In our first two posts (see Parts 1 & 2), we took a survey of several top-selling tropical hardwood decking species — first Ipe and Cumaru and then Red Balau, Jatoba, and Tigerwood. We’ll be looking at three more options in this post: Massaranduba, Garapa, and Cambara. While lesser known than some of the other options we’ve discussed in previous posts, all three are still excellent choices when it comes to your luxury residential deck.
Tropical Hardwood Species Focus: Massaranduba
Alternately known as Bullet Wood or Brazilian Redwood, Massaranduba is known to be an extremely hard, dense species. This giant tree yields plenty of boards with straight, consistent grain, ideal for a variety of applications, including decking. When exposed to sunlight, the rich red color of freshly sawn Bullet Wood mellows into a more brownish hue.
Approximately 80% as hard as Ipe, this species is still quite hard, making it durable enough to withstand the punishment of foot traffic and more. One downside of Bullet Wood is that it commonly exhibits splits and checks during the drying process, and in extremely dry climates, it fails to stand the test of time. So if you’re in the Southwest or the Rocky Mountain region, this species isn’t your best choice But in Europe and much of the US, it’s a great option, priced similarly to Cumaru.
Tropical Hardwood Species Focus: Garapa
Just like the species described above, this one has a nickname that lets you know where it’s from: Garapa is also known as Brazilian Oak. Both dense and hard, this species has a coloring that’s pretty unique. The striking lemon-yellow color of Garapa makes it attractive to some but a bit too unusual for others. About 60% the hardness of Ipe, this species is still quite hard and boasts the same class A fire ratings of other South American species. If you like the combination of price point with other features but just can’t swallow the lemony color, you can apply dyes and stains for a more traditional tropical decking appearance.
Tropical Hardwood Species Focus: Cambara
While once a viable decking option, the Cambara currently coming out of Brazil is too inconsistent to be considered a possibility. While it does have many of the characteristics of Mahogany, it’s unfortunately not a good possibility right now.
The good news is that you have plenty of viable options when it comes to tropical hardwood decking options. Whether you choose Ipe or Cumaru; Red Balau, Jatoba or Tigerwood; Massaranduba or Garapa, you’ll be making an excellent choice. At J. Gibson McIlvain, we carry plenty of the first 4 species in common sizes and smaller quantities of the others. Certain sizes are available upon request. Our lumber experts will be glad to help you make your decision, too!