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Accoya Color vs Ipe decking

What’s better for you and for the environment?


There’s a good reason that real wood decks are popular in this country and elsewhere, it’s a combination of beauty and touch and feel. A real wooden deck is both lovely to look at (especially in the rain, where the water highlights colors and grain) and gorgeous to walk on. There are many millions of decks in this country with the majority of them being made of natural wood. One of the most popular wood species used in the US for decking has been, until recently, Ipe and the use of this wood forms the basis of this blog, in particular when compared to the new revolutionary wooden decking material, Accoya Color®

Ipe, Latin name Tabebuia serratifolia, is a large deciduous tree that is native to lowland rainforests in Central and South America. It’s a hardwood that resembles mahogany in appearance and is commonly found in Bolivia and in the Amazon rainforest in Brazil – it’s also located in Ecuador, Peru and Paraguay among other countries.

The upsides of Ipe

The upsides of Ipe

There are several reasons why Ipe has been so popular for decking and it’s worth noting these, even though this blog is stressing the benefits of Accoya Color! Ipe is classified as a highly durable wood, meaning that in most weather conditions it will last a long time. It also has mold-resistant properties. One thing to note here is that in order to extend its life Ipe wood decks must be maintained with oiling and that takes time and of course has a dollar value attached. It also doesn’t retain heat as much as other natural woods so in hot climes it can be walked on in bare feet in some comfort.

Let's explore the downsides

Let’s explore the downsides

Of course, it’s almost too good to be true. No wood from the rainforest can be sustained for ever and there are plenty of reasons why Ipe is now becoming harder to source and is simply not sustainable. According to lumber website greenworldlumber.com, 18 percent of the Amazon rainforest has been lost to deforestation and one of the victims is Ipe hardwood.

The tragedy here is that these beautiful trees, which can grow up to 150 feet in height, take between 80 to 100 years to grow before being felled, often illegally. Much of the documentation that accompanies imports of Ipe is forged and American consumers unwillingly and unknowingly buy this wood in a trade that is ruining natural rainforests.

Another major downside on the environmental side is the fact that Ipe trees grow very sparsely. It is said that in their natural rainforest habitats one Ipe tree is found in every 300,000 to 1,000,000 square feet. To get to this precious tree illegal loggers often cut down huge areas of rainforest that they have no interest in just to harvest one tree.

Because it’s so scarce these days it is a very expensive wood for both consumers and the installers too, it’s more expensive than redwood and cedar for example. Linked to the scarcity cost is the cost of installation. As it’s so incredibly tough it’s a difficult wood to work with, very unforgiving on tooling with some issues in getting fasteners to fix. All of these issues mean increased costs to consumers.


Times, they are a changing...time for Accoya® Color

Times, they are a changing…time for Accoya® Color

As the famous song says, times are changing. Consumers, millworkers and professional installers in the US are looking for alternatives to endangered wood species such as Ipe and Burmese Teak. Accoya Color is the perfect natural wood material for outdoor decks and walkways.

Accoya Color is an organic natural product that comes from FSC® certified softwood plantations that take no more than 20 to 25 years to grow. This pine softwood is then modified using the famous and tried and tested Accoya process of acetylation that turns it into Accoya wood, beautiful, hard-wearing and highly sustainable with lots of proven environmental accreditations to its name. It comes with a 50-year warranty for above-ground installations against rot and decay and a 25-year warranty in water. No one else does this!

Accoya Color is the latest development in Accoya’s market offering, it’s the same hard-working and durable modified timber that is now colored a beautiful shade of grey throughout the wood. This means no additional treatments or coatings are needed, it’s ready to use straight out of the box. A great advantage for installers is that it’s a safe and reliable lumber to work with, tooling is protected which means lower costs for consumers and there’s less waste which is always good! It’s also quicker to install and holds fasteners better than Ipe.

It’s fair to say that a beautiful wood like Ipe has been overharvested for decades and this has made it unsustainable and very scarce. Accoya Color is the beautiful alternative that’s kinder to the environment. Now is the time for Accoya Color.

For more information and see projects made with Accoya Color go to www.accoya.com/products/decking/color-grey-decking/

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