Ipe wood is fast becoming the preferred choice of homeowners and contractors when it comes to outdoor deck construction. Found throughout South America, ipe (pronounced EE-pay) is also known as Brazilian Walnut, Cortez, and Amapa. Regardless of the name, this exotic hardwood is world renowned for its strength and endurance. Another reason why many contractors and builders recommend ipe wood for decking is due to its ability to resist decay and insect infestation. Ipe also has up to a Class A fire rating when it comes to flame spread. Surprisingly, that is the same rating as concrete. With all of these features, you would think that the cost of ipe would be available only to multi-millionaires looking to add onto their mansions. However, compared to the cost of Teak, ipe wood is reasonably priced if you work with the right direct importer.
Ipe lumber is not just for decks. Commercially, ipe has been used in Atlantic City’s famous boardwalk as well as the Treasure Island Resort located in Las Vegas. Ipe has even been rigorously tested by the United States Naval Research Laboratory and the U.S. Forest Products Laboratory. These tests concluded that a single plank of ipe could be left exposed to the elements and even buried in the ground for 15 years without being infested by termites. The tests also revealed that ipe lumber was extremely resistant to mold and fungi. These tests clearly demonstrate that this exotic hardwood lives up to its reputation as one of the most durable woods in the market.
With these facts in mind, it is easy to see how ipe wood can’t be compared to more commonly used woods. This hardwood can be left untreated for over 40 years. Moreover, with deck oil treatments an ipe deck can last well over 100 years. Additionally, when you compare ipe to both cedar and redwood, those traditionally popular woods are not as durable and resilient. For example, recent studies have shown that redwood is not as reliable as it used to be. The reason for this disparity is due to the fact that those centuries old redwood trees are not around anymore due to reckless and persistent logging practices. Currently, the only redwood trees that can be used are too immature and are therefore not as durable.
Ipe hardwood is also eco-friendly. Direct importers of ipe wood tend to purchase wood that has been cultivated in managed forests and are recognized by the Forest Stewardship Council. Utilizing managed forests to harvest exotic hardwoods means that forests can be sustained without completely decimating thousands of acres. Ultimately, when you choose ipe hardwood for your deck, you are promoting responsible and eco-friendly forestry practices.
Recent technological advances have made it easier for ipe to be processed. New cutting blades that can easily handle cutting ipe have led to an overall decrease in its price. In addition, because you can’t use a hammer and some nails to install ipe, the use of drills, fasteners, and other attachments are necessary. The use of these tools and materials means that installing an ipe deck is not as labor intensive as it used to be. Ultimately, because this exotic hardwood is now less costly to process, the savings can be passed onto consumers.
If you are serious about having a deck that is built to last and won’t have to be replaced or repaired every couple of years, then building an ipe deck is a sound and worthwhile investment. It’s rare to find a hardwood that is beautiful and functional. Despite the fact that ipe is denser than most other woods and therefore requires a bit more manual labor, a fully constructed deck can be enjoyed with very little maintenance and can last well over a lifetime. Ultimately, pressure treated and composite wood decks simply do not have the longevity and durability of an ipe wood deck.