The Definitive Guide to Ipe Decking - Dallas Deck Craft
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The Definitive Guide to Ipe Decking

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What is Ipe Decking?

For the discerning Dallas, Rockwall and Collin county homeowner and the perceptive deck builder, ipe decking is the best choice. Why? As a finished product, it is rich, resilient, and beautiful. As a material, ipe is naturally resistant to rot, abrasion, insects, molds and extreme weather. It is also flame-resistant, and it does not float. This beautiful exotic lumber is up to 5 times harder and 2 times denser than other hardwoods, and yes, it is harder than nails.

It is a primary choice for builders and interior designers and you will find this tropical hardwood in first-class commercial projects and upscale homes all over the world. In fact, that’s ipe hardwood you see outside the Treasure Island Hotel in Las Vegas, the famous Atlantic City Boardwalk and also the boardwalks of Disney World and Coney Island.

Ipe: A Closer Look

Ipe (pronounced as ee-pay) is commonly found in South and Central America, specifically in the Brazilian rainforests. These trees can grow up to 150 feet tall with a diameter of 6 inches. It is also called as Brazilian walnut and ironwood (in reference to its toughness).

Ipe wood has the same A-1 fire rating as steel and concrete, which means that it is highly flame-resistant compared to other woods. It has also been awarded the highest decay resistance rating of High 50+ Years, although the material can actually last longer. It is ideal for outdoor decking especially in areas with extreme weather conditions such as Dallas, Texas.

Benefits of Using Ipe Decking

Aside from the facts stated above, here are some more reasons why deck construction professionals choose ipe wood for outdoor decking.

  • Resistant to sliver, splinters and scratches
  • Resistant to termites, fungi, and decay
  • Slip-resistant
  • Very low maintenance
  • Fire-resistant
  • Can withstand extreme weather conditions such as those seen in Dallas, Texas
  • Highly resilient (can last more than half a century)
  • Ipe materials have a distinctly beautiful coloration and graining that ranges from light olive brown to dark chocolate brown

Building with Ipe

Aside from decking, there are close to limitless possibilities for which ipe can be used. Some of these are:

  • Boardwalks
  • Porches
  • Furniture
  • Flooring
  • Gazebos
  • Fences
  • Cabinetry
  • Siding

How to Work with Ipe

While ipe presents so many benefits when used for decking, many builders find it quite challenging to work with. With the right tools, however, ipe decking wood is a great material to use.

Ipe is like redwood, it has natural oils that keep insects out and it is ideal because it is highly resistant to molds, mildew and decay. However, ipe also has a high tannin content that makes it difficult to paint or finish. It is not as malleable as other woods, either, so it is not suitable for intricate woodworking.

Here are some tips to help a deck builder get the most out of ipe.

Application—air dried ipe wood is best for outdoor use. For indoor projects, kiln-dried ipe is better to avoid cracking or warping.

Drilling—it is highly recommended that you use high-quality drill bits to drill into the wood. Ipe is very hard, so you would need to pre-drill before attaching pieces together.

Cutting—to prevent splinters when cutting, it is best to use carbide saw blades.

Installation—use stainless steel screws or hidden fasteners when attaching pieces together. Installation is a vital part in making sure that decking problems are avoided. Ensure that the deck boards are properly straightened and the right fastening systems are used. And don’t rush the process!

Finishing—because this kind of wood has an abundance of natural oils, water and oil based finishing won’t produce the best results. It is therefore recommended that you test apply different products on some sample boards to achieve the desired results.

Whether you are a deck builder or a homeowner, you will surely appreciate the many benefits of using ipe decking wood. It is durable, resilient, beautiful, and meant to last for generations.