Ipe (e-pay) is often referred to as one of the hardest woods available. Ipe will outlast most all other decking products on the market. It has a very rich and warm appearance that is arguably the one of the most attractive natural decking products that exists.
What is Ipe?
Ipe is a beautiful exotic walnut hardwood from South America. Ipe wood is hard, strong, naturally resists rot, and has excellent abrasion and dent resistance. Ipe is generally about twice as dense as typical wood decks and 4 to 5 times stronger. Ipe has a very smooth feel and a dark brown colour with hints of purple, yellow, red and orange. It is an extremely long lasting natural wood with a furniture grade finish. Ipe is also generally free of any knots.
Why Choose Ipe?
Ipe provides many of the benefits of a composite deck material in a natural wood product. It is a very versatile material that has unlimited uses. We are able to install Ipe for the decking, rail, trim, skirting, stairs, privacy screens and pergolas on your deck. It is also available in long lengths up to 20 ft and can be custom ordered in lengths that are even longer. (However the wait may be prohibitive) It has little or no knots in the finish of the material. It is very resistant to shrinking, twisting, cupping and checking. It will weather to a silver grey patina over time. Due to its density Ipe will not generally accept a finish very well. Therefore a finish will need to be applied fairly frequently to keep the fresh appearance of the material.
The Ipe Challenge
Your Deck Company has installed thousands of square ft of Ipe decking and railing. As a result we are very knowledgeable on the best practices of working with Ipe.
Ipe is a challenging and difficult material to work with that requires experience and patience. Its extreme density requires the use of special drill bits for pre-drilling and a variety of specialized saw blades and router bits. It can easily take 2 to 3 times longer to install a complete Ipe deck compared to a typical cedar deck.
Hand nailing into Ipe is almost impossible and using pneumatic nail guns is not a good idea either. Stainless Steel fasteners are necessary when fastening Ipe. Ipe has a high level of Tannic Acid that will otherwise cause a dark stain around fasteners. As a general rule, Ipe will outlast most decking products currently on the market. So you need your fastener to last just as long.
Hidden clips used for installing the decking can be very effective if the correct type is used. I do not recommend the use of under-mount bracket systems. Any shrinkage of the Pressure Treated framing will generally cause the small screws to snap.
Ipe looks great when fasteners are also plugged. Plugging is a method of hiding visible fasteners. It is when a fastener is deeply countersunk from the surface of the wood. A specific size of plug of the same wood is then glued and tapped into the hole to conceal the fastener. Once the glue has dried the plug is trimmed with a chisel and sanded smooth. This is a very time consuming option that provides an excellent finish however it will also add to the final labour bill.
Your Deck Company is equipped with an extensive and complete woodworking shop that is a definite plus when working with materials such as Ipe.
If you require further information regarding any of our products feel free to contact us directly.