You’re ready to install a deck at your home and you want it to last, right? If so, consider Ipe wood decking.
Did you know: Ipe wood is the second-hardest wood in the world? This tough and durable wood has a high density that can withstand just about anything,
It’s no wonder Ipe decking’s popularity is growing among homeowners and business owners.
Not only is it used on countless home decks, famous spots such as the Atlantic Boardwalk and Las Vegas’s Treasure Island Resort have even used it.
In fact, the Coney Island Boardwalk in New York was constructed out of Ipe wood decking. It lasted for 70 years.
And after it was removed from Coney Island, the wood was repurposed. People have bought portions of Coney Island’s Ipe wood deck and used it to create tables, benches, and other projects.
Ipe wood, also known as Brazilian walnut, is an exotic South American Hardwood. It comes in a broad range of colors such as reddish brown, tan, olive, and dark brown.
Why is Ipe wood decking so popular? There are many reasons this is a top choice for wood decking, not the least of which its durability & its virtually impenetrability.
Ipe wood decking is a true investment in your home that will last for many years to come.
Ipe Wood Decking Pros
- Durability & longevity
- Resistant to rot, insects & more
- Minimal warping
- Beautiful colors & grains
- Doesn’t retain heat
1. It is a strong, high-density hardwood that ages well.
Ipe is an extremely durable, 100% natural wood decking.
In fact, it is eight times harder than California Redwood trees. And it is three times stronger than Cedar.
It is also twice and dense and five times as hard as pressure treated wood. Ipe has the same Class A fire rating as concrete or steel.
What does this mean? Ipe wood decking has a very low heat release rate.
And this strong wood decking will last a very long time. If you choose Ipe wood decking, you can expect it to last for 40 years or more.
So, there is a good chance your deck will remain at your home even longer than you will.
2. It is resistant to insects, mold, and fungus, and will not decay or rot.
Why does Ipe wood decking age so well? Part of the reason is that this tropical wood will not decay or rot.
How can this be? To start, Ipe is extremely hard.
Insects, mold, and fungus all love to inhabit soft, wet wood. So, they are not attracted to Ipe.
In fact, Ipe has the highest rating by the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory for termite resistance. How did they determine this level of termite resistance?
They tested the decking by placing it underground. Ipe wood decking resisted termite attacks while buried in the ground for 15 years.
No other wood decking can make this same claim.
3. Ipe comes in naturally long planks that have very little warping issues.
Ipe trees can grow to 150 feet tall and have a diameter of up to six feet wide. Although most Ipe trees are around 100 feet and two to three feet wide.
But even at these heights, the Ipe tree is very tall. So, naturally, you can find long planks.
With many other types of wood, you have the issue of warping with longer planks. Not so with Ipe.
Ipe is air-dried which leaves about a 14% to 18% moisture range. This range helps it remain stable outdoors.
And with proper acclimatization and installation, Ipe is a very stable, non-warping product.
4. This tropical wood comes in beautiful colors and grains.
Ipe is stunning to look at. It is a very tight-grained wood that has little to no knots in it.
Its coloring is beautiful and ranges from light chocolate brown to olive, and even some almost blackish colors.
Finishing it with oil will help it to keep its natural colors. Apply Ipe wood oil annually for a beautiful, like new shine.
However, without oil, it also ages to a lovely silver-gray color.
5. It stays cool and won’t retain heat.
Do you like to walk outside barefoot? In the heat of the summer, this isn’t always possible.
Or is it? If you have an Ipe wood deck, there’s a good chance you could walk around without shoes at noon in the middle of August.
While Ipe does have some warmth when the sun is out, it does not retain the heat. So, it never gets too hot to walk on.
6. Ipe is sustainable and eco-friendly.
Many suppliers of Ipe now implement practices from organizations such as the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and United States Green Building Council (USGB) to produce responsible decking materials.
You can even find FSC certified Ipe wood decking. What is FSC certification?
FSC certification protects fragile ecosystems, respects native economies and cultures, prevents illegal logging, and clear-cutting and pesticide use. It also implements sustainable forestry methods.
Some of these sustainable forestry methods include harvesting trees that no longer produce seeds and selective logging that promotes healthy forests.
Plus, Ipe is not treated with any chemicals or toxins as some other decking options are. So, it is a very eco-friendly and safe choice for your home.
Ipe Wood Decking Cons
1. It requires some maintenance.
While Ipe wood decking will not rot, or grow mold, or get overtaken by termites, it still needs a little routine Ipe cleaning & maintenance to keep it looking beautiful.
Over time its color can begin to turn gray. If you like this look, then you don’t really have to do anything.
However, if you want your deck to keep its beautiful red and brown hues, then you’ll need to apply a coat of stain to it annually.
2. You’ll have to pre-drill holes and fasteners.
One of the primary Ipe wood cons is the installation process. If you want to install an Ipe wood deck, you cannot lay the planks, then simply connect them. All your holes must be drilled into the wood before you begin to assemble it.
Does this sound like a strange way to build a deck? Perhaps.
However, Ipe wood is so hard that you need a carbide tip saw blade and special drill bits to get the job done. Otherwise, you will probably damage your existing tools.
Or, you can buy pre-grooved or tongue-and-groove planks and skip the tools altogether.
3. Ipe wood decking is not cheap.
Ipe is a hard, durable and high-quality natural wood. And this comes at a price.
Decking ranges anywhere from $2 to $14 a square foot on average.
Ipe is at the higher end of this range. In fact, the only decking that is generally more expensive is Aztec synthetic decking.
There are other exotic woods similar in hardness that are less expensive. And one of the primary reasons these other options are less is because there is not as much demand for them.
