Is Ipe or Trex More Expensive? A Comprehensive Cost Comparison

When it comes to choosing the right material for building your deck, two popular options often come to mind: Ipe wood and Trex composite decking. Both have their unique benefits and drawbacks, but one of the most significant deciding factors for many homeowners is cost.

So, which is more expensive, Ipe or Trex? Let’s dive into a detailed comparison to help you make an informed decision.

Ipe Wood: The Luxurious Hardwood

Ipe (pronounced ee-pay) is a type of Brazilian hardwood known for its incredible durability, density, and natural resistance to decay, insects, and rot. Its rich, dark brown color and fine grain make it a favorite among homeowners seeking a luxurious, natural look for their decks. Ipe is known to last up to 75 years on tough commercial applications such as the Coney Island boardwalk.

Cost of Ipe Wood:

  1. Material Costs: Ipe wood is one of the more expensive decking materials on the market. The cost of Ipe boards can range from $10 to $14 per square foot. The high cost is due to the wood’s superior qualities and the expense involved in harvesting and transporting it from South America.
  2. Installation Costs: If you are paying a contractor, installing Ipe can be costlier compared to other decking materials. Due to its density and hardness, it requires pre-drilling all screw holes and stainless steel fasteners, which can increase labor time and costs. Expect to pay between $20 to $45 per square foot for installation.
  3. Maintenance Costs: While Ipe is incredibly durable, it does require regular maintenance to preserve its color. Annual cleaning and resealing are recommended, which can add to the overall cost over time. If you don’t mind they grey look then Ipe wood is the ultimate low maintenance decking material as the wood can last 50 – 75 years without any sealers or oil applied. Ipe is one of the most dense and rot resistant woods available.

Below is a picture of a grey Ipe deck, you can see the wood retains its smooth surface and you can still see the beautiful figured wood grain. When people think of a grey wood deck they think of an old pressure treated wood deck.

Pressure treated will develop large cracks and splinters which will not only become unsightly but can be very unpleasant to walk on barefoot. Ipe wood will not deteriorate like pressure treated pine. You’ll have a beautiful smooth grey deck for years to come.

Grey Ipe Wood Deck
Grey Ipe Wood Deck

Trex is a leading brand in composite decking, known for its low-maintenance, eco-friendly products. Made from a blend of recycled wood fibers and plastic, Trex boards offer a consistent look and feel without the need for regular maintenance.

Cost of Trex Decking:

  1. Material Costs: Trex decking comes in various product lines, each with different price points. On average, Trex boards cost between $5 to $17 per square foot. The price can vary based on the specific product line and the color/finish chosen.
  2. Installation Costs: Installing Trex decking is generally less expensive than Ipe. The material is lighter and easier to work with, which reduces labor costs. Installation typically ranges from $20 to $40 per square foot.
  3. Maintenance Costs: One of the biggest advantages of Trex decking is its low maintenance. Trex boards do not require annual sealing or oiling in the case of Ipe. Occasional cleaning with soap and water is usually sufficient, making long-term maintenance costs minimal.
Trex Grooved Deck Boards

Total Cost Comparison

To give a clearer picture, let’s compare the total costs of a hypothetical 200-square-foot deck using both materials.

Ipe Wood:

  • Material Costs: 200 sq. ft. x $12.50 (average) = $2,500
  • Installation Costs: 200 sq. ft. x $32.5 (average) = $6,500
  • Maintenance Costs (Annual): $75
  • Maintenance Costs Grey (Annual): $0


  • Material Costs: 200 sq. ft. x $11 (average) = $2,200
  • Installation Costs: 200 sq. ft. x $30 (average) = $6,000
  • Maintenance Costs (Annual): $0

Over a 10-year period, including maintenance for Ipe, the costs would be:

  • Ipe Total Cost: $2,500 (materials) + $6,500 (installation) + $750 (maintenance) = $9,750
  • Trex Total Cost: $2,200 (materials) + $6,000 (installation) = $8,200

Price Disclaimer:

Pricing can vary significantly as Trex offers product lines that are cheaper than Ipe and higher end lines that are more expensive than Ipe. Labor can vary significantly depending on your area, it’s recommended to get several quotes from reputable deck builders in your area.

Framing Disclaimer:

Ipe wood is one of the strongest woods available as a result framing your deck 16″ on center is not problem even with 1×6 deck board which has a finished thickness of 3/4″.

Trex decking on the other hand will tell you it can span 16″ on center. However if you Google “Trex decking sagging” you’ll see many homeowners have issues if it’s space 16″ on center and heats up in the summer the boards will likely sag in between the joists.

Trex deck boards when you pick them up will sag as they are not very rigid so framing your deck 12″ on center is recommended by most professional installers. When we sell a customer Trex decking we always advise 12″ on center. This does add to your deck build costs but give you a stronger more rigid deck surface.

Also consider framing lifespan since Ipe is proven to last 50 – 75 years and Trex offers higher end deck boards with a 50 year prorated warranty. The newer pressure treated lumber nowadays is showing signs it does not last as long as the arsenic treated lumber that was removed from the market for obvious reasons.

We receive calls every year from customers that ordered an Ipe deck from us 20 years ago that say their Ipe is still like new but their pressure treated from is rotted and the deck needs to be rebuilt. They can reuse the Ipe in but need to pay for the deck to be carefully removed and rebuilt which costs even more money.

As a result we now offer steel deck framing which can last as long as an Ipe deck or Trex deck. Make sure you are not buying premium decking material and putting it on a cheap deck frame that won’t last as that will cost you more money in the long run.


When comparing Ipe and Trex, it’s clear that Ipe wood is more expensive as Trex does offer some cheaper entry level deck boards. Trex, while still a premium option, tends to be more cost-effective in the long run, especially when considering the low maintenance it requires.

Ultimately, the choice between Ipe and Trex will depend on your budget, aesthetic preferences, and willingness to maintain your deck. If you desire a natural, high-end look and don’t mind the upkeep, Ipe might be the way to go. However, if you prefer a more affordable, low-maintenance option, Trex is an excellent choice. If you like the grey look Ipe is the ultimate proven low maintenance and longest lifespan decking available.

By weighing these factors, you can make a decision that best suits your needs and ensures your outdoor space is both beautiful and functional for years to come.

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