Best Wood for Outdoor Use

Do you have an outdoor project you want to build and want the best wood for outdoor use?

When most people think about exterior grade wood they think of pressure treated pine and cedar. Both of these woods require annual maintenance with a water sealer that will peel off.

How about a wood that…

Won’t rot, won’t leave you scraping, sanding and sealing every year and can last 75+ years outdoors.

There are several Exotic lumber species that hold up outdoors better than Teak, are more attractive looking than Teak and are significantly cheaper as well.

These species are Ipe, Cumaru, Tigerwood, Garapa and Massaranduba

These wood species have proven to last up to 75+ years outdoors with very little maintenance on commercial applications such as the Coney Island Boardwalk.

In addition these wood species are:

  • One of the strongest woods in the world
  • Environmentally friendly
  • Low maintenance
  • Up to a Class A fire rating for flame spread
  • Termite, Mold & Fungi resistant
  • Safe to walk on barefoot
  • High scratch & slip resistance
  • Can outlast composite material
  • Twice as strong as Oak
  • Time proven on many commercial projects
  • More durable than teak
  • Great for decks, docks, gazebos, benches, tables, siding, fencing
  • Comparably priced with composite decking choices
  • Not hot to walk on like composite material

Check out these projects built with these durable species of outdoor wood

334 thoughts on “Best Wood for Outdoor Use”

  1. Thank you for helping me learn more about which wood is better for outdoor decks. I like how you said that Tigerwood is one that will last a long time. My husband and I are thinking of building a deck.

  2. These are great reasons for using a wood like ipe for outdoor projects. It is an opportunity to bring furniture quality wood to an outdoor project at a reasonable cost.

  3. I’d like to see a photo of ipe’s natural look after a few years of weathering without a finish. Does it maintain color or does it go grey?

  4. Thank you so much for the thorough information regarding exotic hardwoods. We are very interested in finishing our large covered porch in Ipe, and these blog posts are really helpful.

  5. I have always used cedar and was fairly happy. Even considered going with “fake” wood (not to be confused with fake news). After checking all of this out, I would look at Ipe or Tigerwood. Either way, my preference is real wood. Thank you all for the insights, comments, and pictures. Too many ideas.

  6. We have two giant redwood decks at our house on the California coast . After nearly 50 years we are replacing them with Ipe.

  7. Installed Ipe on my back porch from Advantage in 2018 and continue to get comments about it from visitors. It looks fantastic but I can’t get over the strength and durability of this wood. It does require an annual oiling but that’s easy. Was happy when I visited Red Rocks venue in colorado (outdoor venue in the mountains) and saw big chunks of Ipe for seating. This stuff is the real deal.

  8. We just bought our first house and are looking at building our deck hopefully this year. Using the Ipe wood would certainly save a lot of headaches in the long run. Love to use this product for it.

  9. Looking to build a nice looking outdoor shower next to my pool with horizontally placed wood planks. I think IPE may be a great choice.

  10. I built a two story deck framed from structural steel to take advantage of a 270 degree view of water and mountains. I used cumaru decking and I’m very pleased with the durability and the weather resistance. We live in a very damp climate and previous wood deck materials would show shakes and checks after a couple of season despite end grain sealing prior to installation and annual cleaning and sealing with Penofin sealer.
    The hardwood deck so far has not exhibited any of these issues after five years of exposure. I do seal it annually with Penofin rosewood oil to maintain the color but I have seen decks that do not get this treatment that have a grayer appearance but the wood has maintained it’s integrity.
    I countersunk and used stainless steel fasteners and then plugged the holes with hardwood plugs. It’s a lot of effort to do so but I believe that the connection to the joist is much more positive than the concealed fastener clips. I have used the concealed fastener clips on other hardwood decks and since the hardwood is so dense and tight grained I had a few places where the wood had warped after installation and concealed fastener clips did not prevent the wood from moving.
    I would recommend using hardwoods for decks over other materials (especially composites) because of the natural beauty of real wood grain and the strength and durability.
    I have experienced quick delivery and good quality lumber from Advantage Lumber and I have recommended them to others for a source of hardwood lumber.

  11. I have a foundation for a deck already to go. Planning on building this spring or early summer. Ipe is my wood of choice! My wife and I are very excited to get it done!

  12. Awesome product to use here in Florida. The weather resistant properties for a natural.product are unmatched. My customer feedback after several years is nothing but positive . Advantage is the go to local source for all my Ipe jobs.

