While there’s a lot to love about Ipe decking, it isn’t always practical for a customer’s budget. And sometimes availability can be an issue as well. Among other comparable species, we’re inviting you to consider whether Jatoba might be a good alternative option for your next decking project. So far we’ve compared Jatoba with Ipe when it comes to hardness, stability, and stiffness (see Parts 1 & 2). Now we’ll round out the lumber specifications with a consideration of their comparative weight followed by a couple other significant reasons why some of our customers prefer Jatoba over Ipe.
Jatoba is a pretty heavy species at 57 pounds per cubic foot, but Ipe is definitely heavier at 62 pounds. Does weight make a difference when it comes to decking lumber? Of course you need to consider loads when you’re designing a deck; that’s a given. But practically, does it make a difference whether you use a heavier species or a lighter one? Well, once the deck has been built, it really won’t matter all that much. But during the shipping and installation process, you might be glad you chose the lighter species. It might also save you time and money in labor costs.
After looking at the above specifications, you might be thinking that Jatoba looks pretty decent, but if Ipe’s numbers are better than that of Jatoba, you don’t see a reason not to go with Ipe, as long as it’s available. Fair enough. But when it comes to cost comparison, you might start thinking a little more seriously about Jatoba. Because of the lower demand for Jatoba, it currently comes in at about 30% less than Ipe. Think about what that would mean for your entire decking project! What else could you afford to do for the amount of money you’d be saving?
To be fair, when we’re comparing Jatoba with Ipe, it’s not completely an apples-to-apples comparison. An added benefit of Jatoba is that it can blend indoor spaces with outdoor ones, given the species’ popularity for interior applications. But a pretty big detractor, at least at present, is that sourcing a variety of sizes of Jatoba can be difficult. J. Gibson McIlvain Lumber has no trouble sourcing a virtually unlimited number of 5/4 by 6 Jatoba decking boards; but if you want Jatoba in sizes to allow you to build other aspects of your deck from this same species — think stringers, joists, balusters, posts — you’ll be, unfortunately, out of luck.
As time goes by though, any exterior lumber species will turn a silvery gray, unless you maintain it with decking oil. If you wish to preserve the original color of your decking lumber, your choice between Ipe and Jatoba boils down to aesthetics, meaning which color you prefer.