One feature of ipe decking that I most often forget to mention is how ipe handles fire. This kind of information is important to know because many deck owners use tiki torches, grills, and firepits on their deck. While we all try to be careful, there is always the chance, however remote, that one of those things could tip over and spark a fire.
There have been many instances where a dog bumped into a charcoal grill and spilled over some briquettes, or a guest tips over a seemingly put out tiki torch and a fire gets started. In those situations, you must react quickly to properly put out the fire before it spreads to the rest of your deck.
If you have a deck made of ipe, or are considering building an ipe deck, you need to know that ipe has a fire spread rating that is the same as concrete! What does this mean? Unlike other hardwoods that spread fire rapidly, fire tends to remain isolated around its point of origin. In this way, the damage that the fire has made is contained in a much smaller region on your deck. Of course, calling the proper authorities and attempting to put out the fire right away is absolutely critical and recommended.
Interestingly enough, ipe wood has up to a Class A fire rating for flame spread. Here is a table that shows the ratings given to ipe decking from the National Fire Protection Agency (Note, there are other third party certification companies that show similar results. Results will vary based on the moisture content, origin, and species).
|Ipe Decking Flame Spread (10) Minutes||0|
|Ipe Decking Flame Spread (30) Minutes||5|
|Ipe Decking Smoke Developed Values (10) minutes||3|
|Ipe Decking Fuel Contribution (10) Minutes||0|
|* NFPA is the National Fire Protection, NFPA no. 1 Fire Safety Code|
|** UBC is the Uniform Building Code, 1979 Edition, Part VIII, Fire Resistive Standard for Fire Protection.|