  13. The wood will turn grey after awhile but you just roll more oil on it. It’s much less maintenance than traditional softwoods that need a water sealer which peel off. Once it starts fading to grey you just apply more oil no stripping off water sealer. Also there have been many problems with composite materials and unfortunately once those fade, flake apart, get scratched and embedded with mold there’s not much you can do to restore them. Ipe has proven to last up to 75+ years.

  14. I have used lumber from Advantage for around 10 years I think. It is great material at a fair price and the service is good.

  15. This material looks absolutely exotic…like something you’d see in a very expensive AirBNB overseas somewhere. Reviews are great for this product and the company. Nice to see that.

  16. I built a deck with IPE four years ago and still get compliments. Friends say it looks good enough to put in their house, so i tell them to DO it. It’s not just for outdoors.

  17. I’ve been trying to pitch Garapa and Cumaru on any project I get which it can be used but haven’t had the right client just yet. I have found the pricing with those products are most comparative to products such as Trex. We did a very large Trex deck in 2018 and though it looked great, the slip, heat generation, and warping really turned me off that product, esp based on its cost. Trex is also a mess to clean up the shavings from a large amount of cuts, and not what I would consider a biodegradable product.

  18. It’s time to put on a deck of our house and this is so beautiful. It will be what I’ll use whether or not I win the current contest. I do have a question though, would ipe be a good choice for the deck of a sailboat in salt water? Would the wood last like teak does? I have an Angelman Sea Spirit ketch that has a current teak deck but is being fully restored.

  19. Absolutely Ipe is harder than teak and just as durable. We have customers that use it on their boats as a alternative to Teak every year. True Burmese Teak has become very expensive so Ipe is our number one recommended alternative.

  20. Cody, Very true! Many composites have had class action lawsuits for all the issues home owners have experienced. We have yet to find a composite that would last and hold up the way our customers expect so we don’t carry any.

  21. i installed a 2×2 cumaru deck and couldnt be happier. it has weathered extemely well and went in with ease.
    i recommend you guys whenever i can. your product is the perfect solution for roofs and decks in NYC!

  22. Beautiful wood the colors are so rich and velvety looking. I would love to have a deck built out of it.

  23. Great information. I never realized that there were woods out there that could last that long without being consistently treated. I wish I knew this before we redid our front deck but I will definitely keep this in mine when we redo the back one.

  24. Still in the process of refurbishing our huge deck. I definitely want to utilize Ipe as much as possible and my budget allows!

  25. Can’t wait to learn more about it. Looking to redo my 40 year old deck right now and Ipe is looking more and more like the best option.

  26. Thank you for educating me about the advantages of Ipe and the other woods. I can see the many advantages of your woods over other products.

  27. I havent had the opportunity to use IPE yet but I like the way the product reads and i look forward to building with it.

  28. We’ve always built our decks out of treated lumber and hate the maintenance they require every year or two. I need to look at the lumber you mentioned, as it is very humid here in summer and we need something that will last with less maintenance.

  29. A close relative had an IPE deck built many years ago and it still looks like new. I built my front deck with Cumaru from Advantage Lumber three years ago and it came out great! Not a bad board in the load. Their customer service and the shipper they used were the best!

  30. I have been trying for 3 years to save for a deck for our above ground pool… with twins and regular car and house maintenance the deck saving just never happens.. this would be a blessing to win!!! Thanks for the opportunity.. your information was so interesting and helpful.. cant wait to show husband.

  31. I too am interested in what ipe looks like when allowed to turn grey. Does it maintain its bug, mold and rot resistant qualities ? How often do I need to oil it? Yearly? I am sold on ipe and can’t wait to replace my rotted cedar deck. Now to find a reasonably priced contractor to complete the project!!! BTW….Advantage Lumber has been super with their customer service and my multiple calls to try to figure out cost and materials needed for my project!

  32. As someone who has to do yearly maintenance on a traditional wood deck, I wish I knew about this earlier. When it’s time to replace the existing one, having a durable real wood option will move this to the top of the list.

  33. thank u for sharing the info and i need a new deck but had no clue how to start or what wood was best!!i am excited to try this wood and how beautiful my deck will be

  34. I was thinking of going composite when we replace our deck, but I love these wooden decks. Did not know that there were wood options that outlast composite.

  35. I’ve been in love with Ipe for years, I was sure it was my wood of choice when I finally redo our deck. I can’t get over the look of Tigerwood though, it’s the prettiest wood I’ve ever seen!!!

  36. Great article! We were very misinformed on choosing wood. Your products are clearly better and we love the idea of building a deck using wood that won’t rot.

  37. The tiger wood looks amazing. What a beautiful grain and great depth. Looking to use this material as a ceiling for our outdoor patio. This grain would bring the rich colors from inside of our home to the outside. We look forward to learning more about this product and how to install.

