Ipe vs. Teak: Which One to Use?

Ipe vs. Teak: Which One to Use?

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If you are looking for some solid wood to work with, then you have many different options at your disposal. Two very common types of wood that you can use to build are ipe and teak. Although both of these materials are quite popular, there are some big differences between them.

Today, we are going to figure out exactly what makes them different from each other, and which one is best used for specific projects.

What Is Ipe?

First, we have ipe, which is a tropical hardwood tree that is deciduous in nature. This tree is found mainly in the tropical Americas and in South America. Ipe wood may also be called Brazilian walnut, and therefore, as you can guess, is very commonly found in Brazil.

Many people really like this wood due to its beautiful appearance, as it has a very fine texture with a straight grain, although it may sometimes be irregular or interlocked. There does appear to be a good deal of variation from one tree to another.

In terms of color, the heartwood of this tree can be reddish-brown, although it may sometimes also be yellowish or olive-brown. What also needs to be said is that ipe wood contains a lot of natural oils and resins, which allow for great insect, pest, fungus, and moisture resistance.

What also stands out about this wood is that it is very dense, hard, and durable, therefore making it resistant to many types of physical damage. In fact, Ipe wood is one of the strongest and most durable types of wood that you can get your hands on, so it is ideal for both indoor and outdoor use. It is often used for fencing, decking, siding, furniture, and more.

What Is Teak?

We then have the teak tree, which is also a tropical hardwood tree that is found in many different mixed hardwood forests, although, it is more commonly found in Southeast Asia, mainly in Thailand, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, India, Bangladesh, and Myanmar, although it can also be found in the Caribbean and in Africa. Moreover, the Teak tree can grow well over 130,’ and it has a pretty wide trunk as well.

This tree has a wood that is generally quite straight in grain, with a very smooth appearance, although it may sometimes have some knots, holes, or gaps. Teak wood is generally quite golden in color, although sometimes it may also have a slightly dark brown tint to it. As teak wood starts to dry, it will usually get lighter in color.

This material is also quite strong and dense, therefore making it quite durable and resistant to many types of physical damage. Teak also tends to be quite resistant to warping and cracking, as well as fungus and moisture. This wood makes quite a popular choice for trim, paneling, flooring, and indoor and exterior furniture.

Ipe vs. Teak: What Are the Differences?

Now that we know what both ipe wood and teak wood are, let’s figure out what makes them different from each other.


One of the big differences between these two types of wood is that ipe is much harder than teak wood. Ipe features a Janka hardness rating of 3,500 lbf, whereas teak wood features a Janka hardness rating of 2,300 lbf. Now, both of these types of wood are very hard, but ipe is the harder of the two, and therefore much more resistant to many types of physical damage.


Not only is ipe wood much harder than teak, but also much denser and heavier. Ipe wood features a density of roughly 68 lbs per cubic foot, whereas teak wood features a density of roughly 46 lbs per cubic foot. This means that ipe is significantly heavier and denser than teak wood, and this does in part lead to it being much more durable, but it also makes it much heavier and therefore harder to work with.

Resistance to Pests and Moisture

Technically speaking, this is not really a difference between the two. Both teak wood and ipe wood are extremely resistant to the elements. Both have very tight grains, as well as hard surfaces, and they have very dense structures as well.

They also both contain a good deal of natural oils and resins. All of these factors lead to both of these types of wood being very resistant to pests and moisture. With that being said, ipe probably has the upper hand here and is still the better option for outdoor use.

Overall Strength and Durability

When it comes down to it, both of these materials are extremely strong and durable. However, in terms of hardness, density, crushing strength, and more, ipe is always going to be the stronger of the two.


because ipe wood is so much heavier and harder than teak, it is also harder to work with. Ipe wood is known for causing saw blades to become very dull with minimal cutting.

Appearance – Grain and Color

Teak tends to be a fairly light golden color, whereas ipe is usually a reddish-brown or olive-brown color. However, both of these types of wood tend to have a fairly tight and straight grain.


Ipe wood usually costs between $4 and $12 per board foot, whereas teak is generally much more expensive.

When to Use Ipe Wood?

If you need something that is extremely hard, dense, durable, and resistant to the elements, then this is a good type of wood to use. What stands out about ipe wood is not only how hard and durable it is, but also how affordable it is. This type of wood is often used for fencing, siding, and decking because it can last well over 75 years outdoors.

When to Use Teak Wood?

What it really all comes down to here is the difference in price and appearance, because teak is a bit more expensive than ipe. However, if you like the appearance of teak, especially that light golden-brown color, then it is a good option to go with. Remember that teak wood is still a good choice for both indoor and outdoor use.

Alternatives to Ipe and Teak Wood

If you just aren’t a fan of hardwoods, then there are many types of softwood that you can use, including pine, spruce, Douglas fir, and more.

There are also some good, hard-enough ipe alternatives.


Now that you know what makes ipe and teak different from each other, you can choose which one works best for your next big project.