If you have been researching decking, you probably now know that there is softwood decking and hardwood decking. Softwood decking includes pine, cedar, and redwood. Softwoods require some maintenance to keep it looking new and to preserve its longevity.

The most popular hardwood decking choices include Ipe, Cumaru, Garapa, Cambara, and Machiche. Keep in mind that because wood is a natural product, there will be color and grain variations within each species. These hardwood decking selections have become so prevalent because of their durability, strength, longevity, and performance. Softwood decking cannot even come close to competing. You may still be wondering which hardwood decking option is the best for you!

Ipe Hardwood Decking

This is the most popular. Ipe is fire resistant, scratch resistant, slip resistant, has dimensional stability, and lasts for years. Ipe is used for the traditional suburban deck and for boardwalks on lakes and oceans.

It has a fine grain pattern and comes in a variety of brown tones. Hence its nickname “Brazilian Walnut”. It does have a high price point, but it is well worth it in functionality and aesthetics. 

Cumaru Hardwood Decking

Cumaru, also known as “Brazilian Teak”, has many of the desired characteristics that Ipe has. It is very durable, but is not equal to Ipe. It is the next best choice when your budget does not support Ipe.

Cumaru comes in lighter browns with and without a reddish tint. It is coarsely grained and has a very exotic appearance. Cumaru does have a lot of variation, so if you are trying to get an extremely uniform look it may not be for you.

Machiche Hardwood Decking

This handsome hardwood decking is very similar to Cumaru. Machiche also goes by the name “Mayan Mahogany”. It also comes in light to medium browns but with a more chocolate tone. It is very tough and class A fire rated. It can withstand a lot of traffic and wear and tear.

hardwood decking

Garapa Hardwood Decking

Garapa, otherwise known as “Brazilian Ash”, is in a class all its own. It has a very fine grain and comes in golden tones from ash to honey. Although it is not as hard as Ipe, Garapa it is still 50% harder than most softwood decking.

It is good for lower traffic areas like rooftop decks or lightly used residential decks. Garapa is a great choice when a natural look is the goal versus a stained and uniform finish. 

Cambara Hardwood Decking

Cambara looks just like Mahogany and is not as durable as the other hardwood decking options. Therefore, it performs best when stained or sealed. It is best used in areas that have only partial exposure to the elements like covered porches, verandas, and gazebos. It is one of the more affordable hardwood decking options if you are on a tight budget.

Things to Keep In Mind for Hardwood Decking:

Overall, hardwood decking is pricier and has some special considerations:

  • There are no grading standards, so you are at the mercy of the inventory that your lumberyard has. Look for clear boards that have little to no defect.
  • Because hardwood decking is hard, installation takes longer. It can wreak havoc on drill bits and saw blades slowing things down.
  • Hardwood decking is not heat resistant and because it is all darker in color this cannot be avoided. So, consider adding some coverage out of the sun and beware of bare feet.
  • If you want to keep the exotic look of your hardwood deck, you are going to have to oil it, stain it, and/or seal it to prevent fading and greying.

Even though hardwood decking has some nuisances, it is well worth it. A finished hardwood deck exudes class and elegance that will wow friends, family, and guests!