Tropical hardwood offers the highest quality in exterior decking and cladding applications.  When examining the natural properties of tropical hardwoods such as ipe, tiger wood, and balau, to name a few, it becomes quickly apparent that little else compares in quality.  This is the sole reason why tropical hardwoods have been so heavily sought after for so many years.

ipe deck

In exterior applications, such as decking and cladding, the characteristics a consumer searches for include rot, insect, mold, and mildew resistance, dimensional stability, strength, density, and of course beauty.  The inert properties of tropical hardwoods perform admirably in each aspect.  However, every single board of tropical hardwood bears with them an extensive cost, and not just on your wallet.  Instead let us consider the heavy costs of deforestation.


The only downside to tropical lumber is its incredibly slow growth rate.  It takes approximately eighty to one hundred years for an tropical hardwood tree, such as ipe, to reach maturity, for lumber milling purposes.  Currently, according to National Geographic, about thirty percent of the Earth’s land area is covered with forest.  You may be thinking to yourself that seem like plenty.  However, consider that at our current rates of deforestation, Earth’s rainforests could be completely wiped out within one hundred years.

What does this mean?  Deforestation has a massive effect on our weather, wildlife, water cycles, and overall environment that are so commonly talked about in the media, by politicians, and by celebrities.  What is being failed to mention is we could also experience many of these amazing species of lumber going extinct.

Rose Wood

Imagine you are a farmer in, for example, Brazil.  You make roughly $10,000 a year and on your property you spot a mature ipe tree that you know is worth upwards of $10,000.  In that situation, it would seem to be illogical to not double your annual income to provide a better life for your children and wife.  The point made here is supply of these tropical hardwoods can only be affected by the demand, as finding an tropical hardwood tree in impoverished countries is comparable to winning the lottery, but with slightly better odds. Doesn’t the government restrict these practices?  The short answer is they do.  The FSC, Forestry Stewardship Council, has been working hard to implement a system to manage the industry.  One problem is in the source countries where money is so scarce, ethics and rules can possibly get overlooked for monetary gain.  Another problem is the massive area they are trying to control literally includes every continent but Antarctica. Fortunately for all, there is now a solution on the market.  Kebony is a truly remarkable product.  Using an innovative process coined Kebonization, Kebony transforms sustainably grown pines and maple into a product that looks, acts and feels almost identical to ipe. 

Kebony Decking

For starters, pines and maples are sustainably forested all over the world.  Soft wood trees, while lacking the desirable traits of tropical hardwoods for exterior uses, grow to maturity in only thirty to fourty years.  Next, Kebony takes the highest grade of lumber and infuses the sapwood of that lumber in a product called furfural alcohol.  Furfural alcohol is a bio-base created from processing sugar cane, corn, and various other crops.  After the wood is fully impregnated with the furfural alcohol it is cured.  Through the curing process polymerization occurs between the furfural alcohol and the wood as  a result the wood's cell structure is permanently modified adopting premium characteristics.  This process creates little pollution into the atmosphere and is safe to the touch as it is chemical free.  The finished product, Kebony, is truly beautiful inside and out.

 Key points not to be forgotten:

  • At the current rate of deforestation Earth’s forests will be gone in less than one hundred years.
  • Tropical hardwoods, while heavily sought after for their natural characteristics, some, including ipe, take eighty to one hundred years to reach maturity for lumber.
  • Soft woods such as pines and maples take only thirty to forty years to reach maturity for lumber milling purposes.
  • Some tropical hardwoods are already endangered and most will eventually become extinct.
  • Only lower demand for tropical hardwoods can impact the supply.
  • Kebony is the sustainable solution to tropical hardwood decking and cladding.
  • Kebony consists of soft wood species such as pines and maple impregnated with a biobase called furfural alcohol that comes from crops like corn and sugar cane.
  • Kebony compares almost directly to ipe in every aspect including appearance.

Thanks for reading and having concern for our environment.  If you would like to purchase Kebony for your next decking or cladding project contact Homestead Timbers by email at or toll free at 1-866-800-0999.  If you are interested in learning more about Kebony and the process click here.