Hardwood decking is the perfect choice for the customer who wants natural beauty and durability and knows that quality has a price. Tropical decking is another term used because most of the options come from the tropics.
Now let’s see how it stacks up to the competition in COST, LIFETIME and LOOK and FEEL.
FIRST COST $$$
Tropical hardwoods can be quite pricey. They make a long trip to get here, and are in demand for their beauty. Installation is usually a little more involved as well because the wood is so hard, and it is important to build a frame that will last as long as the wood.
TRUE COST $$$
The cost of maintenance depends on how you like the look of aged tropicals. It naturally weathers to a silvery gray that can be quite beautiful. However, if you want to preserve that clean dark coloring, it will require regular oiling or staining.
Tropical hardwoods are commonly used for piers and docks in the tropics and can last in that environment for literally a century. I think they’ll be ok in your backyard until long after you have moved on.
It will require maintenance to stay beautiful, but what’s a little maintenance when you see that beautiful grain shine through?
LOOK AND FEEL
In my opinion (and I’m not alone), this is the most beautiful of all the decking options. A dense, strong look to it that is unparalleled.
The hardness of this wood makes it very dimensionally stable. This means you don’t have to worry about the shrinking, warping, splitting and splintering that the softwoods deal with. It is soft on the feet.
HARDWOOD DECKING TYPES
There are quite a few wood species that work well for decks. The most popular include:
- Ipe This is by far the most popular. It is one of the hardest woods on the planet, and has the same fire rating as concrete! Durability is not a problem. And its tight dark grain makes for a beautiful finish.
- Cumaru This is also known as Brazilian Teak. It must be kiln dried before being used as a decking product, so it isn’t quite as stable, but is usually priced a little better than Ipe.
- Tigerwood Has a striking brownish orange color with beautiful dark stripes (hence the name). It requires kiln drying, but is used frequently for decking.
- Massaranduba This is known as Brazilian Redwood or Bullet Wood. It is not quite as hard as Ipe, but has a beautiful deep red coloring. It is not as popular in this part of the country.
- Garapa This is known as Brazilian Oak. It is very dense and has a unique yellow coloring that can create quite a nice feel.
- Cambara This is known as Brazilian Mahogany, and has very similar open grain and red-brown coloring. It is less dense and hard than some of the other alternatives, but is still a great alternative to treated or cedar.