I’ve advocated using ipe—a hardwood—for exterior wood projects. Here’s a progression that shows how the color properties change when it’s left unsealed.
The first shot shows our deck just after it was finished in 2004. The steps and main deck are ipe. The skirting and pergola are cedar. The handyman hero is bushed.
Close-up of fresh ipe, with critter lounging.
A couple of years later with basking tabby.
And last year—4 years after installation. Note that the cedar and the ipe grey out similarly.