Massaranduba vs. Ipe: Which One to Use?

Massaranduba vs. Ipe: Which One to Use?

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The world is full of amazing hardwoods. Depending on where you live in the world, it’s easy to fall into a pattern of using the same wood that people in your country have used for decades. However, with a bit of research, there are some incredible types of wood to use in woodworking projects.

This article will talk about massaranduba and ipe wood, describing what they are, and when to use each one.

What Is Massaranduba?

Massaranduba is also commonly known as bulletwood and Brazilian redwood. Scientifically it is called Manilkara bidentata. This wood is found in Central and South America, as well as the Caribbean. Mature trees tend to grow between 100’-150’ tall, with the trunk diameter reaching between 2’-4’.

Massaranduba is a hardwood that is considered to be extremely beautiful, as well as being one of the hardest timbers available on the market. In particular, this material is capable of holding large weights and resisting loads that would typically bend boards. This is particularly useful for one of the main applications people use massaranduba for, which is decking, where this wood outperforms a lot of other similar species.

However, for most people, it’s not the strength of massaranduba that makes it so appealing as a material. The real reason that many people want to use this wood is the beautiful tones and colors that the milled lumber has.

The red tones of the timber are what gave the wood one of its names, Brazilian redwood. The timber will also last a good length of time outside. Without a busy maintenance schedule, massaranduba decking can last over 30 years.

What Is Ipe?

Like massaranduba, ipe also has a few different names. Other common names for ipe are Brazilian walnut and lapacho. The tree’s scientific name is Handroanthus spp, however, it was formerly in the Tabebuia family.

Ipe is originally a native tree to Central and South America. However, it is now farmed commercially in more countries around the world. Mature trees can grow up to 130’ tall, with the trunk diameter reaching 4’.

This is a well-respected timber that is known to take a lot but gives a lot back. This means that it can be difficult to work, but in return, you’ll get a strong and long-lasting material. The hardness of ipe lends itself well to flooring and decking, where it will be more commonly referred to as Brazilian walnut. Despite this name, ipe is not related to the walnut tree at all.

Massaranduba vs. Ipe: What Are the Differences?

Both massaranduba and ipe are often thought of as fulfilling similar roles. Despite the similarities, massaranduba and ipe have their own unique characteristics. In this section, we’ll compare the strength, appearance, grain, workability, and sustainability of the two timbers.


When comparing the strength of timber, each individual piece must be analyzed for defects. However, when comparing the straight data, the timbers are fairly well matched. Ipe scores better on the Janka hardness test, with 3,510 lbf compared to massaranduba’s 3,190 lbf.

Appearance and Color

Massaranduba is known for the dark reds and browns of its heartwood. With age, the tones get deeper and darker as well. The sapwood contrasts quite dramatically with the heartwood, with it being more pale and yellow.

Similarly, ipe can have red and brown tones, alongside blacks, yellows, and olive colors. Alongside this, there are particular species that have deposits that look like yellow powder inside the wood.

Grain and Texture

The grain of massaranduba can change from tree to tree, some specimens will have straight grain, others interlocked, and others wavy. To the touch, the grain is fine and generally smooth.

Ipe can also have a varying grain, ranging from straight to interlocked. Texture-wise, ipe is situated between fine and medium.


Massaranduba differs from ipe when we talk about workability. This is because it can be cut and worked well, despite its hardness. Hand tools and machine tools will cut massaranduba with relative ease, but with above-average blunting. Some people also report that the oil content of the wood makes it more difficult to glue.

Ipe can be a frustrating timber to work with. However, the results of perseverance when working with the wood can produce exceptional work that will last a very long time.

The density and hardness of this material make it quite resistant to cutting and can dull blades relatively quickly. When planing, the timber can produce smooth clean faces, however, the interlocked areas of grain can be prone to tear-out.

If the piece of ipe is straight-grained, then it can also turn nicely. However, if it contains those yellow powder deposits, these sections might take a finish differently from the other sections of grain.


Neither massaranduba nor ipe is listed on the red list of threatened species. Despite this, ipe is not found in huge quantities. In fact, one mature ipe tree is on average found in 3 to 10 hectares of forest. As such, large areas of forest are cleared for ipe logging.

When to Use Massaranduba Wood?

Massaranduba is considered by many to be a cheaper alternative to ipe and can be used in a lot of similar applications. Some of the most common uses for this material are flooring, boatbuilding, steam bending, turning, paneling, construction, instruments, and decking.

When to Use Ipe Wood?

The natural characteristics of ipe mean that it is very well suited for outdoor applications, where it can last well over 50 years if maintained. Some uses for ipe include fences, gazebos, pergolas, trellises, siding, flooring, furniture, and decking.

Alternatives to Massaranduba and Ipe Wood

Both massaranduba and ipe are non-native to Europe and North America, meaning they are usually imported. Sometimes it can be difficult to source imported timber and we need to look for alternatives to use in our projects. Below are some other types of timber to consider.

We also have a separate article detailing ipe alternatives.

California Redwood

The California redwood is also known as a sequoia. It has rich colorings and tones, which make it extremely sought-after for projects like paneling, decking, fences, and furniture.


Cumaru is another very strong, hard timber. It is sometimes called Brazilian teak and it’s frequently used for hardwood flooring.


Jatoba is also known as Brazilian Cherry. The wood from the jatoba tree is very strong and stiff.


Massaranduba and ipe are two amazing hardwoods. They are two of the most strong and hard types of wood you can buy and will last an exceptionally long time outside. Deciding on one of the trees over another will largely come down to price, appearance, and availability. Remember to closely inspect the stock before purchasing to make sure there are minimal defects.