Decking is one of the most popular home improvements a homeowner can make and 85% of homeowners on average will actually add one or more in the lifetime of their purchase. The deck boards are a very important part of the decision making process for this project with many choices now available. In the past the choice had predominately been pressure treated pine but now with new technology the choices are abundant. Let’s take a look at several wood decks and the reasons for and against them.
Cedar Decking, Pine Decking Or Ipe Decking & Why
Pine has been a popular choice for many reasons. Readily available, this wood is pressure treated to ensure insect control and resistance to decay. Earth friendly properties of this wood include the fact it produces less energy and air/water pollution than other building materials. Pine is four times stronger than plastic and is fairly easy to install with no special tools required. Southern pine is comfortable under foot when the sun is out compared to the blistering temperature of many composite or artificial decks. The drawbacks of course are the chemical outpetrol and replacement of this deck is usually 10-15 years if annually maintained.
Cedar has gained popularity due to its density and rich warm tones.
This decking requires no chemical treatment for insect resistance. The price is about twice that of pressure treated lumber and also widely used. This deck requires stainless steel screws but no pre-drilling. Lifetime is about 9-20 years with regular maintenance, must purchase clear grade. The wood properties are equally earth friendly as the pine decks. You can span more board in cedar than you can in a composite deck board due to strength. The downAutumn is it may still be too soft for outdoor application and the clear grade is very pricey to purchase.
Ipe has a growing demand mainly due to it’s strength, it has a janka hardness of 3680 compared to Cedar at 350.
This gives you an idea of just how hard this exotic hardwood is. Ipe also known as Ironwood is originally from South America, Central America and parts of the Caribbean. This hardwood has been used in many commercial applications such as the boardwalk in Miami for its resiliency and longevity. Naturally resistant to insects, mould, fungus and decay, Ipe also has a fire spread rating same as concrete. Lifetime of this material is over 40 years with no treatment. If you apply a UV inhibitor to this deck you can get over 100 year life expectancy. This deck will require very little maintenance and you and your future generations can actually enjoy more time entertaining and relaxing and less time maintaining your deck area. This wood product provides all the same benefits as above plus more. The cost is also more than pressure treated lumber and this board does have to be predrilled due to the density of the board but the longevity will more than make up for the initial labor as you will not have to remove and reinstall a new deck in 10 -15 years.
Compare Cedar Deck to Ipe Decking
When it comes to decking, both cedar decking and ipe wood are very popular choices. However, when it comes to long term sustainability, appeal, and value, nothing compares to ipe decking.
The reasons for this can be found in the hardwood themselves. Ipe lumber is denser than Cedar decking. This density is very important to take note of. Because ipe wood is extremely dense, an ipe deck will be more resistant to mould, mildew, rot and decay. On the other hand, cedar wood is much softer than ipe. To prove this, all you have to do is compare the Janka Hardness scale. Basically the Janka Hardness measures the force that is necessary to penetrate a piece of wood decking. When comparing cedar to ipe, you will find that the Janka Hardness of Cedar is significantly lower than that of ipe. This is important because your deck ages, gets used, and is subject to the elements, a cedar deck will show more wear than an ipe deck.
You should also know that cedar can show knots, imperfections, and without proper maintenance will perform poorly over time. However, ipe wood, thanks again to its extreme density look better and less worn over time. Of course, it’s a good idea to use proper decking oil for the first and second year and, depending on the environment, you may be able to treat your ipe deck every other year. Cedar, on the other hand requires increased maintenance and more attention because it is softer and subject to common problems found with mediocre decking.
When you compare the look of ipe to cedar, you have to consider the future. Cedar can often turn from that welcoming and rustic red-reddish-brown to a greyish and sometimes darker look. On the contrary, ipe wood, if left untreated will age gracefully to a silver-like patina.
Another reason why ipe decks are a better choice is because, when it comes to insect and decay resistance, by far, ipe is vastly superior. Mould, mildew, and insects like termites have a much easier time thriving on cedar sapwood and some less than acceptable heartwood. However, due to the natural oils and dense nature of this premium hardwood, an ipe deck more naturally resistant to those common decking problems.
Ultimately, for many people, the bottom line is important. Yes, cedar is generally cheaper than ipe. But, as the old saying goes, “You get what you pay for.” Over time, the return on investment of cedar deteriorates just like the wood does. Ipe decking on the other hand has a much greater return on your investment because of less maintenance and treatments. Also, the likelihood that you’ll have to significantly repair or totally replace a cedar deck is much greater than if you spent the time to invest in ipe decking.
By far, when you take into consideration the facts, ipe wood is better than cedar wood. Of course, you must always work with a professional deck builder and lumber company before you move ahead with your deck building plans. Best of luck building the deck of your dreams!