Sustainability

Ipe Decking vs. TimberTech Composite Decking

February 4, 2020

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.

Will Show Scratches & Offers No Slip Resistance

As an organic hardwood, Ipe will eventually crack and warp. Plus, Ipe offers no slip resistance, so buildups of mud or water on the deck boards can lead to falls. 

distressedwoodresize

Ipe will weather and fade over time, showing scratches and offering no slip resistance.

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.

With six months of weathering, TimberTech AZEK decking looks the same.

TimberTech AZEK Vintage Mahogany Comparison

TimberTech AZEK 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.

Scratches Don't Show & More Traction Means Fewer Falls

Our innovative composite decking stays resistant to scratches and TimberTech AZEK decking offers up to 40% better slip resistance than the competition. 

ipe decking timbertech pro legacy tigerwood 1

The TimberTech AZEK line stays vibrant, resists scratches, and increases traction for fewer slips.

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

Ipe Means 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. 

ipe split

Ipe deck board shown splitting with face fastening.

TimberTech Decking

TimberTech Promises 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.  

tt azek coastline fastening

TimberTech AZEK deck board shown with face fastening.

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 to build a deck ipe premium hardwood vs. azek vintage boards start your journey v2

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. AZEK Vintage Boards

Costs after 10 years Ipe Premium Hardwood vs TimberTech AZEK

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 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. 

ipe decking rain forest deforestation

Timbertech Decking

The Sustainable Choice

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 2015What’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 

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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