If you’ve done much research into building a deck, you’ve probably run across mentions of ipe wood. Ipe has become the gold standard for decks due to its incredible density and resistance to wear and tear. But ipe is expensive; what if you could have the gold standard for less?
Garapa wood is the literal gold alternative to ipe wood. This lighter Brazilian hardwood provides all the benefits of ipe with a much lower price tag. Read on to discover why you should look at garapa wood decking for your next home improvement project.
What Is Garapa Wood?
Garapa wood comes from a tree native to South America and makes an excellent option for wood decks. The tree can grow up to a hundred feet tall and five feet in diameter and tends to grow fairly straight. This means that garapa wood has a straight grain with minimal variations.
One of the more beautiful features of garapa wood is its chatoyant quality. This is the same quality you see in cat-eye gems, where there appears to be a shifting band of light under the surface of the wood that moves as you move your head. The wood glues and finishes well and is reasonably easy to work with.
Garapa vs. Ipe
When you start looking at tropical hardwood decking material, generally you come up with two varieties: garapa and ipe. Ipe, pronounced “e-pay” and also known as Brazilian walnut, is an extremely hard tropical wood option. It’s about five times as hard as pressure-treated wood, and it has a gorgeous dark color.
But ipe wood comes at a high price; building a 10’x10’ deck from ipe deck tiles would cost you a little under $1,000 in material alone. Garapa wood, by contrast, is a little more affordable and is comparable in terms of density and hardness. Garapa has a minimum 25-year lifespan as a deck material, and ipe offers at least 40 years.
Garapa wood is the number one price-conscious alternative to ipe wood for decking. Compared to other hardwoods, it is on the higher end of the price scale. Garapa is more expensive than mahogany or cedar, but it offers benefits neither of those woods do.
Garapa wood can run around $1.58 per linear foot for 1×4. So let’s say you’re building that 10’x10’ deck out of garapa 1×4; you’re going to need about 300 linear feet of material. That’ll run you a little under $500, about half the cost of building your deck out of the ipe deck tiles.
One of the big attractions of garapa wood is its light color. Garapa wood is blonde, much lighter than ipe wood and many other popular deck woods. It ages to a lovely silver color over time, but new, it’s a rich, honey color.
Architects have come to value this light wood color over a dark deck in many cases. It makes for a much less visually heavy addition to the house, which can help it blend with a variety of styles. If you have a white house or light brick exterior, a garapa wood deck can help keep things light and elegant.
One of the major draws of garapa wood is its outstanding durability. Like ipe wood, garapa wood is extraordinarily dense, making it highly resistant to rot. If you want to preserve the golden color, you may want to seal it, but you won’t need to seal it for durability reasons.
Garapa wood is also resistant to pest damage, so you’ll never need to worry about termites or carpenter ants boring into it. If you have a pool in your back yard, you’ll also love garapa’s resistance to rot. The grain is so tight that nothing can penetrate it, helping it to last for decades.
Whether you live somewhere where wildfires are a concern or you just want to have barbeques on your deck, you want a deck wood that has a good fire rating. You don’t want to have to worry about hot coal falling on the deck and setting the whole thing on fire. Luckily, garapa wood has an astounding fire rating.
Garapa wood comes with a great fire rating, so good usually only awarded to inorganic material.
Many decks, especially ones not made from hardwood, require refinishing from time to time. This can be a problem since it means sanding down the whole deck, staining it, and resealing it. But garapa wood will stay in good shape with minimal care for decades.
Because garapa wood is so dense, it won’t wear down and absorb dirt in the same way as other woods. In fact, once you finish it once, it will be good to go for a number of years to come. But because it’s so dense, it may have a hard time absorbing some oil-based finishes; always test them on a small non-visible area first.
Learn More About Garapa Wood Decking
If you want the durability and luxury of a Brazilian hardwood deck without the price tag of ipe wood, garapa wood decking is a great option. It is, for all intents and purposes, just as sturdy as ipe wood, but it comes at a much more reasonable price. Plus the gorgeous honey color will make for a beautiful addition to your home.
If you’d like to find the best garapa wood decking, check out the rest of our site at Ipe Woods USA. We offer ipe and garapa wood decking, as well as a number of other imported hardwood options. Check out our decking options to find the right wood for your deck project today.