6770 Buford Highway NE
Atlanta, GA 30340
The internet has spoken and there are questions to be answered! No problem, we’re here for you! Ipe Siding is a popular option for siding, but many people just don’t know much about it, and contradicting information on the internet makes research even more difficult. Below are the most common questions about Ipe, Ipe Siding, and some other helpful FYI’s we think you’d want to know.
How much does Ipe Wood Cost?
Ipe comes in many shapes, sizes, and qualities. The most common Ipe to be found is probably Ipe for decking. As decking, it is most often milled to a 1×6 or a 5/4×6. Dimensional Ipe is also available in profiles such as, 1×4, 2×4, 2×6, 2×2, 4×4, etc..Premium Grade standard 1×6 decking, at the time of writing this, is somewhere between $7.00-$9.75 psf, depending on whether or not the boards need grooves for hidden fasteners. Ipe Siding can run anywhere from $9.50 psf (for Shiplap siding) to $15 psf (for RainScreen Siding). Learn more about these differences, below.
Is Ipe the Same as Brazilian Walnut?
Brazilian Walnut is a term that is often used for Ipe. The name, “Brazilian Walnut” isn’t scientific or specific, by any means, but it is fairly common. There are other terms that are used for Ipe, including branded and trademarked names. Some people mistakenly call Ipe, Brazilian Teak. This isn’t necessarily wrong, but the term Brazilian Teak is most often the common name for Ipe’s little brother, Cumaru. Here is a list of Brazilian Hardwood species with their common names,
- Ipe– Brazilian Walnut
- Cumaru– Brazilian Teak
- Jatoba- Brazilian Cherry
- Tigerwood– “That wood with the stripes”
- Garapa– Brazilian Oak
- Massaranduba– Bulletwood/Brazilian Redwood
- Purpleheart– Purple Wood
How to install Ipe Siding?
There are two common types of Ipe Siding, and they have notable differences; Ipe Shiplap Siding and Ipe RainScreen Siding.
Ipe Shiplap Siding Installation
Ipe Shiplap Siding, is a lap-over design that requires that face-screw the boards. Starting from the bottom, you’ll work upwards while using screws in the hidden portion at the top of the profile. The second screw location will be at the bottom of the boards, on the exposed face, just above the screw at the top of the board underneath it. In short, two screws per board; one is concealed, one is exposed. The exposed screw will show. Furring strips must be utilized behind the siding product, for exterior applications. The Pro’s- it’s generally more cost-effective than RainScreen products. The Con’s- Screws are visible unless Plugs are used, which is very labor-intensive; You must Pre-Drill the holes for the screws; The Ship-Lap system is air-flow restrictive which can contribute to system failure, eg. cupping or bunching.
Ipe RainScreen Siding Installation
Most often, customers do not want to see the face-screws on their siding product. That’s where RainScreen Siding comes in. Ipe RainScreen Siding has grooves on the bottom of the profile to accommodate a hidden clip instead of two screws. As with the Ship-Lap system, if being installed outdoors, RainScreen Siding also requires the use of furring strips. RainScreen Siding is much easier to install than the ship-lap version because it does not require pre-drilling and screwing through the Ipe. Pro’s- Very easy to install; Allows optimal airflow between the boards. Con’s- a little more expensive than ShipLap.
The video below shows how Ipe RainScreen Siding is installed! Or see our detailed Installation Instructions, here.
Does Ipe Wood Crack?
This is a bit of a tricky question to answer. First off, there are different types of “cracks”. There is also a differentiation between “cracking”, “checking” and “splitting” that most people are unaware of, regarding Ipe. A crack would be a line, seen from the surface of the board, that penetrates deeply and in rare cases, all the way through the board. Cracks are NOT common in Premium Grade Ipe and do not always indicate a significant loss of structural integrity. Checking can be described as very small hair-line cracks on the face of the boards. Checks do not penetrate deeply, cause no loss of structural integrity, and are very common, especially with Ipe that has been exposed to sunlight. They are nearly imperceivable with periodic oiling. Splits are typically characterized similarly to cracks, but splits will go through the entire board and typically occur when screws are used without pilot holes. Pre-drilling is necessary, in most cases, to avoid splitting the wood.
Do Termites Eat Ipe?
No. This is an easy one. Termites do not, cannot, and will not eat Ipe. In our many years’ experience dealing with these materials, we have never heard of this happening. The wood is simply too hard and these domestic pests aren’t equipped for it.
Is Ipe Better than Teak?
Teak is the Common Name for lumber from the tree, Tectona grandis, a species native to Southeast Asia. This material has been a staple in shipbuilding and furniture making, for hundreds of years. You may have heard the term Teak, on a boat, describing the platform off the back. So, back to the question, is Ipe better? Yes. According to The Wood Database, Teak has a hardness rating of 1,070 lbf. Ipe, according to the same source earns a whopping 3,510 lbf! Other reliable sources rate it at 3,684 lbf. This means Ipe is over 3 times harder than Teak. Hardness is the main determinant of longevity. Also, Ipe has much more character and variety of coloring than does Teak. Finally, at the time of writing this, the lowest grade Teak (per board foot) is more expensive than Premium Grade Ipe (per board foot). So, is it better? Well, Ipe is more durable, lasts longer, is more beautiful, and costs considerably less. Clearly, the answer is yes.
