We recently designed a house in which the homeowner is considering both Ipe wood and composite decking for the exterior decks. Ipe is one of the strongest and most durable wood decking materials available due to its extremely dense grain. When left untreated, Ipe wood decking can last up to 40 years. With a deck oil finish application, it can last up to 100 years. Composite decking, a mixture of recycled plastic and wood, is smoother than real wood and typically won’t splinter or warp. It can also bend to make curves and patterns not possible with real wood.
Although composite decking is a much more environmentally friendly choice, it can delaminate in as little as 2 to 3 years and is not as slip-resistant as real wood. However, composite decking does not need to be treated or stained. The downsides of Ipe are the high initial costs, and the overall lack of sustainable qualities, although they do offer an eco-friendly option that has been responsibly cultivated and harvested.
When comparing costs, Ipe averages around the same cost per linear foot as composite decking, if not a little higher. With Ipe, you are paying for its durability and overall look. With composite decking you are paying for its sustainable qualities and low-maintenance.