Cumaru Decking vs. Ipe Decking

Choosing the best wood for decking can be difficult as there are several options available. Cumaru wood and Ipe wood are two excellent choices for decking and outdoor applications.

Cumaru wood (Dipteryx Odorata), also known as Brazilian Teak, is a species of flowering tree that belongs to the ‘Fabaceae family. It is native to northern South America and Central America. These trees can grow up to 160 feet tall and short life expectancy.

Ipe wood (Handroanthus) can also be called Poui and is a genus of flowering plants that belong to the ‘Bignoniaceae’ family. It is native to Central America and South America. These trees can grow up to 130 feet tall and last for up to seventy-five years.

Now that you have narrowed your choices down to Cumaru and Ipe, you should be aware of their differences and similarities. One significant difference between both wood choices is that Cumaru has a coarse grain while Ipe is fine-grained.

Cumaru vs Ipe

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DescriptionCumaru WoodIpe Wood
Wood typeCumaru is a hardwood.Ipe is a hardwood.
ColorThe heartwood color is usually dark brown with purple and red hues. The sapwood color is yellowish-brown.The heartwood color ranges from reddish-brown to a dark rich brown with amber and red hues. The sapwood color is yellowish-white.
GrainCumaru wood has an irregular, interlocked grain with a coarse (medium) texture.Ipe wood has a fine texture with a sometimes straight and sometimes irregular grain.
DensityCumaru is a very dense wood, though not as thick as Ipe wood. It has a density of 1,085 kg/m3.Ipe is a highly dense hardwood. It has a density of 1,100 kg/m3. It shares the same fire rating as steel and concrete.
Allergies/toxicityWorking with Cumaru wood causes no allergies and toxicity.Working with Ipe wood is known to cause eye irritation, vision problems, headaches, and skin and respiratory irritation.
WorkabilityCumaru wood is also challenging to work with because of its interlocked grain. It does not take glue, screws, or nails well.Due to its high hardness and density, it isn’t easy to work with Ipe wood. It has a strong cutting resistance during sawing and woodwork. Lastly, it is capable of blunting tools.
SizeCumaru trees can grow up to 130 to 160 feet and have a 3 to 5 feet trunk diameter.Ipe trees can grow up to 100 to 130 feet and have a trunk diameter of 2 to 4 feet.

Cumaru Decking or Ipe Decking

Cumaru wood has all the durability properties that make a decking long-lasting. Still, at the same time, you cannot compare it to Ipe wood which is usually seen as the standard and the perfect choice for wood decking because of its strength and durability.

Due to the wood’s very high density, Ipe decking will last longer than most. As it is one of the strongest woods globally, stability is guaranteed, making it the go-to choice for high-end decks. Let us not forget its class A fire rating and natural resistance to rot, decay, and water. Cumaru wood is also a great choice for wood decking; it is highly scratch-resistant, which means that they are perfect for high-traffic areas. It is also naturally resistant to decay and insect damage, assuring longevity. Unfortunately, it is prone to cupping and can not be used in areas with water.

Differences between Cumaru Wood and Ipe Wood

Two significant differences that should be considered when choosing between Cumaru wood and Ipe wood for decking are strength and durability. They are further explained below.

Strength

Strength is an essential factor to consider when choosing wood for your decking. The stronger the wood, the sturdier the decking would be and the longer it lasts. When selecting wood for decking, it is advisable to choose one with a Janka hardness rating of over 1,000 lbs to get the best results.

Both Cumaru and Ipe wood are considerably strong and dense, but Ipe wood has the upper hand as it is one of the ten hardest kinds of wood. Ipe wood has one of the highest Janka hardness ratings making it the best choice for decking. Due to its high level of strength, it isn’t easy to work with.

Cumaru wood has a Janka hardness of 14,800 N (3,340 lbs) and crushing strength of 95.5 MPa, while Ipe wood has a Janka hardness of 15,620 N (3,680 lbs) and crushing strength of 93.8 MPa.

Through these figures, we can see that Ipe wood is harder than Cumaru wood, while Cumaru wood has a slightly higher crushing strength than Ipe wood. Ipe is, therefore, heavier and stronger than Cumaru.

Durability

When choosing wood for your decking, the most crucial factor to consider is its durability properties. It would be best if you asked yourself questions like; how long is this wood going to last. Is it suitable for outdoor purposes? Will I be getting my money’s worth? Cumaru wood is great for decking, but nothing compared to Ipe. 

Cumaru wood is said to last for over fifty years, and it has a lot of excellent durability properties:

  1. This wood has high resistance against rot and decay, perfect for outdoor applications.
  2. It is resistant to termites and insect damage.
  3. Cumaru wood has excellent weather resistance. 

Ipe wood is said to be more durable than most hardwoods. Unlike most woods, it has excellent fire resistance, sharing the same fire rating as steel and concrete. It also has excellent resistance to rot, insect damage, weather, and abrasion. It contains natural oils which preserve it and enable its applications to last for more than fifty years.  Both wood choices are highly durable for outdoor decking purposes because of their tremendous natural resistance to rot, decay, and weather. This means you can expect them to last for a long time; a Cumaru decking is likely to last for up to 25 years without replacement, and an Ipe decking will last for up to 50 years without replacement.

Similarities between Cumaru Wood and Ipe Wood

South American Timbers

The similarities between Cumaru wood and Ipe wood are not very plenty. One major thing they have in common is that they are both South American timbers. Both wood choices are native to South America; they share some properties that make it difficult to distinguish them. Due to their similar colors, it can be hard to distinguish Cumaru from Ipe wood visually.

Wood Type

Cumaru wood and Ipe wood are hardwoods; they come from angiosperm trees and are woods from dicot trees. Hardwood trees are said to have a higher density than softwood trees.

Hardwood trees are a much better choice for wood decking because of their durability, ensuring they last for a long time. Apart from this advantage, hardwood decks are easily customizable and highly resistant to rot, decay, warping, and flames.

Conclusion

Cumaru wood and Ipe wood are excellent choices for your project. They both have excellent resistance to rot, weather, decay, and insect damage. The only significant difference is that the latter is harder and will last longer than the former. Lastly, they are perfect for indoor and outdoor decking.

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