Ipe is considered as the highest quality, best natural wood decking material on the market today. Ipe lumber is one of our most popular and high quality choices we stock at Brazilian Wood Depot. On this page, you'll learn more about Ipe wood decking, the benefits it provides and other useful information to help get you started.
Benefits of Ipe Decking
Ipe wood, which is also known alternately as Brazilian Walnut, Diamond Decking, Ironwood or Pau lope, is extremely durable and sturdy, with a Janka hardness of 3680. That's three times the strength of a typical plastic-composite decking, while providing all of the aesthetic benefits of a natural, beautiful wood deck. Ipe is considered as an exotic hardwood. It is naturally resistant to rot and decay and 8 times harder than California Redwood.
That strength comes in part through its density. Did you know that Ipe is heavy enough to sink in water? It is. Importantly, it has a class A fire rating, which is amazingly the same rating as concrete. Ipe provides a safe and long-lasting choice.
Ipe is so durable and can last for more than 75 years. Consider this: if you love it in grey then it would need zero maintenance. It is also naturally resistant to bugs and so dense that even termites can't infest it. In fact, the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory gives it the highest rating possible for termite resistance. It is thought that Ipe wood requires lower maintenance than composite materials. It is naturally resistant to mold and fungi.
Ipe, well known for its natural beauty, features a tight grain with pronounced patterns with few to zero visible knots. Ipe is striking enough to be used for beautiful artistic projects within the home, such as high quality cabinets or interior trim, which provides a rare combination considering its strength and durability which easily serves larger commercial needs as well.
Ipe hardwood lasts a life time (40 – 100 years), bugs cannot eat it, it will never rot, and some of the species have the same fire rating as concrete. It's color can be preserved by applying a protective deck oil finish periodically, and the color can be restored if it grays after several years of being untreated.
Ipe (which is pronounced EE-pay) is world-renowned for its superior characteristics and properties. The color of Ipe heartwood is a rich brown with red and amber hues. Ipe wood decking grain is extremely dense and tight. Ipe wood grain can be both wavy and straight. Due to the wood's fine texture and interlocking grain, ipe offers superior slip resistance.
Ipe decking is incredibly versatile. Its durability makes it a natural choice for commercial projects, such as high-traffic, large-scale beach piers or boardwalks, or even public benches. However, its beauty, strength and low needs for maintenance also make it an advantageous choice for a home deck.
A major benefit of Ipe decking is that it does not require the usage of preservatives or treatments. Ipe wood is naturally resistant to a variety of common decking issues, such as decay and rot, insect infestation, and more.
Ipe decking boards come in numerous colors offering a natural and varied look which ranges from a light or tan brown, to dark olive or even a rich, nearly black, brown.
An Ipe deck compares favorably to two of the most popular, traditional choices for residential decks, pine softwood and composite-plastic decking.
Consider that Ipe wood decking has the aforementioned 3,680 Janka hardness rating, compared to 690 for pine and between 940 and 1,390 for composite-plastic. It also leads the way in shear strength, at 2,060, compared to 1,370 or between 561 and 1,010 respectively, and bending strength, at an enormous 25,400 psi, compared to just 9,900 to 14,500, or 1,423 to 4,500, for pine and composite respectively.
Working with Ipe Decking
Ipe dries easily, and common concerns such as warping and cracking are minimal to nonexistent. With its great density and strength, shrinkage after installation is also minimal.
Joists and support beams can consist of more affordable pressure treated pine. Ipe decking provides protection from the elements, which improves the durability of the pine underneath, and allowing you to save money.
Utilizing spacers or stickers between boards will allow air to provide natural drying, and climate acclimation after shipping is also recommended before installation -- as little as less than one eighth of an inch of space should be left between boards. Additionally, Ipe wood decking should have room for ventilation underneath the deck boards themselves.
Other design and installation considerations for Ipe decking will include choices in fasteners, such as whether or not to use hidden fasteners, and choice in deck railings and balusters, or vertical pickets. Brazilian Wood Depot specializes in helping our clients with such decisions and in learning more about their options. So, for even more great information and resources on Real Ipe, utilize the following:
|RealIpe||CCA-Treated Pine||Composite Decking|
|Movement in Service||Low||High||High|
|Fire Rating Class||High||Varies||Low|
|Weight per Cu Ft.||69 lbs.||35 lbs.||60-64 lbs.|
|Bending Strength||25,400 psi||9,900-14,500 psi||1,423-4,500 psi|
How does Ipe decking compare to Composite decking? Visit our Composite Comparison page.
Ipe Deck Tiles are the ideal solution for rooftop, patio and deck top transformation into an enjoyable hardwood deck. They are easy to install, beautiful, durable, cost effective, and easy to maintain. You can transform your garden, patio, roof or balcony, with these easily installed ipe deck tiles. They are also used in large commercial areas like bars, restaurants, exhibition areas and office buildings with heavy pedestrian traffic. Visit our Ipe Deck Tiles page for more information on this beautiful and versatile decking solution.
Thoughts about finishing your Ipe Deck
To stain or not to stain, that is the question.If you are planning to stain, we recommend using Messmers Ipe Hardwood Deck Stain will help protect and condition your Ipe deck as it is specially formulated for Ipe. It comes in two colors and helps keep a natural appearance. The finish protects the wood well and contains transparent iron oxide pigment. This pigment absorbs UV radiation yet at the same time will allow visible light to pass through it. The staining results you'll get are a finish that highlights the natural beauty of the ipe wood and at the same time protects it. Your deck will not fade in the sun as this product has excellent resistance to UV degradation.