  38. We are buying a home that needs new decks.Thank you for sharing. I plan on looking carefully at your info to help guide us in our reno.

  39. Excellent choice to stand up to severe weather. Thanks to Advantage for maintaining the sustainability of this amazing natural material/resource.

  40. we are doing a new deck this year, so thesse tips are much appreciated. some options i didn’t think of!

  41. This looks amazing! I have wrap around decks and it is time to start replacing! This will definitely be an option!

  42. There is no better choice for decking. Just try walking barefoot on this deck vs a plastic composite deck. There is no comparison.

  43. This looks amazing. I can’t believe I haven’t heard of it. I’m definitely going to look for local sourcing.

  44. My parents are looking to use this product to finish a deck. It looks amazing! I especially love the look of the deck tiles.

  45. The worst part about having a deck is the maintenance. A material that eliminates that to a large degree is worth the cost of admission so I can actually enjoy my deck instead of worrying about how well it is holding up.

  46. My deck is seriously in need of replacement, and I have been considering composite decking. My hesitation about this choice is the hot deck in sunshine, so these options of real woos are a revelation for me.
    Living in Canada would incur extra shipping costs, according tothe rules, but it would (will?) be worth it.

  47. I love all the ways this decking can be used . I find the ideas pretty awesome! I would try it around our propane fire place !💚

  48. I am so excited to find this website as I consider the possibilities of adding some decking to the house.

  49. Really informative for me since i plan on rebuilding my outdoor deck. Using the right kind of wood is of utmost importance

  50. The only time we see issues like this are when it was not installed properly. If you follow all our instructions you should have a long lasting deck that will far exceed your expectations and WOW your guests that visit your house!

  51. Ipe wood is our number one recommendation for all climates. One of our factories is in Buffalo, NY right along the Lake Erie snow machine. The city of Buffalo has used our Ipe for most of our boardwalks right along the water that gets slammed with ice, feet of snow and very cold temperatures to hot summer days. If you follow our recommendations and install instructions you’ll be very satisfied.

  52. Bamboo is not a wood it’s actually a grass it grows to full size in as little as 6 months but it takes 3-5 years for it to fully lignify (harden). Since most bamboo grows in Asia they unfortunately don’t have the reputation of quality it’s quantity and cheap over quality so they cut down the bamboo before it hardens. The other issue is bamboo is a thin walled hollow plant so they must cut it into thin strips and glue several layers together to make a thick enough plank for decking and flooring. The glue they use (often cheaper formaldehyde glue) can easily fail when exposed to harsh UV rays and temperature fluctuations. This is why we do not sell bamboo decking.

  53. I didn’t realize tropical woods were more durable than some domestic ones. I enjoyed reading this and learning more about Ipe.

  54. We are about to move to a different house. I might try to build a deck in the next year or two with this kind of wood. These photos look great.

  55. There are many advantages to using our hardwoods like Ipe. 1. hardwoods can be oiled to keep their beautiful color and appearance for up to 75 years. Once composites fade, scratch, get mold stains, de laminate and etc… there’s little to nothing you can do with them. Ipe is priced competitively if not cheaper than the composite that try to mimic hardwood decking. We suggest you read and watch the video on our blog here:

  56. Thank you! I learned a bit more from this article thanI had already researched. My husband and I have to rebuild our back deck and at our age, we really don’t want much on the way of upkeep or the thought of having to redo this AGAIN in 10-15 years. We also think that having one of these wood species for our deck would be attractive to buyers when we decide to sell.

  57. I would love to give this a try, I’ve used real wood decking, after a couple years it started to split and crack, I would like to see how this type of decking would up to weather and sun.

  58. Your pics look amazing! We’ve been remodeling nonstop on a house we bought two years ago and still have part of an old deck to replace. We built a screened in porch on part of it with stone tile flooring but want the outside deck to remain wood. Humidity and rain is a big concern here. My foot went through the old wood, as it is completely rotten. Will definitely look into this wood choice. Love the look.

  59. I am impressed that ipe and the other tropical hardwoods are both durable and beautiful. I have experience with pressure treated lumber and cedar. Both have their uses, but neither are as versatile.

  60. Many commercial applications have used it like the Coney Island boardwalk, the Brooklyn bridge and many others. These applications do not apply any treatments they just let it age naturally. Ipe has proven to last 75+ years in many applications like these.

  61. Beautiful! Far superior to the painted deck we have now. Would really “class up” our home. Love that it’s environmentally friendly, too!

