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Tigerwood Decking, Ipe or Cumaru: Best Tropical Decking Options

Two men unload Ipe Decking from a truck in Utah.

Spring is decking “season” and we have a while to get there. But late December is a great time to think about what wood to use on your next deck. During the springtime, the mills use the vast majority of their day grooving Ipe decking boards which are meant for hidden fasteners. Most of our trucks are usually loaded with Cumaru, Ipe or Tigerwood decking to be moved all around the country and even boats to other countries based on client’s request. Just as we have disclosed before on this site, Ipe remains an unquestionable decking material; however, the cost keeps rising year by year. Hence, we are looking towards other possible decking option to Ipe currently, and we felt that it is an ideal time to share the available options with our clients.

A lot of quality tropical decking species with different appearance and performance are available, but, how do you know which species are appropriate for your need?

Ipe Alternatives

Red Balau Decking: This kind is workable than many other similar tropical types of wood. Balau belongs to the Shorea genus – a reason why it shares texture, hue and workability qualities with Mahogany. Balau is relatively hard – when compared to the domestic Hard Maple – durable, and has a regular and flawless color pattern than most other tropical decking woods. Besides, it is half of Ipe’s cost in price. For this reason, it has become a great wood in the tropical decking world. However, it cannot be easily seen as Ipe or Cumaru, which makes it difficult for local sellers to find.

Jatoba: Possibly, you might have heard about Jatoba before, and it can even be the one currently used for your house’s interior flooring. It is commonly known as Brazilian Cherry. Because of its extreme hardness, it is an outstanding choice for interior flooring work. Also, it is quite resistant against insect and rot – one of the qualities which make it to be very stable. In the long run of use and due to exposure to sunlight, the appealing red color also usually becomes deeper. Hence, the use of Jatoba is an excellent choice to combine your exterior deck with your interior floor.

Tigerwood Decking and Others

Tigerwood Decking: this species is also known as Goncalo Alves. It is famous for its brownish-orange and dark stripes appearance which makes it look like a Tiger. Usually, it can become darker as a deep reddish-brown over time. While the Tigerwood does dry excellently and stays stable for different weather, kiln drying is necessary to attain stability. Although Tigerwood decking is mostly used for decking, they can also be applied to interior works. Due to the variegated stripping, the construction of deck with regular appearance can be challenging when readily obtainable. The most challenging part of a Tigerwood decking is that the stripes are not consistent – while one board may have zero stripping, another may have massive stripping. From our experience, when used as an entire decking, while the smooth surface can be quite pleasurable to a barefoot, it can be slippery.

Massaranduba Brazilian Redwood Decking: Massanduba is also called the Brazilian Redwood or Bullet wood. This species is quite dense and hard. They are usually found large and produce an excellently straight and regular grained board which are ideal for decking. They do occur in red color and do become brown when exposed. Regarding hardness, Massanduba is 20% lesser than Ipe, but it is still much durable. Besides, Massanduba hardly breaks apart when used in climates such as the Rockies and the Southwest. Because Massanduba is more stable under wet environments, they are popular in Europe. It is advisable to consider the climate before choosing Massanduba for decking meticulously. It has a similar price to Cumaru and can be obtained with ease. Also, this kind of wood is an excellent alternative for selective climates.

Garapa Decking: Garapa is another sturdy and dense decking wood. It is commonly referred to as Brazilian Oak. It is lemon-yellow in appearance, and always conspicuous. Clients mostly inform us that although Garapa is stable and handy for decking work, the color remains a “No” for many house-owners. Regarding hardness, it is about 40% less hard to Ipe. However, it remains as a harder wood than most domestic species. In fact, it belongs to the rating of class-A woods among the South American decking woods. Also, the color issues are mostly resolved with dyes or stains to give Garapa an Ipe-like appearance.

Cambara decking: they are also mostly categorized as a variant of Mahogany because they possess identical attributes such as reddish-brown hue and open grain. In truth, Cambara is not ideal for decking because of its irregular presence in Brazil and grade inconsistency. It has only been mentioned here because some people used to make use of it some years back but not anymore.

