Life Expectancy of Mangaris (vs ipe)

elliots11October 11, 2012

Hi all,


I've been reading a lot of postings on here and doing research online for months.

I'm having a deck built where my last one was rotted out (previous owner left sprinklers running at night right on the deck). It's been completely gutted and is just dirt now, no joists, no nothing.

I want ipe, but I don't think I can afford it. My contractor can get Mangaris for much less, and is really into that idea. Looking on the Janka hardness scale Mangaris (Red Balau) comes in at 2100. Ipe is 3680. Redwood is 480 if you're lucky and people use that all the time and it seems to last about 15-25 years, but requires more maintenance.


1. Does anyone know the expected lifespan of a mangaris deck? Ipe goes 50-75-100 years or more (I've read). Mangaris being somewhat softer, but still really hard, is what? 50 years max?

2. How much and what kind of maintenence would one expect to need on a mangaris deck? There's lots of info on ipe and others out there (which are set it and forget it), but not so much on Mangaris.

3. Does anyone who has a mangaris deck want to chime in?

4. I've read someone saying that mangaris is an indoor wood and not a deck wood, but it seems common to use it as a deck wood here in LA. It's harder than redwood, which is commonly used, so why wouldn't it be a deck wood?

5. How fire resistant is it? That's important where I live and I can't find any info online about this.


I live in Los Angeles on a hill. The area where the deck will go is behind my house and in front of the hill, which is held back by a giant concrete retaining wall. I'd say it gets maybe 6 hours of direct sunlight a day, max. That rules out Trex for sure. It doesn't rain a whole lot where I live, except during fall/winter (like today). I should be able to build it with about a foot of clearance over the low layer of dirt and rock below.

Thanks in advance!

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Also, I believe the thickness of Mangaris available is more than ipe, which is a factor in the joist spacing, which is a factor in the cost.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2012 at 5:57PM
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I can only comment on certain properties. Ipe and redwood, among several species, have internal chemicals that resist rot (also fire). This is a greater determinant of lifetime than wood hardness. Hardness is a measure of resistance to mechanical damage. Tensile strength and sectional moment of inertia are measures of allowable span for a given deflection.

It is my understanding from this site and others that wood decking subjected to differential humidity (top vs. bottom) will cup, and if the wood is strong enough it can even pull the screws from the joists. A low, poorly ventilated deck, such as mine presently under reconstruction, can be subject to this issue.

Non-wood decking, such as plastics and aluminum, seems to be called for in such cases. But I am in NH and you are in LA, so your case is probably not the same as mine, even though my height off of the ground is similar to yours. It would be a question of how much moisture actually rises from the ground when the air above the decking is dry. When both sides of the decking are wet, the cupping forces should be minimal.


    Bookmark   October 14, 2012 at 10:54AM
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Thanks kas. By internal chemicals are you referring to Tannins or are there various other chemicals in there?

    Bookmark   October 15, 2012 at 3:05PM
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A brief search suggests that there are several tannins of two types, but to say more than that I would have to parrot a 1944 analytical chemistry paper. Only the first page appears for free on-line and I didn't delve further. Other sources indicate that a reaction with water of some of the tannins causes the black stains.

While I had believed from my own experience that oxalic acid didn't solve the black stain problem, one source indicated that the oxalic acid has to be mixed using hot water, so that may work.


    Bookmark   October 15, 2012 at 7:48PM
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Mangaris is not a species of wood but a marketing name under which the species sold is likely Red Balau or Dipterocarpaceae Shorea Spp. The problem is that there are so many subspecies of shorea and the only subspecies that is rated highly durable like ipe is shorea laevis which is yellow in color.. Red Balau is rated as moderately durable. It appears that you have a poorly ventilated deck. In those cercumstances best results typically come from using 5/4x4 Ipe decking or using 24''x24'' deck tiles both options of which are typically recommended for poorly ventilated roof decks as well.


    Bookmark   October 16, 2012 at 12:05PM
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Have you looked into garapa as an alternative to ipe?

Also, given the low height, why not do a patio instead of a deck?

    Bookmark   October 18, 2012 at 1:49PM
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