There’s a lot of talk about which decking material can stand the test of time, the elements, and possible accidents that could cause a fire. The truth is, that only one decking material, far outperforms pressure treated decking, composite decking, and most other wood decking materials; ipe decking.
While it’s nice to sit here and tell you that ipe decking is the best out there, period, savvy homeowners need to know that there are actual facts behind all the hype. Specifically, there have been major studies and scientific research conducted on the merits of ipe wood. These tests have concluded that ipe wood is, in fact, as good as billed and lives up to its reputation as one of the premium wood decking options available to homeowners today.
Three major tests that prove ipe (aka Brazilian Walnut) is the best decking material to choose come from:
The US Naval Laboratory
The National Fire Protection Agency
The Janka Hardness Test
When the US Naval Laboratory tested ipe, they found out that a board of ipe wood can be placed in the ground totally open to the elements for 15 years before it termites would even attempt to infest it. In addition, they also found out that ipe decking was extremely resilient. And that mold, mildew, and fungus had a hard time developing on the wood.
When it comes to the element of fire, ipe decking also receives high marks. In fact, The National Fire Protection Agency awarded ipe hardwood a Class A rating when it comes to how it handles fire spread. Why is this important? Suppose your dog knocked over your charcoal grill and all the briquettes spilled onto your deck. If your deck was made of ipe, the fire would have a better chance of remaining contained to the spot(s) where it landed. Compared to cheap composite decking or an inferior wood, the fire would not spread so fast and you would have a better chance of putting it out faster. This Class A fire rating for wood is exceptional because both steel and concrete also have the same rating from the NFPA!
The last test that people looking to start a home improvement project or deck building project need to be aware of is how ipe rates on the Janka Hardness test. This test measures how much force is required to force a small steel ball into various woods. The Janka Hardness test is significant if you are comparing ipe decking to California redwood, pressure treated decking, cedar decking, and even teak. This results of this test highlight that ipe is one of the hardest woods that nature offers. Here are the results of the Janka Hardness Scale for those four previously mentioned species: ipe is three times stronger than teak. Ipe’s Janka Hardness is 3600 lbs; while teak’s is only 1050 lbs. Pressure treated pine has a Janka hardness of 690 lbs. The Janka Hardness of cedar decking is 900. And in a result sure to shock any homeowner who thought redwood was an extremely hard decking material, California redwood has a hardness rating of only 480 lbs.
Clearly, with these scientific tests and results in mind, you can shop with confidence in knowing that ipe decking is, by far, an exotic hardwood that lives up to the hype and is the most durable decking you can buy. When you need decking that will stand up to the elements, time, and everything else in between, ipe decking is your best choice.