Perfect Woods for Decks

Cumaru against Ipe: Ipe is one of our most popular decking products, and it is specialized upon by Ipe Woods USA, as the name says. However, we also engage in the shipment of Cumaru, Red Balau, Tigerwood, and Jatoba of various sizes. For the Tigerwood decking, we store them in a relatively lesser amount but can be obtained in whatever quantity based on a request. Also, because we are aware that the other options stated above are workable species, we do supply them in whatever quantity our clients order for.

From our several years of supplying decking materials, Ipe has remained as an excellent product beyond others; hence, we have continued to use it as our flagship offering. However, due to the increasing cost of Ipe, we have started to engage in massive stocking position in other species as an alternative, and so far, our clients have been grateful for our new approach. Apart from the tropical decking woods, we are also ready to serve your needs concerning decking materials. Basically, in a case where our client demand for a specific kind of wood, we are always prepared to stock as demanded.

Nevertheless, all of our chosen species have reasons behind them, and most times, we do try to make clients see the reasons why they should choose a particular species over some others mentioned herein. Ultimately, many factors are usually involved in constructing a deck, and your situation may be different from others. Hence, it is advisable to allow us to pick the ideal tropical decking species for your job.

See our Ipe vs Other Hardwoods Page.

Caitlan Wallace Memorial Scholarship Winner

We had many great applicants for the Caitlan Wallace Memorial Scholarship. We are very proud to be announcing the winner of the Caitlan Wallace Memorial Scholarship, Samantha Martinez of Arizona State University. The scholarship will be again available in 2018-2019, the details will follow soon. Congratulations to Samantha on winning the scholarship this year. We are happy to be able and honor the memory of Caitlan and bring something positive out of the tragedy of her passing. We look forward to next years Scholarship and we will be increasing the amount.

Acquisition of Competitor Completed – Announcement to Follow

It is no secret the Ipe Woods USA has grown drastically in 2018. In fact, you may know that Ipe Woods USA is a less than 2-year-old company. Our fierce competitive spirit and commitment to quality and customer service are showing. Not only have we grown from a completely unknown company, but we have now acquired one of our competitors and leading Ipe wood wholesale website distributors online.

The official announcement is expected in November.  This acquisition will help lead Ipe Woods USA to an even more dominant online company in 2019 and years to come.  The official announcement will be very exciting. We are excited to add to our ability to serve customers.

One thing that will not be changing is Ipe Woods USA’s award-winning customer service and commitment to quality. Many people rely on us for their customer projects and personal projects. We work hard to ensure that trust is placed in the right area. Every day we work to ensure prompt delivery and high-quality lumber.

Your Own Little Hideaway, Right in the Middle of the Yard

Sometimes you just want to be away from it all, even if you’re only in the middle of  your own yard.

What Does it Look Like?

A gazebo of ipe wood would add just one more touch of class to your yard.  If you close your eyes, you can already see it, right there in the middle of your yard.  Standing there, inviting. Think and imagine carefully. What do you see? Does it have windows that can keep the rain and weather out, or is it open letting the breeze through, and keeping things cool in the shade?  

How is it set up?  Do you have benches around the walls, or do you have some high-end lawn furniture in the middle it?  Or did you decide to build some chairs and furniture out of ipe?

Imagine hard, and you’ll see it.  You can see it there in your yard with ipe’s dark, rich tones.  Keep imagining, and you’ll also feel the envy of your neighbors when they see it.  

The Challenge

There’s no denying the beauty of a gazebo built of ironwood, nor how tough it is.  It’s not something that’s going to blow over with the first storm that comes along.

There is something else that ipe offers that few other kinds of wood offer, and that’s a challenge.  If you’re a woodworker yourself, you may be feeling the challenge of building something from one of the hardest woods on the planet.  

Ipe’s density and hardness, make it one of the most durable woods you’ll ever work with.  Anything you build with it will last for a good long time, something future generations will be admiring.  

Maybe you’re the type who loves a good challenge, and building with ipe will certainly be that.  Building a gazebo from Brazilian walnut will certainly be a challenge, and different from doing a deck.  