So, you could find something of similar quality for less money.
4. Some Ipe wood is illegally harvested.
While much of the Ipe wood that is harvested is done so with sustainable practices in mind, not all of it is.
Ipe and other tropical woods are sometimes harvested illegally. In fact, about 15% of the wood trade industry is harvested illegally.
So, make sure to choose your manufacturer carefully. It is best to go with one that offers FSC Certified Ipe decking.
Fortunately, many of the more reputable decking companies do offer FSC certified Ipe wood decking.
How to Find High Quality Ipe Wood Decking
Ipe is an extremely popular choice in wood decking, not only for homes but also for commercial properties.
And because of its demand, there is a problem with illegal harvesting (as mentioned earlier). This leads to shoddy business practices and unsustainable forestry.
The first step to finding high-quality Ipe wood decking is to purchase one from a business that sells responsibly harvested Ipe. Buying FSC certified wood is one way to guarantee that you are doing so.
Another tip for Ipe wood decking is to choose pre-grooved deck boards. These boards have already been set up to install a hidden fastener system.
Since Ipe is so hard to cut or drill into, a hidden fastener system will save you time and money on installation.
Large home improvement stores such as Lowe’s and Home Depot do not offer natural Ipe wood but instead, have Ipe composite wood.
This is synthetic. So, if true Ipe wood is what you are looking for, make sure that you know the difference.
Ipe Wood Decking Cost
As discussed before, Ipe wood decking is not cheap. It is one of the hardest woods available and it is in high demand.
On average, for a 100-square foot deck, you can expect to pay:
- $12.40 per square foot (minimum), OR
- $575 to $695 for materials.
- $575 to $635 for installation.
- TOTAL cost (minimum estimate) of around $1150 to $1330.
When calculating the costs, budget an additional 7% to 15% for any difficult configurations or patterns. And try to get multiple quotes from insured Ipe decking contractors.
Also, keep in mind that these prices are only estimates. Your actual Ipe wood cost will depend on factors such as where you live and where you purchase your decking from.
Ipe Wood Decking Durability
Ipe wood decking rates extremely high in durability. And it ranks very high on the Janka hardness test.
In fact, it is the second hardest wood in the world. And it can last 40 years or even longer.
Unlike other popular decking options such as red cedar and pressure treated wood, Ipe rates high in density and stability, and low for warping and splintering.
Plus, it is not vulnerable to mold, decay, bugs, or water damage like the other types are. So, if you are in the market for decking and want a highly durable, natural wood deck, Ipe is one of your best options.
Because the word “ipe” is an abbreviation and acronym in business, education, politics, and the financial sector, many people think that “ipe” is an abbreviation when it comes to wood. This is not the case,, as ipe is not an abbreviation, but rather a sort of nickname.
Names like Brazilian walnut, South American hardwood, Lapacho, and Tabebuia Serratifolia (one of the most popular species of tropical hardwood) are a mouthful, so many people simply use “ipe” as an umbrella term for this type of material.
Is Ipe decking more expensive than Trex?
Ipe decking typically costs a minimum of $12.40 per square foot, while Trex decking usually comes in at a budget of between $9 to $16 per square foot. This means that, depending on the brand you pick and your installation requirements, Trex decking is normally the cheaper option.
Does Ipe decking need to be sealed?
While you don’t have to seal ipe decking, it is recommended, especially if you plan on installing it outdoors. This is simply because exposure to the sun’s harsh UV rays can cause ipe to fade when left unsealed.
On the other hand, when left unsealed ipe turns a silver-gray color which many find appealing.
What is the best finish for Ipe decking?
When it comes to finishing an ipe deck, you have three different options: use a stain, use an oil, or leave it unfinished. You should avoid water-based and film finishes as these are not appropriate for ipe decks.
The best finish for ipe decking is Messmer’s UV Plus Deck Stain. This stain will protect the ipe decking from the sun’s UV rays, provide your deck with mildew resistance, and just one coat will make it safe for outdoor usage for between one and two years.
Ipe Wood Decking Reviews
Advantage Trim and Lumber is one of the leading international suppliers of exotic hardwood flooring and decking. The company has been in business for over 17 years and offers prices close to wholesale online.
They provide sustainable decking, hardwood siding, lumber, and flooring. And they are a certified FSC supplier.
Most of the online reviews of this company have been favorable citing high-quality products and service.
Advantage offers several varieties of Ipe including standard planks, pre-grooved decking, tongue and groove, dimensional Ipe lumber, and other specialty pieces.
Altruwood is a company that is committed to provided responsibly harvested lumber products to its customers. It has been FSC certified since 2004, the same year the company was founded.
The company is headquartered in Portland, Oregon. They are an industry leader for procuring difficult source materials.
They sell unfinished Ipe wood decking in a variety of lengths ranging from six feet to 16 feet. And all the Ipe wood decking that they sell is FSC certified.
East Teak Fine Hardwoods, based out of Tacoma, WA offers a variety of fine hardwood species, including Ipe.
The company began in the 1970s with a focus on the marine and boat building industry. It revolutionized industry standards with its just-in-time millwork and custom mouldings.
East Teak has since expanded beyond the marine industry to sell fine hardwoods for a variety of purposes.
They offer a wide selection of Ipe wood including pre-grooved, tongue-and-groove, rain screen, and custom profiles.
Mataverde has been a building materials supplier for over 60 years.
The company offers a variety of wood deck options, including Ipe wood. Their Ipe is specifically harvested from Northern Brazil.
In addition to standard Ipe decking, Mataverde also sells tongue-and-groove, pre-grooved, and FSC certified options.