  62. Worried that this type of decking will be too hot to walk on barefoot during the summer months with a pool. Looks very nice in the pics thogh!

  63. Is teak and the other more “exotic non-rotting woods” terribly more expensive than cedar or pine? My hubby and I just purchased a home and would like to build a small deck – but are also on a budget as we are doing a lot of projects on this home and it all adds up.

  64. Ipe is is really beautiful wood. I use it in many of my art projects. People don’t realize that it’s more than just outdoor lumber.

  65. Very informative. I really like the idea of the wood lasting 75+ years with very little maintenance. It being termite, mold and fungi resistant is downright awesome!

  66. This is a great investment for your home. The lumber looks sturdy and able to hold up in Illinois weather. Good luck, everyone!

  67. I would love to put a deck from this material in the front and back of my home. A small deck out front for a swing and a couple chairs and a larger one out back for entertaining guests.

  68. Thanks for all the great ideas! I learned a lot from this blog, and would love to try some of the projects pictured!

  69. These are all beautiful woods and I would love to create our deck with one. Thank you for the great information on the woods that have these qualities.

  70. Tigerwood Lanai is absolutely gorgeous!!! A back deck is a dream of mine and all of these make me want it more. Our backyard is west facing, so hot in the summer, need a cover.

  71. Very impressive wood. I have not seen anything else quite as durable as this. I would be very interested in using it in the future.

  72. This wood is amazing. I’m sure many people wish that they had heard about this years ago. My next deck will have it.

  73. Saying goodby to the yearly sanding, scraping and sealing of my wood deck. Plus enjoying the beauty of the
    Ipe Deck with Garapa Border

  74. I LOVE the Ipe! I also love the idea of putting in a ceiling fan! I think that would be great for the hot summer days we get in the Midwest! It is one of my dreams to build a nice deck off the front of our house, and this just gave me inspiration!

  75. This was helpful information. We need to replace our big front decks this summer. But at 69 and 71 years old we are worried about being able to physically do the maintenance of keeping it nice. Sounds like Ipe is an excellent choice for our project.

  76. I think the most important part of a deck should be water, mold, fungus, etc. resistance. Glad to know you guys got me covered

  77. It’s interesting to see all of the other applications for the wood other than just decking. It gives me some ideas to experiment with that I never would have before.

  78. I like the idea that the wood is so strong and weather resistant; and will last for so long. I was wanting to help my son with a nice deck but it’s so expensive and I’m on a Veterans disability checks . It doesn’t allow for many extras. He’s a mechanic with 5 kids and also hard to do it. BUT if I could win this for his family He would have something he could really be proud of!! Your photos are beautiful!!

  79. Would love to win, my back porch looks awful and I need a deck around my swimming pool that connects to the back porch

  80. My deck is in serious need of updating and there are so many good ideas on here, will be hard to pick just one to update our place, thanks for sharing!!

  81. Nothing beats a beautiful deck and the ones I see on this site are amazing! I’d love to replace the ramshackle deck we currently have with this product!

  82. This is great information. I really want a nice big deck to sit outside and enjoy the great weather, and spend time with my family. Like we use to do at my Grandparents house.

  83. Gorgeous color! Would love to see aged pics. Am curious as to how it may or may not fade. We will be adding our deck and fencing (fingers crossed) this coming year. It’s good to know there are some serious contenders out there besides the norm.

  84. I’ve never seen anything like those deck tiles before. They are beautiful and I would love a deck built with those.

  85. Amazing quality you can see in the pictures. Great site layout. An add comment button at the top of the page would be nice too.

  86. We are building a barn to live in which we plan to live in York Co., Maine. Big loft and the whole works. I plan to have two decks and this is the best wood for outdoor use that I could possibly dream of using for decks and multiple projects to come.

  87. The heat resistance and no slip is a real selling point. I’m loving the style we are planning a deck this summer.

  88. I was very concerned and I looked at your forestry practices and I feel you have answered my questions. I really like the advantages with Ipe Wood and am going to seriously consider it for our new deck this summer.

  89. My deck is sadly coming apart a few years after putting it in. I wish better materials had been used such as yours!

  90. Thank you for the opportunity to win a new deck. We have been looking for new designs and your site has helped us a lot.

  91. Intriguing. I’m at 9200 foot elevation. Harsh freeze / thaw cycles, snow load, scraping from snow shovels, intense sun and summertime heat. Haven’t found anything that holds up well over time. I’d love to resurface just one more time in my life!

  92. Cumaru has become my favorite wood product for my projects. Here in Florida you have to oil regularly depending on how much sun and rain it gets. Next I am adding a fence, same material.

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