We all know that Ipe is the crème de la crème of decking lumber. But we also know that it experiences shortages and pricing fluctuations, due to the limited growing and buying seasons for that fabulous lumber species. Many decking lumber specialists agree that another South American decking lumber species is comparable to Ipe and worth checking out as an alternative for your exotic hardwood decking customers. That species is Cumaru.
This South American decking species presents a yellowish brown coloring with fine, interlocking grain. Often confused with Teak, one of the nicknames for Cumaru is Brazilian Teak. Some similarities between Cumaru and Teak include weather resistance and a golden coloring. At the same time, though, Cumaru is more similar to Massaranduba or, as we’ve already mentioned, to Ipe.
Unlike Teak and Ipe, Cumaru is not in as high demand, and therefore, it is more readily available. Also unlike Teak, Cumaru dries evenly and lacks the propensity to checking that Teak can exhibit. Despite its density and interlocking grain, it planes and machines well. Thicker cuts of Cumaru prove to be more stable, so J. Gibson McIlvain carries only 5/4 thicknesses of Cumaru decking in widths of 4 and 6 inches.
As a decking lumber, Cumaru’s oily nature offers a waxy texture that makes it resist rot and decay. While that same oil content can cause some problems with finishing, a simple pretreatment can strip away the oil in order to prepare the wood for various finishing processes when needed. Cumaru’s hardness, stability, and strength makes it ideal for decking applications. As long as it’s allowed to dry properly and acclimate to its surroundings, it will prove to demonstrate a stability and durability similar to that of Ipe.
Here at J. Gibson McIlvain Lumber, we’re all about quality. In fact, we cater to a clientele that’s more concerned with quality than they are with price. At the same time, we realize that for many, the bottom line is not insignificant. While high-traffic areas like public boardwalks can certainly benefit from the premium characteristics that belong solely to Ipe, many of those are overbuilt unnecessarily. Choosing Cumaru over Ipe will mean a slight difference in color, which can be altered during the finishing process. It will also mean a lower price tag and — perhaps most importantly — more consistent availability.
Once you choose a premium tropical decking species, you still have a few more decisions to make. Gap size and fastening method are two of the biggies. To discuss the pros and cons of the various choices out there, feel free to start a conversation with our decking lumber experts by calling (800) 638-9100. We love to share our lumber knowledge and expertise with you!
Red Balau is another less common but excellent tropical decking species, and you can read about it here.
Read the Series
• Wood Decking Species Choices: Ipe
• Wood Decking Species Choices: Cumaru
• Wood Decking Species Choices: Red Balau
• Wood Decking Species Choices: Jatoba
J. Gibson McIlvain Company
Since 1798, when Hugh McIlvain established a lumber business near Philadelphia, the McIlvain family has been immersed in the premium import and domestic lumber industry. With its headquarters located just outside of Baltimore, the J. Gibson McIlvain Company (www.mcilvain.com) is one of the largest U.S. importers of exotic woods.
As an active supporter of sustainable lumber practices, the J. Gibson McIlvain Company has provided fine lumber for notable projects throughout the world, including the White House, Capitol building, Supreme Court, and the Smithsonian museums.
Contact a sales representative at J. Gibson McIlvain today by calling toll free (800) 638-9100.
Donnette Reynolds says
5/4x6x16 Cumaru 1” x 5-1/2” x Size: 16′ 8 boards
4x6x12 Cumaru 1” x 5-1/2” x 12’ 46 boards
Ipe Seal – Hardwood Grain Sealer; 1 Qt.
Ipe Hardwood Deck Oil