cumaru are environmentally responsible choices which naturally resist rot, decay, insects, and mold without the use of toxic chemicals used in other decking products. Brazilian Hardwoods are naturally fire resistant. Additionally, Brazilian hardwoods like Ipe are incredibly strong, dense, and harvested from naturally sustainable forests. Brazilian Hardwoods are very durable in daily use, and are resistant to splintering and checking.

How hard are Brazilian Hardwoods like Ipe and how do they compare to Domestic woods like Oak and Hickory? All woods are ranked on the Janka Scale. Brazilian Hardwoods are generally 2 to 3 times as hard as anything grown domestically.

What are other names for Brazilian Hardwoods? Ipe is known by many names: Ipe Brazil, Amapa, cortex, Guayacan, Flor Amarillo, Greenheart, Madera negra, Tahuari, Lapacho negro and probably others. In addition, it has a number of trade names such as Ironwood™, Pau Lope™ and Brazilian Walnut. Unfortunately, some dealers use these trade names not only for Ipe wood, but also a number of other similar species like cumaru. At Advanced Building Supplies you can always be assured you are getting what you need wether it is Ipe, Cumaru, Tigerwood, or other Wood species.

What separates traditional decking woods from the exotic ones? The exotic woods differentiate themselves by their unbeatable hardness and their fabulous natural colors. Brazilian hardwoods have a rich grain that makes application of colorant unnecessary. Hardness is demonstrated by the Janka Scale.

Why use Brazilian Hardwoods for decking? Brazilian Hardwoods far outlast PT and look beautiful. The hardest, Ipe is rated to last 100 years. What this means is the will retain their beauty for as long as you own your home. They will then be an asset towards its sale. A Pressure Treated Pine (PT) deck will need to be replaced in 10-15 years. This means it will be showing its age in a far shorter time. Brazilian hardwoods will still look new.

Can I use Brazilian Hardwood for my Dock? Yes! Brazilian Hardwood provides the same benefits for docks as it does for decks. If anything, Brazilian hardwood makes even more sense in a dock application. This site shows a Cumaru Dock originally built with PT. It was old and unsafe then replaced with Cumaru.

Do Pine Beatles, Termites, or other insects attack Brazilian Hardwoods? Pine Beatles are spreading throughout the US. The good news is the US Department of Agriculture and Forestry rates Ipe as "Very resistant to attack by decay, fungi and termites."  Ipe decking is so hard the bugs always find something else that attracts them.  Their little "teeth" cannot bite Ipe.

How do Brazilian Hardwoods like Ipe withstand the weather? Weather has little to no effect upon the structural integrity of Ipe, Cumaru or any Brazilian Hardwood decking. The sun will eventually transform the decking from it's original colors to a beautiful silver patina. If you choose, you can keep the original colors by periodic applying a UV Deck Finisher.

Note: throughout this website, we use the term Ipe and Brazilian Hardwoods interchangeably. In 99% of the time, what is said about Ipe will also apply to the other hardwood decking, specifically; Jatoba, Tigerwood, Cumaru, Cumaru Rosa, Tatajuba, Garapa, Massaranduba, and others that we carry. If a specific discussion or answer only applies to a specific wood species, then that fact will be communicated to the reader.