What if you should decide not to finish your deck? If you leave the ipe deck unfinished it will fade in sunlight in a natural, pleasing way. Your Ipe deck will still maintain it's strength and surface integrity. The deck won't rot, splinter up, or decay. Ipe decks, when left untreated, actually turn a pleasing silver or light gray color. A great natural look!
Choosing to finish your deck or leave it unfinished is a personal choice and you can't go wrong either way. Brazilian Wood Depot is here to help you decide whether or not to stain your Ipe deck. We will be happy to discuss your options.
Remember, Ipe has an extremely long life in the outdoors. It can last up to 75 years and, in most cases, will last more than 40 years regardless of the type of application chosen. Incredibly, that is up to 7 times as long as pressure treated wood is rated for. If you are looking to build something that will last for a long time, Ipe is about the best choice you could possibly make.
For more information on Ipe deck installation and deck building tips, visit our Deck Installation page.
For Ipe deck design tips visit our Cutting Edge Tips Blog.
For information on fasteners, railings and finishes visit the Deck Accessories page.
At Brazilian Wood Depot, we also place an emphasis on the proper shipment of our lumber, to ensure that your Ipe decking material arrives in the quality and excellent condition you deserve, preventing costly setbacks, stresses and inconveniences. With special wood crates for shipping and transportation, low overhead costs and large number of shipments, we can pass on great savings to you, while ensuring a smooth delivery process. We deliver Ipe across the entire United States.
Brazilian Wood Depot is the sole U.S. distributor of RealWood - lumber which has passed rigid testing standards to be of the highest grade, and other important industry standards and benchmarks. To see more about the assurances of wood grading, milling and origin that the Real Wood™ brand provides, please go to RealWoodDepot.com. Any other provider of Real Wood™, including Real Cumaru™, Real Jatoba™, Real Tigerwood™, Real Garapa™, Real Massaranduba™, and Real Ipe™ has been supplied by Brazilian Wood Depot.
Ultimately, with Real Ipe for your home, you'll be receiving a beautiful, hassle-free and long lasting choice that will make your deck the envy of the neighborhood, but also simply a wise investment.
Call 770-242-0045 for any other information or for specific pricing on Ipe.
Compare Ipe Decking to Plastic/Composite Decking
Ipe is one of the hardest, commercially available, woods in the world. With a Janka hardness rating of 3680, Ipe can withstand the most extreme elements and commercial wear and tear. Currently, there are no decking options that compare to Ipe’s many benefits. Plastic Decking is one alternative, but it has many downsides. To start with the obvious, Trex and other Plastic or Composite Decking alternatives offer no natural features. Plastic or Composite options are either all grey or all beige or somewhere in between. All the boards will be exactly the same color with the exact same printed grains. Ipe Decking and other Brazilian Hardwood Decking offer only real, natural wood colors with real, natural grains. This means a beautiful variation of boards with each a unique grain pattern on every deck. The next downside to Plastic or Composite Decks is their inability to be repaired. If a board(s) gets damaged, scratched, stained or broken, the damaged piece cannot be fixed because Plastic and Composite Decking fades with time and exposure to the elements. If you were to replace one board on a Plastic Deck or Composite Deck, it would stick out, very obviously, from the other boards. The new boards would be the 'manufactured' color, while the others would be faded. This disparity will never even out. Moreover, Plastic and Composite Decking cannot be pressure washed or sanded to restore color. You are never really able to bring a Plastic or Composite Deck back to its original condition without replacing all of the boards.
Ipe Decks, on the other hand, can easily be brought back to their original condition. Keeping with the scenario outlined above, if a board on an Ipe Deck is damaged and needs to be replaced, all you would need to do is get a replacement board to put in its place. Because the color of Ipe varies from board to board, it would not stand out from the other boards at all. It’s natural variability in color lends to its advantage if a board ever needs to be replaced. Alternatively, if the board was scratched or stained, one merely needs to sand the surface of the stained board(s) and reapply the UV oil to bring them back to their original condition. Ipe Decks last forever not only because of their resilience to rot and decay, but also because the boards CAN be repaired, a quality not found in any other decking material. Another aspect that many people fail to consider before installing a deck is Heat Dispersion and Flammability. Wood is the best decking material for disbursing heat making the deck cooler to walk on and Ipe also has a similar fire rating to concrete. Basically, it’s a naturally non-combustible material. Plastic and composite decking is very hot and can create a fire hazard if installed outside a UV reflecting window.
Finally, the last major downfall of Plastic and Composite decks, sagging and drooping. The chemical combinations for Plastic and Composite decking options have changed over the years in an attempt to avoid problems like, insects, mold, and rot. Unfortunately, one problem that has yet to be tackled by even the most advanced Plastic or Composite Decks is sagging and drooping. Sagging and drooping refers to the pendulous deformation of deck boards between the joists. As far as longevity goes, this is the main problem for Plastic and Composite Decks. After several years, the chemical components in the decks breakdown which compromises the rigidity of the boards. It can compromise the strength in such a dramatic manner that the boards themselves loose their ‘straightness’ and droop between the joists. This is an extremely well-known problem for Plastic and Composite decks that has never been successfully addressed. Ipe Decking is 100% natural. There are no non-organic chemicals to breakdown. Ipe’s high density and hardness that lends to its’ incredible dimensional stability is why Ipe decks outperform Plastic and Composite decks in regard to longevity, 10 to 1. These are just a few reasons that Ipe Decks are the preferred choice over Plastic and Composite Decks. All considered, there really is no comparison between an Ipe Deck and a Plastic or Composite Deck.
Contact us with any questions on comparisons of Ipe and composite decking.