That doesn’t mean it can’t be done.  It’s not impossible. Just remember the motto of the US Navy Construction Battalion (the Sea Bees):  “The difficult we can do right away; the impossible takes a little longer.”

And when you’ve finished it, you’ll be able to point with pride at having done something that few other people have done.   

You’ve climbed the mountain.

Do It Now

As the saying goes, there is no time like the present.  Every day you put off building that beautiful gazebo in your yard, is one less day for you to enjoy the shade, and the sense of contentment you’ll have knowing you’ve got your own little hiding place there waiting for you.  

Ipe Woods USA, found at has all the materials you’ll need to build your hideaway place in the backyard.  What are you waiting for? You know it’s going to look gorgeous, and be the perfect hiding spot. Visit us today and get the ball rolling.  Just do it now. You won’t regret it.

Shady Lumber Selling Practice Exposed

There are some shenanigans afoot in the Ipe decking world and we want to educate buyers of some shady practices going on.

Currently, there are companies that are out of stock on a lot of common Ipe sizes. But this has not stopped them from quoting the boards. They will, in fact, build you a quote like normal. These quotes are then used by contractors and homeowners to build their quotes and set budgets for the project. But, when you go to buy, and they will say they are out of wood and it won’t be in for sometimes months!

Why would a company quote wood they know they don’t currently have? We agree that it is shady. We have some theories, here is why we think, Ipe is purchased seasonally from Brazil. In the off-season when the wood is not being floated down the rivers because they are dried up it cost more. So if they did not properly project their Ipe needs they would have to buy at a higher price as the supply is much lower. Rather than tell the customer this it seems that they prefer to quote at the lower price and just keep them hanging on until they can get the cheaper wood prices in the right season.

Why are we publicly making this warning?

We know how hard contractors work to bid projects properly and to get projects done on time. This purposeful deception not only can cause contractors to have delayed projects but even lose credibility with clients and lose customers. Here at Ipe Woods USA, we do not believe this practice to be ethical or respectful of customers time and reputation.

What can I do?

Maybe you want to hold out for a better price? Later in the year is a cheaper time to buy historically. Once the other companies have inventory all prices (including our own) will usually be lower. It might be a better time to buy. However, there is not a guarantee.

Get it in writing!

If a company is telling you to wait, we recommend you get it in writing that:

1. They will have inventory by a specific date.

2. They will honor the quote you got from them.

We know your project and time are valuable and if they can not guarantee this it may be costing you money and projects, getting it in writing at least gives you some recourse.

Ipe Woods USA is  Committed to Customers!

We are committed to never knowingly quoting inventory that is out of stock. We work hard to try and ensure we always have inventory available.

A Touch of the Green Stuff

With the completion of your Ipe wood deck and the arrival of summer, it’s time to celebrate a little, invite the family, friends and neighbors over to ooh and aah over your brand-spankin’ new ipe deck.

To give things a nice, elegant touch, add a little green around your deck.

Green Thumb

Plants always help give things a cheery appearance, elevating the mood and doing what plants do, cleaning the air.  

The great thing about planter boxes is they bring the green to you.  You and your guests don’t have to walk out on the lawn to be in the middle of plants and green stuff.  All you need to do is put a few planter boxes on your deck, or in your gazebo, And of course, the best wood for building those is ipe.

Another advantage, is they let you exercise your green thumb, planting and pruning and weeding, all without having to get down on your knees.  Brazilian walnut makes having a thumb so much easier. Especially if you live in the city and green space is hard to come by.

Tough Enough

One of the other great things about building your planter boxes out of ipe, aka ironwood, is they can take anything.  

Ipe is such a solid wood that it’s going to stand up to whatever you throw at it.  If your kid is going a little too fast on the deck with his skateboard–even though you’ve told him a hundred times not to do it–and he hits one of your planter boxes, chances are he’ll be damaged more than the planter box.  

Waterproof Wood

Brazilian walnut is such a hard dense wood, that it’s one of the few kinds of wood on the planet that actually sinks when you put it in water.

