Ipe Decking vs. TimberTech: Choose Sustainable Composite Decking

February 4, 2020
HomeOutdoor Living IdeasIpe Decking vs. TimberTech: Choose Sustainable Composite Decking

Let’s talk about Ipe — a Brazilian lumber that is one of the most sought-after materials for premium hardwood decks. But does premium hardwood actually translate to premium performance? We sought to find out by comparing Ipe decking to TimberTech® capped polymer and capped composite decking across categories such as weathering, cost, and sustainability.

What Is Ipe?

Ipe (pronounced “ee-pay”) is a Brazilian hardwood well-known for its beautiful brown and amber tones, as well as its impressive density. For these reasons, Ipe continues to be one of the most sought-after hardwoods for decking — and one of the priciest. Beneath the surface of positive-sounding claims — a purported 20-year life, a gorgeous look, and a natural resistance to fungus given the tight grain pattern — the reality of Ipe is more complicated.

To give you the full story of Ipe, we compared the hardwood against two of our lines with similar color and pattern options — TimberTech AZEK® Vintage Collection®.

There are three major categories we assessed for this comparison: weathering, cost, and sustainability. Below, we compare Ipe hardwood to the capped polymer deck boards in our Vintage line across all three.

Weathering: IPE vs. Vintage

Ipe Decking

Rich Wood Color That Fades Fast

Ipe decking looks attractive at first, but its rich color soon fades to a worn gray hue. Keeping the original color will mean costly staining and cleaning.

Just look at what only six months of weathering does to Ipe.

Ipe fade comparison
Ipe control on the left and test sample on the right after six months of weathering outside.
Susceptible to Mold & Mildew

Ipe decking may have a tight grain pattern that resists fungus compared to traditional wood, but it’s still susceptible to weathering, mold, and mildew.

Ipe control sample comparison
Ipe control on the left and test sample on the right after contact test.
Is Susceptible to Cracking & Splitting

As an organic hardwood, Ipe will eventually crack and warp.

Ipe Decking Weathering Close Up
Ipe will weather and fade over time, showing cracks and requiring regular staining.
At the Mercy of Environmental Whims

Ipe has to acclimate to its environment. Then, even once acclimated, Ipe is still sensitive to mold, mildew, buckling, and other performance issues. 

Weathering soon turns Ipe decking to a dull gray and means costly maintenance.

TimberTech Decking

Rich Wood Color That Endures

Unlike Ipe, TimberTech capped polymer decking can weather the storm. That’s why TimberTech AZEK decking comes with a 50-Year Fade & Stain Warranty.

TimberTech AZEK decking looks the same after six months.

TimberTech AZEK Vintage Mahogany Comparison
Ipe control on the left and test sample on the right after six months of weathering outside.
Protected from Mold & Mildew

Our Alloy Armor Technology® provides advanced resistance to fading and weathering from the elements, and mold and mildew from moisture.

TimberTech AZEK control image
TimberTech AZEK control on the left and test sample on the right after contact test.
TimberTech Performs So You Don’t Have to Worry About Cracking & Splitting

Our innovative composite decking stays resistant to cracking and warping, so you can enjoy your deck instead of maintain it.

Ipe Decking TimberTech AZEK Vintage Collection Mahogany Rooftop deck
The TimberTech AZEK line stays vibrant and resists cracking.
Ready to Weather the Storm

UV rays, precipitation and environment won’t cause TimberTech decking to show signs of weathering. From day one, your TimberTech deck will look gorgeous and deliver durability for decades.

Cost: IPE vs. Vintage

Ipe Decking

Needs Budget- & Back-Breaking Maintenance

The associated upfront costs for Ipe decking are about the same as those for capped polymer decking. But over time, Ipe can’t hold up, cracking and fading. Expect regular and costly washing/staining.

Pressure-Washer-Sewer-Jetter-Attachment
Ipe deck boards discolor and fade, meaning you will have to wash (potentially with a pressure-washer, shown above), stain, and seal your deck regularly.

TimberTech Decking

Enduring Beauty With Almost No Maintenance

Unlike traditional hardwood decks like Ipe, TimberTech decking doesn’t require staining, sealing, or power-washing. At TimberTech, we believe your deck should be enjoyed, not maintained.

TimberTech AZEK Vintage Collection decking in English Walnut™. You never need to invest in renting pressure-washers, buying deck stain, or sanding down your capped polymer deck.

For a more in-depth breakdown of both the upfront and long-term costs associated with Ipe decking vs. TimberTech, see the graphs below, then read about the average cost of composite deck boards.

Upfront Cost to Build a Deck

Ipe Premium Hardwood vs. AZEK Vintage Boards

Upfront cost comparison between Ipe wood and TimberTech AZEK decking
NOTE: The estimated average cost of capped polymer deck boards and Ipe hardwood decking costs are based on the national average for a 16’ x 20’ deck. Meant for visual representation only. Actual costs may vary.

Costs Over 10 Years

Ipe Premium Hardwood vs. TimberTech AZEK Vintage Boards

Cost comparison infographic over 10 years between Ipe and TimberTech AZEK
NOTE: The estimated average cost of capped polymer deck boards and Ipe hardwood decking costs are based on the national average for a 16’ x 20’ deck. Meant for visual representation only. Actual costs may vary.

Sustainability: IPE vs. Vintage

Ipe Decking

Threatening the Amazon Rainforest
ipe decking rain forest deforestation

Ipe is harvested from South America’s Amazon Region, and because of its high demand globally, Ipe is especially prone to illegal logging practices. The demand for this hardwood makes Ipe deforestation all the more likely as time goes on.

TimberTech Decking

The Sustainable Choice
Composite decking comparison of TimberTech vs Trex

Our sustainable TimberTech AZEK line is made of up to 54% recycled material.

What’s more, no trees are harvested to make our capped polymer decking — we’ve saved 1 million trees since 2015. What’s more: 

  • Up to 98% of our internal scrap is reused
  • 290 million pounds of waste and scrap was diverted from landfills in 2019
  • Our closed-loop water filtration system recycles up to 96% of water used annually.

Choosing TimberTech means making the right choice for both your home, and our shared home: the Earth.

NOTE: The estimated average cost of capped polymer deck boards and Ipe hardwood decking costs are based on the national average for a 16’ x 20’ deck. Meant for visual representation only. Actual costs may vary.

See & Feel the TimberTech Advantage

Our capped polymer and capped composite decking lines combine recycled material with all the beauty of traditional wood.

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