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Wood or Plastic? Ipe or Azek?

A lot of people ask me this question - "What do you think is better?"  To me, there is no single answer to this question that would work for every person and every project.  I feel that it is my job to describe the advantages and the disadvantages of both and then help the homeowner make the decision.  So here it is:

Ipe or other hardwood.  First of all, I would not suggest any other hardwood other than the Ipe.  All other hardwoods are inferior and the only reason you know about the other hardwoods is because they all cost roughly half of what the Ipe costs and companies make a lot more profit selling them.  Also, many like hardwoods like Kayu Batu or Tigerdeck (Tiger wood) change so many hands before getting to the installer that they end up costing like Ipe, but are inferior to it in so many ways.  The main advantage of Ipe over the plastic is - THE LOOK (Ipe is real, nothing can compete with that).  Would you want plastic flooring or the real hardwood flooring?  What about your kitchen? Your car trim?  No matter how hard the manufacturers try, plastic looks fake.  The other advantage is that Ipe complies with the Building Code (a lot of the plastic products don't), there is a variety of matching profiles for railings, pergolas, screens etc. and Ipe does not get as hot in the sun.

The advantage of plastic versus the Ipe is the fact that the plastic virtually don't need any maintenance.  Ipe needs to be oiled every year to preserve its color.  If done by us, we charge $1 per sq. ft. to oil the deck (labour and material).  So you can roughly calculate how much it will cost to have this deck oiled by us every year.  If you wish to to do it yourself, be prepared to spend 1.5 hrs per 100 sq. ft. applying the stain by brush plus $0.25 per sq. ft. to cover the cost of the Oil. Realistically, there are no other advantages of plastic over Ipe as Ipe is clear of knots, almost does not crack, will not warp or twist (only minor) etc. etc.

If you are looking to buy Ipe lumber, please visit this Online Store. It offers the largest availability of Ipe lumber profiles, lengths. Pick up is available in the Toronto area and delivery to anywhere in North America.