When you’re working with water, there is always the worry about water damaging the wood of the planter box. Water too much, and you’ll rot the wood of the box from the inside.  Use oils and lacquers with the wood, and there is the chance of damage through off-gassing, or chemicals leaching into the plants.

Ipe takes all those worries away.  It’s dense nature also keeps moisture at bay, and it ages beautifully without using any chemicals.  To help with that, make sure you put gravel beneath the boxes to help the water drain easily. You won’t need to worry about rot by using Brazilian walnut.  Those planter boxes are going to last for years.

It’s a Snap

At Ipe Woods USA, our products are versatile.  Creating the perfect planter boxes is merely a matter of converting our ipe decking products for another use.  Planter boxes can be built easily by converting our ipe decking boards.

Planter boxes out of Brazilian walnut will keep your terrace, deck, and house surrounded by green to your heart’s content, and has everything you need to make your dream come true.


Lazin’ in the Shade

One of the great things about your yard, front or back, is being able to kick back in the shade and relax at the end of a long day, or on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon/evening.  

Do it out front, and you get the chance to say hi to the neighbors as they’re out working in the yard, walking by, or as you keep an eye on the kids as they explore the universe of their neighborhood and imaginations.

Or if you feel a little more private, kick back in your backyard, with a book, magazine and favorite beverage.  Or else just doze in the shade with some great tunes going, and enjoy the warm weather and sunshine.

Where are you going to get the shade?

If you have some mature trees, those are great. If you want to plant your own, you’ll be waiting a long time for it to grow enough to give you that shade you want.  The other option is to cheat and build your own shade.

The solution is a pergola made of Brazilian walnut, aka ipe.


The Sands of Time

These ancient shade makers have been making a come back. They actually go all the way back to ancient Egypt. With the temperatures there, those guys had to know how to make some shade.

Your typical pergola is tall with a lattice roof, that lets the breezes in to cool you down and gives you the shade you’re craving as well.


Standing the Test of Time

There are so many advantages to making your pergola out of ironwood.  As you may have guessed, that’s another name for ipe. And the reason for using is all in the name.

Ipe is the king of the hardwoods.  Its density means that it stands up rain and wind and sleet and snow.  Brazilian walnut is so dense that water doesn’t penetrate it. (It’s great for docks as well, and pool decking as well.)  So when the winter comes and it’s all covered by snow, or pelted with rain, there’s no need to worry about rot setting in.

Its hardness means that it stands up to the strongest winds as well.

Then you’ve got your munchers–nasty, wood pulverizing insects like termites and ant and all their related cousins.  Those little critters do more damage than hurricanes, earthquakes, and other assorted natural disasters combined. Ipe is so dense that it’s almost impossible for those creepy-crawlies to get an ant-sized mouthful.  

Your ironwood pergola will be standing there a long time.


Where does it go?

And the answer is pretty much anywhere you want.

You can do it as a stand-alone, as we already talked about.  Pour a concrete pad, up to the support beams your lattice roof, a couple hooks for the hammock, or some chairs and a table, and you’re in the relaxing business.  

Or else make it part of your back deck, or front porch.  

Wherever you put it, a lazy summer afternoon or evening is sure to follow.

Our House . . .


“. . . is a very, very, very fine house . . .” to quote Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young.  But for your place, it’s a perfect fit.  It’s beautiful and everyone says what wonders you’ve done with it.  You’re ready to step it up, but not quite sure what that next step is.

Right under your Feet

        You’ve upgraded everything else in your house, the only thing is to get rid of that carpet.   It’s getting a little threadbare, and the pads underneath are shot.  They simply must go.  

Nothing says class like hardwood floors. But, of course, you want the right hardwood for your floors.  There’s no sense is doing something that will have to be redone in a few short years.  Invest in a wood that’s going to last for a good long time, and look good that whole time.

The Best Choice

        Just like everything else in your house, you want the best investment for your money.  Something with durability that also manages to stay attractive.  

