Ipe Wood: Answering the 12 Most Frequently Asked Questions

1. Where does Ipe wood come from?

Ipe wood, also known as Brazilian Walnut, comes from the tropical regions of Central and South America, particularly Brazil. It is harvested from large, tall trees of the Tabebuia genus, renowned for their incredibly dense and durable wood.

2. How to clean Ipe wood?

To clean Ipe wood, follow these steps:

  1. Sweep the surface to remove debris.
  2. Mix warm water with a mild detergent or DeckWise deck cleaner.
  3. Use a soft-bristle brush to scrub the wood along the grain.
  4. Rinse thoroughly with a garden hose or pressure washer on a low setting.
  5. Allow the wood to dry completely.

Pro Tip: Use DeckWise deck cleaner and a power washer with an orbital surface cleaning attachment that is 15″ – 20″ wide. This makes cleaning your Ipe wood deck extremely easy and fast as shown in the photo below.

3. How much does Ipe wood cost?

The cost of Ipe wood varies based on quality, availability, and location. On average, Ipe decking boards range from $4 to $6 per linear foot. This price can fluctuate with market conditions and the specific dimensions or profiles of the boards.

4. How to cut Ipe wood?

Cutting Ipe wood requires the following tools and steps:

  1. Use carbide-tipped saw blades designed for hardwood to reduce wear. A standard 80 tooth carbide tip blade found in hardware stores will work fine.
  2. Ensure all cutting tools are sharp.
  3. Wear protective gear, including a mask and goggles, as Ipe dust can be irritating to some individuals.
  4. Cut slowly and steadily to avoid overheating the blade and creating rough edges.
  5. Apply Ipe end seal to the end grain of all fresh cuts to prevent your boards from end checking.

5. How to treat Ipe wood?

Ipe wood naturally resists wood boring insects, rot, and decay, so treatment is not necessary to preserve the wood. However, to maintain its rich color and prevent graying, apply a UV-inhibiting hardwood oil such as Ipe Oil will help maintain the beautiful color.

Clean the surface thoroughly before application and use a brush or cloth to apply the oil evenly. Wipe up any excess that hasn’t fully absorbed. Ipe is so dense that it will only absorb so much oil. Don’t try to put on too much or your deck will become tacky.

Make sure to dispose of all oily rags properly as they can easily spontaneously combust!

6. How to pronounce Ipe wood?

Ipe is pronounced as “ee-pay.” This is something many people get wrong so don’t feel bad. If you still struggle with this you can always call Ipe by its other common name which is Brazilian Walnut. Ipe is more commonly called Brazilian Walnut for interior hardwood flooring.

7. What is Ipe wood made of?

Ipe wood is a dense all natural hardwood made up of tightly packed fibers, giving it exceptional strength and durability. Its high density makes it resistant to water absorption, wood boring insects, and rot, making it ideal for outdoor use.

8. Where can you buy Ipe wood?

Ipe wood can be purchased from a few sources:

Some local lumberyards might stock a bundle of Ipe wood boards but you’ll often pay significantly more money since they are buying from a direct importer and marking the material up so they can make a profit.

In addition these local lumber yards don’t buy large quantities of Ipe so they often don’t get the best quality and have all the additional dimensional materials such as 2×4, 4×4 or offer custom milling.

Home improvement stores don’t typically carry Ipe wood and if they do offer to source it for you then they will order from a large direct importer like AdvantageLumber.com and markup the materials 30 – 40%.

AdvantageLumber.com is the largest direct importer of Ipe wood in the United States. We have 4 factories strategically located throughout the United States stocked with a huge selection of Ipe wood in all sizes as well as other hardwood decking species.

Our state of the art factories custom mill Ipe wood decking board pre-grooved for easy installation with hidden deck fasteners. We stock a huge selection of Ipe decking accessories such as the Ipe Clip hidden deck fasteners and everything you need to finish your Ipe wood deck.

Being the largest importer of Ipe wood allows us to sort through all of our inventory and select boards that don’t meet our premium quality grading standards. We take boards that don’t pass our grading standards and mark them as B-grade or SMR® and sell them at a discount.

SMR® Select Mill Run Grade: Our SMR Grade is proprietary Advantage grading. It is not always available in all items, but when it is grab it up because its always a deal. If it doesn’t quite make our first grade but is better than the B grade it often ends up in these bundles. It even beats many competitors premium grade.

9. How long does Ipe wood last?

Ipe wood is renowned for its longevity. When properly maintained, it can last up to 75 years or more in outdoor applications. Its natural resistance to decay and insects contributes significantly to its extended lifespan.

10. How to stain Ipe wood?

When someone asks us about staining Ipe wood we inform them that Ipe wood does not need to be stained like a softwood such as pressure treated pine. When people think about staining a wood deck it’s often a pressure treated deck where they want to get rid of the yellowish green look and also add some waterproofing protection.

Ipe wood does not need to be stained since it’s already a beautiful rich brown color. Instead it needs a coat of Ipe Oil which simply keeps the sun from turning the wood grey.

11. How to seal Ipe wood?

When most people think of sealing a wood deck it’s common that a softwood deck such as pressure treated pine needs to be sealed with a water sealer to help prolong the life of the wood.

Pressure treated pine has a tendency to absorb water and stay wet for prolonged periods of time. This can lead to faster rot and decay so applying an annual water sealer is known to help pressure treated pine repel water and prolong the life of the wood.

Ipe wood does not need to be sealed to prolong the life of the wood. In fact most commercial applications don’t every apply any sealer or oil to Ipe wood and it’s proven to last upwards of 75 years on commercial applications such as the Coney Island boardwalk and the Brooklyn bridge walkway.

Instead of sealing Ipe wood just needs an application of Ipe Oil if you want to maintain the rich brown color. The Ipe oil simply acts as a sunscreen for the wood since the UV rays will turn all wood grey.

To oil Ipe wood:

  1. Clean the wood surface thoroughly.
  2. Apply a high-quality, UV-resistant oil such as Ipe Oil.
  3. Use a brush, paint roller or sprayer to apply the sealant evenly.
  4. Wipe off any excess to prevent a sticky residue.
  5. Reapply the oil annually or as needed to maintain the wood’s appearance and protection.

12. What is Ipe wood used for?

Ipe wood is used for a variety of applications, including:

  1. Decking: Its durability and resistance to weather make it a popular choice for decks.
  2. Outdoor furniture: Ipe’s strength and beauty are ideal for benches, chairs, and tables.
  3. Siding and cladding: Its aesthetic appeal and longevity make it suitable for exterior walls.
  4. Flooring: Ipe’s hardness and rich color are favored for both indoor and outdoor flooring.
  5. Marine construction: Its resistance to water and decay makes it excellent for docks and boardwalks.

Ipe wood’s versatility, durability, and aesthetic appeal make it a top choice for numerous building and design projects. By understanding its origins, maintenance, and uses, you can make informed decisions about incorporating this exceptional wood into your next project.

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