Red Balau vs Ipe | Which is Better for a Deck?

Red Balau(Shorea Ochrophloia) is a species of plant in the family Dipterocarpaceae. It is native to Sumatra and Peninsular Malaysia. Red Balau is widely used for floors and decks. It can also be used in other work such as marine plywood and solid wood in boat building.

Ipe (Handroanthus) is also known as Brazilian Walnut. It is native to Central and South America. Ipe wood is known for its great hardness. It is widely used for flooring, decking, veneer, and many other applications. This is a great wood species for exterior applications.

#Red BalauIpe Wood
Scientific Name:Shorea OchrophloiaHandroanthus spp.
Tree Height105-140 (32 – 40 m) tall100-130 ft (30-40 m) tall
Durability:Good DurabilityGreat Durability
Hardness (Janka):1,600 lbf (7,120 N)3,510 lbf (15,620 N)
Weight53 lbs/ft369 lbs/ft3 (1,100 kg/m3)
Wood color:Yellow to brownReddish-brown to darker blackish brown
Workability:Overall goodOverall good
Uses:Decking, flooring, ship-building, and heavy constructionFlooring, decking, exterior lumber, veneer, etc.
Red Balau vs Ipe

Red Balau vs Ipe Color and Appearance

The Red Balau is light to dark brown or purplish red-brown to gray-brown. It has medium to large pores. Grain is sometimes interlocked. Its grain holds the paint and polish well.

The heartwood of Ipe wood is reddish-brown, to a yellowish olive brown or darker blackish brown. The color depends on its location and environment. Ipe wood has a fine to medium grain. The grain varies from straight to irregular or interlocked.

Red Balau vs Ipe Uses

wooden decking
Wooden Decking

Red Balau is a very dense hardwood. Therefore it is mainly used for heavy construction. Constructors like to use it for decking and flooring because of its durability and appearance. Due to the great density, they believe that high-density wood is less likely to get dents and scratches.

Another great feature of Red Balau is its rot resistance so that it remains durable for a long time even after contact with the ground and bad weather.

Ipe wood has great hardness (3,510 LBF (15,620 N)) and strength. It is known for its use in decking, outdoor structures, siding, flooring, and furniture. In the United States of America, Ipe wood is widely used for flooring and decking. 

Ipe wood has excellent insect resistance properties. It can easily withstand bad weather and requires low maintenance and care. That’s why it is the choice of the owners.



The workability of Red Balau wood is not very good. Because of its high density and heavyweight. It is better to do pre-drilling before applying nails and screws. Still, the workability of Red Balau is overall good in comparison to Ipe wood.

Ipe is hard as a rock. It is extremely dense and hard(3,510 LBF (15,620 N)). Its hardness is almost twice that of Red Balau. Carpenters have to face difficulties while working on it with hand and machine tools. Before applying nails and screws, pre-drilling is required. Carpenters believe that working on ipe wood takes a long time.

Which is Better for a Deck?

It is a bit difficult to say directly which is better for the deck between Red Balau and Ipe. But we can say that both have their own advantages and disadvantages.

Let’s explore each wood and discuss. Which is Better for a Deck?

Red Balau is better known for its durability, luxurious appearance, and price. Although it is not as durable as Ipe. However, it can be made more durable by certain treatments such as paint and polish or using treated wood.  But it cannot match the Ipe. Red Balau is compared to teak. While it is available at a lower price than many hardwoods. It can be in your budget.

Ipe wood is very, very dense and durable. Ipe wood has been in use for a very long time for decking and flooring. It is better for decking in many ways as it is environmentally friendly wood and after using it once, it does not require maintenance for many years.

The Janka hardness (3,510 LBF (15,620 N)) of ipe wood is very high. So surface scratches and dents are very rare. Although its price is more than that of Red Balau. And the workability is not much better. Due to this your carpenter may have some trouble. But there is a price to be paid for every good thing.

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