Black Locust Decking...An Alternative to IPE

May 28, 2024

Black Locust Lumber decking is a product of one of America’s most unique native trees.

We will attempt to guide  you on the pathway of making an informed decision on your next decking project.The following topics will be discussed, environmental benefits of using Black Locust Lumber decking. Also the health benefits, as this is a chemical free product. We will also go over  Black Locust Lumber decking in comparison to other decking options.

In this article we will go over some cool facts about Black Locust Decking, along with installation, dimensions and care needs for your Black Locust Lumber decking.

Hopefully this will assist you in making your next decking project a Black Locust Lumber Deck.

The Problem with IPE

Ipe has many attractive qualities that lure in many deck buyers. The fear of insects, inclement weather effects and rot by owners make IPE a very viable source to deck builders. The problem is not the trees hardiness or longevity in as much as its the sourcing. IPE trees are rare in there natural environments. They are over harvested and not responsibly grown.  Questionable logging permits combined with reckless illegal logging of Ipe and other tropical hardwood trees are causing damage beyond repair to the Amazon region.

The high value of Ipe makes it profitable for illegal loggers to expand operations deep with the Amazon forests. 

These unlawful actions have resulted in construction of unlawful roads that are adding to the further decline of the forest and biodiversity.

Brazil’s Ipe tree is one the most valued and sought after tropical hardwood in the world. 

The majority of Ipe is exported to the USA and European markets primarily for Decking applications in the building industry. 

Eco conscious architects are now looking for alternatives due to this dilemma. Black Locust Lumber, also known as Robinia, Acacia and Robiniapseudoacacia in other parts of the world is a strong and long lasting alternative to Ipe. It also is a great alternative for other tropical hardwoods such as Cumuru, Mahogany and Purpleheart. Black Locust Lumber is produced under US Forestry standards along with the Lacey Act.

Fortunately, Black Locust Lumber Decking has all the same long term benefits of illegally logged Ipe and the tropical hardwoods. However it doesn't come with the social and negative environmental impacts.

NO Toxic Chemicals Required

Historically, Black Locust was known for agricultural use. Black Locust Fence Posts could endure for up to 100 years in the soil. This is due to flavonoids in the heartwood of the durable and long lasting hardwood. It is also an excellent tree planting source for use of erosion control within marginal soil areas. Since Black Locust is a legume, when planted, it affixes nitrogen in the soil to improve the overall quality.

Another amazing and interesting fact, Black Locust also is known for its Honey, a primary health source, rich in antioxidants. These specific antioxidants have been known and proven to reduce health risks in certain physical ailments.

 Black Locust, has many uses, and is known for being naturally rot resistant, Therefore there is no need or requirement of chemical treatments such as oils and stains.

These harsh chemicals not only are damaging to the overall environment but also to the overall human health.

The application of oils and stains add no additional benefits other than aesthetics and the creation of high maintenance over time.


All other Black Locust Lumber alternatives for decking such as, Thermally Modified, Acetylated, Composite Wood decking and Pressure Treated decking, all require maintenance with stains and oils all containing some levels that have toxic properties.

Many of the applied surface treatments are used to enhance the appearance and reduce surface cracks.These applications cause increased maintenance and costs both in labor and materials. Most importantly, the exposure to these toxic substances are both unhealthy and not environmentally friendly.

Any of these non-essential treatments will require renewal every 2-3 years depending on the ultra violet rays from sun exposure.

I have found that If your deck is facing southwest, you can expect increased maintenance  due to the orientation of the sun.If you want to compare Black Locust decking to other alternatives available for purchase, Black Locust decking has minimal to no maintenance requirements.


I find Black Locust decking to be some of the most beautiful decking available. Black Locust decking in itself, is aesthetically pleasing both to the eye and for its comfort.

Even in the hottest climates, this natural hardwood maintains a much cooler surface.

With time, the Black Locust Lumber decking will develop a beautiful silvery grey patina color. 

Unlike the tropical hardwoods, Black Locust Lumber decking provides a much higher slip resistance than that of the more oily Ipe and other tropical hardwoods.

This makes Black Locust decking an ideal choice around pools and docks which will assist in decreasing slip and fall hazards in those areas. Many of the tropical hardwoods, including Ipe, require an anti-slip profile surface and is not necessary or required for Black Locust Decking.

Do you have a need or requirement for acquiring FSC Certified Black Locust Decking?

We at Black Locust Lumber have been an FSC member for decades. The Forest Stewardship Council is a non-profit global certification.

This certifying standard ensures that your Black Locust Lumber Decking has met the highest of FSC requirements for sustainable wood.

  Proper forestry management, that is environmentally conscious and socially beneficial to the surrounding communities is met with the toughest standards.


When using all outdoor wood, especially Black Locust Lumber Decking, it is highly recommended that all field cuts by your contractor be end sealed .  The use of an end sealer will greatly reduce end checking and splitting in your final finished Black Locust Lumber Decking.

This extremely simple and extra step will assist in assuming a successful and beautifully completed Black Locust Decking project.


Black Locust Lumber has been producing Black Locust Decking for decades. The standard lengths are from 8 feet through 12 feet.The traditional thickness of Black Locust Lumber Decking is from 5/4 inches to 2 inches. 

As a custom manufacturer, we are also able to produce material for restoration projects.  

Over the years, we have been fortunate to supply many tongue and grooved Black Locust Decks for porches that are both notable and historical.

Black Locust Lumber Decking is available in standard profiles. These profiles include radius edge, eased edge and a grooved edge that is specific to the hidden fastener system.

The important thing when considering the hidden fastener system is to know that this specific system is only available to the 5/4 inch Black Locust Lumber Decking.

As a custom manufacturer and primary producer of Black Locust Lumber Decking, we have the capability to produce custom profiles for your project.

These custom profiles would require assistance from our Black Locust Lumber Decking specialists.

Maintenence for Black Locust Decking

Care requirements for Black Locust Lumber Decking are quite simple.

An annual cleaning would consist of a bucket of warm water, bleach and a stiff bristle brush.

This method will easily remove environmental grime and dirt and will not cause damage to your Black Locust Lumber Decking.

Another alternative, would be to utilize a power washer.

We do recommend, you take the proper precautions when using bleach and water.

Safety glasses along with gloves are a good practice when cleaning your Black Locust Lumber Decking!

A quick rinse with water will leave you with a Black Locust Lumber Deck that looks like new!

This method is a easy and efficient way to clean your Deck.

When you're thinking about your next decking project, Black Locust decking should be at the top of your list. We at Black Locust Lumber would love to help you with your next project. Call one of our specialists today. › plant_health › lacey_act

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