How Often Should I Oil My Ipe Deck?
Ipe is naturally resistant to all of the common causes of deterioration that domestic lumber species are vulnerable to; insect attack, moisture, mold, rotting, wear and tear, and fire. This said Ipe doesn’t NEED the oil to outperform the competition, by decades. In the sunlight, without periodic oiling, the Ipe will turn a silvery grey. When the deck is cleaned and oiled again, the Ipe comes back to it’s natural colors. How often the oil needs to be applied, to maintain the color, depends largely on how much sunlight the Ipe is exposed to. Most people, with Ipe decks for instance, apply the oil annually. I would recommend oiling Ipe Decks in the spring after the heavy pollen passes through. This way, the deck looks its prime during the seasons it will be most used, Spring/Summer/Fall. However, you are not limited by doing it ONLY once per year, you could do it more often than that, without issue. So, the short answer to the question is, however often you like, but not more than once a month and most people do it once a year. For more information about cleaning and oiling Ipe, watch the video and read the content on the BWD website.
How Strong is Ipe?
Ipe is often ranked as one of the top 10 hardest woods in the world. As far as commercially available woods, Ipe is probably #1. But, how strong is it? It has a similar hardness rating as concrete. Ipe doesn’t float when placed in water. The crushing strength of concrete usually ranges from 17-28 MPa, sometimes as high as 70 MPa, compared to Ipe’s crushing strength of 95 MPa. For those of you who are familiar with structural engineering units, Ipe has a Modulus of Elasticity of about 22,760 MPa. Compare that to High Strength Concrete, at about 30,000 MPa. All this said, Ipe is VERY strong, resistant to wear and tear, and extremely durable.
How to do Vertical Ipe Siding?
Most Ipe Siding systems are designed to be installed horizontally, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be run vertically. It can be done and it has been done… many times. However, there are two very important considerations that should be made when running the siding vertically; Furring strips and Anchoring the boards.
Furring strips are used to stand the Siding product off the sheathing/membrane. This allows for appropriate airflow behind the boards and is very important for drainage behind the Siding system. Typical furring strips are made from pressure-treated pine, of 3/4″-1″ thickness. Usually, furring strips are run vertically, which helps the water run down, between them. When the siding is being run vertically, the furring strips must run horizontally. As you can imagine, this does NOT allow water to run down. Instead, the water can potentially sit on the furring strips promoting rot and deterioration. So, what do you do? Use a different type of furring strip. One option, use PVC material. PVC trim boards are sold in sheets and can be ripped into strips and used as furring strips. PVC is not porous so, it can still hold water on top which is not desirable, but at least it’s more resistant to moisture-related deterioration than standard wood furring strips. You could install them diagonally, which would help allow a path for the water. Alternatively, there are different types of “porous” furring strips, specifically for this problem. Just type “porous furring strips” into a Google search and you’ll many different products. These furring strips are specifically designed to allow water to run through them. There are also drainage “mats” or systems that are not furring “strips”, instead they are meant to be used on the full coverage of the area. They are great at promoting drainage, but some are too restrictive of air-flow.
Once you have overcome the Furring Strips dilemma, you’ll have to figure out how to “anchor” the siding boards, particularly with RainScreen Siding products. A significant benefit of the RainScreen products is that you don’t have to drill or screw into the Ipe wood. Instead, the boards simply sit on the clips. The clips are fastened through the furring strips, into the studs, to hold the weight. But theoretically, if the system is turned on its side, the boards will just slide down between the clips. If there is a brick or concrete ledge at the bottom for the boards to sit on, that could work to help to hold them in place. Otherwise, you’ll have to use some sort of trim board below the siding boards. This piece of trim should be the same thickness of the siding and be fastened on top of the furring strips, all the way into the studs. It is important that they are securely fastened all the way to the studs if they are holding a lot of weight.
What Does it Look Like When Ipe Siding is Aged?
This is a very popular question. Many customers want the grey and silver appearance of weathered wood with the durability and longevity of Ipe. When Ipe is exposed to sunlight, it naturally turns a beautiful grey/silver color. UV Oil, like Messmer’s UV Plus, helps to maintain the natural rich brown colors and prevents the greying effect of the sun. If you want the grey and silver appearance, simply skip the oiling. Change your mind and want the rich brown colors back? Simply apply the oil. Easy as that.
How long will it take for Ipe to turn grey?
It really depends on the amount of sunlight that boards are exposed to. It could be as fast as a couple of months, or as long as a year. Southern exposed areas are likely to turn grey more quickly than northern exposed areas, for instance. But rest assured, if they are exposed to sunlight and oil is not applied, they will eventually turn grey and silver.
For a very detailed progression of Ipe in sunlight, watch the video below. I put Ipe, and a handful of other Brazilian Hardwood species, on the roof of our shop for a few months and tracked the changes the boards went through. It also shows what happens when Messmer’s UV Plus oil is applied to them after they have turned grey.