More and more homeowners are choosing to have their outdoor decks constructed with exotic, tropical, imported woods. This isn’t just a stylistic choice either—in many cases, these woods offer a lot of functional benefits in addition to a unique, aesthetically appealing look.
Two such woods are ipe and red balau. Let’s explore each wood and discuss why you might want to use one or the other for your outdoor wood deck.
Ipe (pronounced “Ee-pay”) has become quite popular in the past ten or so years, and for good reason. It’s a tropical hardwood from the rainforests of Brazil, and ipe decks have garnered so much attention stateside as a result of its beautiful appearance and extreme functionality.
The wood is very, very dense, and therefore it can last much longer than standard wood types when properly treated.
To give you an idea of how incredibly hard ipe wood decking is, the pieces will often come pre-grooved for hidden fasteners before your contractor installs the deck. While technically an exaggeration, the wood has often been compared to steel and called ironwood.
There are some other benefits of having an ipe deck to consider as well:
Red balau, comes from the tropical rainforests in Malaysia and is another very dense wood that’s become popular in recent years due to its extreme durability and attractive price.
Red balau is often compared to teak with the exception that balau is much cheaper and much more durable. Balau is often used in projects which require wood to be resistant to water, like bridges or watercraft ramps and boat docks.
Since red balau is a naturally oily wood, it must be properly sealed with oil, otherwise it can dry out and/or absorb spills quite easily. Modern sealants do a good job of protecting the wood but when the wood density it needs to be reapplied often. Red balau decking construction is a great option for homeowners looking to extend their living to the outdoors.
Also like ipe, properly sealed balau is highly resistant to scratching and scuffing. The density of the wood also helps prevent infestations from wood pests, weather damage, and mold.
Decking made of balau also offers homeowners a considerable range of appearance options, as the color of the wood can range from a pale off white to a dark brown, depending on species. The grain is generally coarse and beautiful when finished.
Even though ipe and red balau woods are both imported and shipped in from Brazil and Southeast Asia, respectively these woods are surprisingly affordable. Homeowners looking to improve the value of their property with an affordable investment should be aware that installing an outdoor wood deck is one of the most cost effective ways of raising a home’s value, not to mention it provides an added extension to the outdoors.
High density woods are becoming more popular for their longevity, strength, and comparatively low-maintenance needs. Replacing properly treated ipe or balau as a result of pests or weather damage is practically unheard of.
Whether you decide to go with ipe or balau for your outdoor decking project is largely a matter of preference and current wood pricing. Either of these fine imported tropical woods will serve as an excellent long-term investment into the value of your home.