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10 Problems with IPE And How to Avoid Them
This is a blog article we wrote about common misconceptions and avoidable problems, with Ipe Decking. This is a great resource for first-timers and those with questions or concerns. You can find the full article at, https://www.bwdepot.com/10-ipe-problems/. Or use the navigation table below to skip directly to different sections of the article.
Working with Wood
All wood will shrink and expand at a far greater rate outside than indoors. So, a deck may end up buckling if boards are jammed together too tightly during installation. T&G decking is not indoor flooring and must not be installed too tightly. Standard decking should also be installed to leave some room for expansion because all wood displays minor shrinkage and expansion after installation.
All wood splinters. Wood workers are very familiar with this basic law. Common sense precautions should always be observed. For example, use gloves when handling and do not slide on wood decking or flooring.
Unlike traditional decks and porches, Brazilian hardwood does not need any painting or finishing. It will remain durable and rot resistant for a lifetime.Left unfinished, it will weather to a silvery gray. You can protect the hardwood from graying by applying a finish periodically. Some species may show black spots around screws if you do not finish your deck. In addition, metal tools, shavings or screws left over night on an unfinished deck may leave stains. Finish the deck for best results.
Messmer’s Hardwood Deck Oil out performs all other deck finishes that we’ve tried. Wait five to ten days after installation and apply only one coat of deck finish. Apply 2nd application after finish begins to fade, which could be as soon as six to eight months on decks that have full sun in southern climates and as long as 12 months for decks with limited sun exposure. Follow-up applications will be needed at progressively longer time periods between applications. Don’t apply a new coat of finish before deck begins to fade. This will prevent over application, which could result in a sticky finish.
During installation, apply wax emulsion to the ends of boards when cut to help prevent end checking.
Tongue and Groove Installation
Tongue and groove decking is a hybrid between a floor and an open deck and yields the best results when installed under a roof. It is blind nailed or screwed so that water can get thru. So, you must always allow for drainage and ventilation. Moisture trapped below the deck or underneath deck boards will cause cupping.
Because of the hardness and minimal movement of hard wood decking, T&G deck board joints do not need to meet on joists. Installing T&G decking with joints assures the look of indoor flooring while retaining the durability of outdoor decking completing its hybrid appeal. Always allow a 1/16th inch between the boards for expansion and contraction.
Visit the Documents page for more information on deck building, clips, fasteners, sealers, cleaners, railing options and more
For more interesting deck design ideas and tips visit the “Cutting Edge Design & Installation Tips“. Also, see our Documents page for more step-by-step installation directions and other best practices.
When designing your deck plan, you must provide for adequate ventilation to assure long term stability and avoid cupping. Proper air ventilation allows air to flow in from outside the deck area and under the joists to evaporate moisture. Gently sloping the soil under the deck away from the house and covering the soil with plastic is recommended for any type of deck installation. Allow a 1/8″ gap between standard deck boards for drainage and airflow.
NEVER install a subfloor underneath ANY decking. This will cause cupping. Fasten boards directly to the joists.
For screws, we recommend the high-quality, stainless steel “self-drilling” type or coated screws. Using lower quality fasteners can cause black staining. To install Brazilian hardwood decking, you must pre-drill a pilot hole and countersink to avoid splitting, even when using self-drilling screws. The Smart-Bit drills and counter-sinks the perfect hole for our brown Headcote SS screws.
Always ensure the connection between the floor and the main structure is flashed with MCQ compatible flashing and installed with MCQ compliant fasteners when using pressure-treated (PT) joists. You cannot use indoor flooring fasteners because the chemicals in PT will quickly destroy them. Stainless steel fasteners provide the best results. Because stainless steel is not as hard as steel and Brazilian decking is hard, pre-drilling is required when installing any Brazilian decking
The Deck Clip and the Ipe-Clip are two of the best-hidden fasteners available and BWD kerfs (grooves) decking to accommodate these fasteners. Screws must be installed at an angle through deck boards when using the Ipe Clip but can be installed without pre-drilling when using the Deck Clip. A BowWrench is handy for pulling boards together when installing decking.
ALWAYS use subfloor adhesive in addition to your fasteners when installing T&G decking or when using hidden fasteners to prevent any movement in the future.
How to Properly Address Butt-Joints
If you think that you want full length boards to avoid seams between the ends of your boards, you may want to consider some other options. Maybe it’s the rot on the ends of the boards you noticed when you took apart your old pressure treated (PT) deck that you’re trying to avoid on your new deck design. Premium hardwood ipe’, cumaru, garapa, jatoba, massaranduba and tigerwood decking is very hard and will NOT rot. Sealing the ends of the boards with wax emulsion during construction prevents end checking (cracking) too. So, seams between the ends of boards will not result in the rot that occurs on PT decks.
Getting past the concern about boards rotting on the ends allows for some interesting deck design and money saving opportunities. You can save money designing your deck allowing seams because fewer long boards 12’ and longer are milled and imported than shorter boards. By mixing your lengths with as little as one third of your lengths less than 12’, you can save up to 20% on the cost of your boards. I know that got your attention.
Borders and angled layouts are popular design features but other layouts can provide interesting deck designs leaving no seams without paying extra for long boards. This first design using different species of decking nicely breaks up a long deck that might otherwise look like a bowling alley. The 2nd design also uses different species and shorter boards in the middle. The section in the middle can be moved to the border to accent a doorway too.
Easing the Ends
You can also make your decking look like plank flooring by easing the ends of your deck boards. This is done by quickly rounding over the top edge of the ends to match the already eased edges as you install them. This actually accents the end joints and makes them match the edges. Here are two photos of beautiful jobs done by Atlanta contractor using eased ends.
While cumaru rosa, tigerwood, massaranduba and garapa are very consistent in color from board to board, ipe’ boards have more variety. If you install full length boards with a lot of variety, you may cause a “striped” effect. This is easily broken up using eased edges with board joints. This is especially noticeable on smaller or T&G decks. A damaged edge on a board leads to the loss of the entire board on decks designed with full length boards while decks with planned seams can easily use them by cutting out the damaged section. The ends of the boards in the photo below have been eased to match the edges of the divider board. They go together much better than if the square end butted up to the eased edge.
Use seams to enhance the beauty of your deck, create interesting deck designs, utilize hardwoods more responsibly and SAVE MONEY when building your hardwood deck. All of the comments and suggestions here focus on the use of ipe’, cumaru, massaranduba, garapa and tigerwood decking and don’t apply to composite and PT decking.