        To meet those qualifications, there is really only one option:  ipe flooring throughout your house.  Also known as Brazilian walnut, it’s one of the toughest woods you’ll ever find, with a janka hardness rating of 3,680 out of a possible 4,000.  No wonder they also call it ironwood. It can last up to 75 years.  You’ll be dead and buried before your ipe wood floors wear out.

        The kids could practically play hockey on your ipe floors and the damage would be minimal.  What’s better than that?

        Of course, we know you’d never do that.  If you want to insure that your floors last longer, feel free to place runners on the to absorb the worst of the foot traffic.

Tougher Than You Think

        The density makes it perfect to keep stay survive a lot of abuse, but there is even more to how durable and tough ipe is.

        That same density makes it functionally waterproof, which is why it’s such a good wood to use in building docks and boathouses.  The beauty is that if one of your horde of carpet rangers spills water or something on your ironwood floor and you don’t discover it for a couple of hours, there will be little damage if any.  And the chances are on the side of the no damage.

        Add to that its fire rating, which is the highest of any wood out there, and you’ve got a darn tough wood for your floors throughout the house.  


        For indoor uses, we recommend using a stain, to keep your ipe floors looking good as long as possible.  You’ll have to put it down once every 1-2 years.  Be careful not to use too much oil, or the wood will kick it back out and it can pool where that happens and it will become sticky.  To reduce wear, consider using runners and carpets in your most heavily used areas in the house.  Beyond that, the care is easy, a good mopping will keep the floor clean.  

        We at Ipe Woods USA have everything you’ll need for to make the inside of your house look as good as the outside.  We can also connect you to contractors in your area who can do the work for you.

Happy Fourth of July

We want to wish everyone a very happy 4th of July. America now has had 242 years of Independence, that is really something to celebrate.

Celebrating 242 Years of Independence

With USA in our name, you know we love the good ole U.S. of A. and appreciate the groundwork and sacrifice so that we may enjoy so many things. We also want to kindly remind everyone to be safe traveling and enjoying the festivities.

Patriotic holiday. Silhouettes of people holding the Flag of USA. America celebrate 4th of July.


Finishing Touches

Shopping for the right home is always a major undertaking.  You want the right neighborhood, a place close enough to work to get there quickly, and far enough that you can’t be pulled in at a whim.  You want a place that is safe for your kids but gives them all kinds of places to explore and play in the yard.

Getting It Just Right

Over the years you’ve improved the house:  invested in landscaping to make your yard a bright spot of color in the neighborhood, and all the neighbors are trying to catch up with you; you replaced your vinyl siding with wood siding–ipe siding, of course–and you put a beautiful ipe wood deck in the back.  

And you’ve done all this because you’re proud of your home, and want to have everything look just right. And it’s those finishing touches that make the difference.  

The Concept

In the clothing business, they call it “the Concept,” putting the proper finishing touches on an outfit.  When you buy a new car, you don’t want old tires on it, right? Or when you buy that brand-new suit, you don’t want to wear a worn, tattered, threadbare shirt and tie, but want something that makes your investment looking its best.  

And that’s what an ipe wood fence is doing for your house and your yard after all the other work and effort you’ve put into it,  you want everything to be perfect. You want the concept or look, to be complete.

Adding ipe fencing completes the concept,  tying it all together.

Also, by making the fence from Brazilian walnut–another name for ipe wood–you unify everything tying it all together, finishing it all and completing the concept.

The Best-Looking Place in the Neighborhood

Whether or not you’ve used ipe decking or ipe siding for the rest of your home improvements, an ipe fence just gives it that extra little touch of class, that says the people who live here care about their home and the neighborhood.  

They care enough to make sure their house has a beautiful fence that will last for years and years and not fall apart.  They care enough to install one of the most beautiful hardwoods on the planet. Ironwood, aka ipe wood, is a wood that will last forever.   Some studies say that it will last up 75 years.

You can rest easy knowing that your investment in your home will help increase the home’s value, and has made it the best-looking home in the whole neighborhood.

Ipe Woods USA wants to be your partner in this, working alongside from start to finish on whatever project you’re working on to improve your castle.  Visit us at We want to help you make your home the best-looking place in the neighborhood.