Your neighbors just installed a gorgeous new Ipe deck, but exactly how much did it cost them? There’s no doubt, it’s stunning to look at, and imagine the BBQ’s you’d host if you had a deck like that.
Unfortunately, your neighbor was too busy bragging to fill you in on the details, so you’ll have to do a little digging on your own.
Let’s take a closer look to find out if Ipe is right for you.
What’s Special about Ipe?
Ipe (pronounced Eee-pay) is an exotic Brazilian hardwood that’s light red to brown in color. The boards have interlocking grains that highlight the natural beauty of this wood species. Ipe wood has no visible knots and is smooth to the touch.
This coveted wood has been used in high-end projects like the Coney Island boardwalk and The Treasure Island Resort in Las Vegas. Luxury decking material like Ipe will add value to any outdoor living space.
Ipe is three times harder than oak. Its nickname is Ironwood and has a Janka rating of 3600. This wood won’t scratch or dent like many other decking materials.
It’s as durable as PVC but without the look and feel of plastic. Ipe decking is slip resistant and complies with ADA safety standards. It’s also impervious to bugs, mildew, and mold.
Ipe Decking has an average life expectancy of 75-100 years. Most installs will last as long as you own your home.
Ipe requires little maintenance. In fact, most water sealers won’t stick to it. If you wish to keep the original amber coloring, you’ll need to apply an oil yearly. Otherwise, Ipe will naturally fade to a light gray tone over time.
How Much Does Ipe Cost?
Beauty often comes with a high price tag, and Ipe is no exception. The decking can cost anywhere between $4 – $8 per linear foot without installation. Ipe’s cost is based on several factors and can fluctuate.
Due to increasing demands and dwindling supplies, Ipe is highly regulated. Governments impose strict guidelines on how this wood is harvested and milled. Each board must be traced to its origin and tested for quality, which leads to increased production costs.
The Forest Stewardship Council is an organization tasked with overseeing Ipe production. They work with governments and contractors to ensure responsible production.
The cost of Ipe also changes due to climate conditions. During the rainy season, the price of this material skyrockets. It’s not unusual to see an increase of $2 to $3 per linear foot.
The size of the boards also affects the rate. Wider boards and unusual lengths will generally cost more than standard sizes. To secure the best prices, shop around at local lumber yards and check with individual suppliers.
When purchasing your Ipe decking be sure to ask about the quality. Top grade materials will always be the most expensive. If the decking is on sale or advertised at a bargain rate, insist on examining the boards before you place an order.
What Does an Ipe Deck Installation Cost?
Working with Ipe is cumbersome due to its weight and density. Ipe boards are three times heavier than Redwood lumber. Companies use larger crews for Ipe installs, with the added cost of labor passed on to the consumer.
Typical costs for installing an Ipe deck range from $8 – $12 per linear foot. The labor rate pushes this project out of reach for many homeowners. Since this wood is difficult for professionals to work with, it’s not advised as a DIY project.
Installers must use carbide saw blades to cut the wood. They’ll also have to drill pilot holes and install the deck using stainless steel screws. If they don’t take these extra steps, they will damage their equipment and your decking.
The crew must also check the integrity of the structure and ensure joists are spaced according to building codes. The foundation must safely support the deck, to ensure it won’t collapse or shift. Cutting corners is not an option, and fines can be steep.
The last thing you want is to install your expensive decking, only to have it collapse. Someone could get injured, and you could get sued. Always play it safe, secure the proper permits and have a professional install any structural improvements.
If cost is not your primary concern, you can’t go wrong with Ipe decking. It’s beautiful, durable and meant to last a lifetime. It’s a bit more expensive than Cedar, and has its own share of Ipe downsides, but doesn’t require the upkeep and maintenance.
Ipe doesn’t have to be restained every year, but oiling your deck is optional. It’s so dense that insects and rodents can’t penetrate it. It’s naturally scratch resistant and can withstand heavy furniture without denting.
However, it is a pricey decking material, especially for larger areas. If you are not sold on Ipe decking, Tigerwood and Cumaru are less expensive options. They are both Brazillian hardwoods and have many of the same characteristics of Ipe.
If you were installing a new deck, which material would you choose?