Category Archives: Deck Design

4 Inch Ipe Decking

Best Decking for Extreme Climates and Projects

Building a deck in a climate that sees extreme weather such as extreme heat, extreme cold, hurricanes, lots of rain, ice and snow requires some extra planning to ensure your deck will last and resist unwanted movement such as warping, cupping, bowing and twisting.

Dry Climates

In dry climates like Arizona, wood decking materials will shrink due to the lack of moisture. All building materials will expand and contract with temperature and humidity changes. Composite decking materials generally expand in the warm temperatures and shrink in the cooler temperatures.

Wet and Humid Climates

Climates like Florida that see extreme heat, rain, humidity and hurricanes are some of the harshest environments on homes and the materials they are built with. Constant rain and humidity will cause wood decking to expand, composite materials will also tend to swell in these climates.

These climates also tend to promote the growth of mold and fungi, especially in the areas that do not see full sun all day. This can also lead to faster degrading, rot and decay of building materials.

Extreme Sun and UV Rays

Many areas such as Florida, Arizona, California and more see extreme sun and UV rays. The UV rays from the sun are one of the harshest elements that attack many materials and building materials like decking are no exception.

The UV rays will fade most materials including wood which will eventually turn gray and composites can significantly fade from their existing color that you loved originally.

Extreme Cold, Ice and Snow

If your area gets very cold and see lots of ice and snow in the winter and then hot and humid temperatures in the summer.  Your deck is going to see the widest ranges of extreme conditions which means the most expansion and contraction.

Material Selection

All of these different climates can be harsh on building materials especially horizontal surfaces like decking. There are materials that have proven to stand up to these harsh climates better than others.

South American hardwood decking such as Ipe, Cumaru, Tigerwood, Garapa and Massaranduba have proven to last up to 75 years in some applications.

These hardwood decking species have shown to work in every climate from the dry dessert to hot and humid Florida all the way to cold and snow covered Buffalo, NY.

Sizes

The most common decking size is 5/4 x 6” which will have a finished dimension of 1 inch thick and 5.5 inches wide.However just like hardwood flooring the wider your deck boards are the more likely they will be to cup.

Use Narrower and Thicker Boards

The narrower a board is the less likely it is to cup so using narrow boards such as 1×4 (finished at 3 1/2″ wide), is not only more stable but it can save you money and give a more interesting look.

Thicker boards such as 5/4 x 4 (finishes at 1” thick and 3 1/2″ wide) are also more stable then 1 x 4 (finishes at 3/4” thick and 3 1/2″ wide) it’s a quarter inch thicker and gives you more stability.

Sawn Lumber Differences

Quarter Sawn Decking:

Quarter sawn decking comes at a premium due to the labor it takes to mill each plank. To mill quarter sawn wood, each log is sawed at a radial angle into four quarters. Then each quarter is plain sawn. This method of quarter sawing does leave some waste, but much less than rift sawn lumber.

This method of sawing produces a plank where the tree’s growth rings are near, or totally perpendicular to the plank’s surface. Quarter sawn decking offers even more stability and the following benefits:

  • Decreased expansion and contraction on the plank’s width
  • Twisting, cupping, and warping resistance
  • Ages evenly over time
  • Chances of surface checking are significantly reduced
  • More resistant to moisture penetration
  • More character beauty with ray flecks

Are Your Project Conditions Less Than Ideal?

We recommend a minimum of 18 inches of unrestricted air flow underneath your deck. Unrestricted means plenty of air can flow underneath your deck so it’s not completely sealed off with skirting.

Closing off the underside of your deck or not allowing enough air flow will change the moisture level on the underside of your deck boards while the top surface gets air flow and heated by the sun.

This creates two different climates for your deck boards and will cause the top of the deck surface to expand and contract at a different rate then the bottom and this will lead to cupping.

That being said some homeowners have projects like boat docks and ground level decks that can not meet the ideal conditions but still want a beautiful hardwood deck.

In these cases, even though we don’t recommend it unless you can create the ideal conditions we suggest using 5/4 x 4 decking or 5/4 x 4 quarter sawn decking. You should also take as many precautions as you can to mitigate any moisture issues or differences underneath your decking.

Oiling the underside of your deck boards before installing them can also help reduce moisture absorbing into your deck boards.

Projects that used our 4 inch wide decking for their projects

4 Inch Ipe Wood Decking
5/4 x 4 Ipe Decking was used because the deck is low to the ground, skirted off and sits directly on top of a blue stone paver patio.
4 Inch Ipe decking
Ipe Decking and Blue Stone Patio
4 Inch Ipe Decking
4 Inch Ipe Decking and Blue Stone paver patio
4 Inch Tigerwood Decking was used because the deck was skirted off and sitting on top of concrete.
4 Inch Tigerwood Decking
Ipe Decking Steps built using 4 Inch Decking because the deck sits directly on top of a concrete slab and has limited air flow underneath.
Ipe Wood Planter Bench
Ipe Wood Planter Bench
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Swim Spa Deck Built With Ipe Wood

swim spa deck

A swim spa can be a great addition to your home. However before you purchase a swim spa you need to consider a deck built around it.

A custom deck built for your swim spa will make accessing and using your new swim spa easy and enjoyable it can also reduce the risk of a slip and fall injury.

This is a Master Spa 15 Deep Swim Spa that a California homeowner purchased. They were looking for the best decking material to build a deck for their new spa.

Whats the Best Deck for a Swim Spa?

We strongly suggested Ipe wood for the deck surrounding their new spa. Here’s a few reasons why Ipe wood works so well for swim spas:

  • Our Ipe wood has natural slip resistance and has been ASTM-C1028-89 tested so our Ipe Decking exceeds the Americans with Disabilities Act requirements for Static Coefficient of friction in a wet environment
  • Ipe is naturally resistant to mold, mildew and wood boring insects
  • Approximately seven times harder than Cedar, ASTM-D143-94 tested; our Ipe decking stands up to the harshest conditions imaginable.
  • Barefoot friendly compared to softwoods that deteriorate fast

These are a few reasons why our customer chose Ipe for their new swim spa deck and railings.

Swim Spa Deck Ideas You Might Like:

The homeowner designed the swim spa deck to allow simplified unrolling of the spa cover. This is achieved while standing on the 3-step side. You can easily fold and unfold the cover on the spa while walking the entire length of the spa.

ipe swim spa deck

Take note of how wide the top platform is, this is an important detail. When you are taking your cover on and off you are usually focused on the cover so a narrow step would leave you more likely to trip.

The wide platform reduces the risk of tripping over a narrow step while taking your cover on and off. One other detail you’ll notice is the height of the top platform.

Your walking platform should allow you to fold up your cover without being hunched over and this deck was designed with that in mind as well.

The upper deck allows for easy spa access and features a wide bench for removing your sandals as well as a nice place to set your towel and smart phone.

The railing is stainless steel cable to maximize the views of the garden. The posts are powder coated which will offer years of maintenance free railing. The top handrail is Ipe wood to match the decking and provide a nice slip resistant grip.

LED lights were built into the steps to illuminate the steps as well as add some elegance. The deck substructure is constructed of clear redwood and was designed to allow removal of the spa side panels for future maintenance of the spa if needed.

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Deck Designs That Save You Money

Many homeowners are unaware that some simple changes to your deck design can save you upwards of 30 to 40 percent on your decking materials cost. When building a hardwood deck with Ipe wood or other exotic hardwoods many homeowners want to specify long length decking that will run the full length of their deck. We offer decking in lengths up to 22 feet long and those cost a premium mainly due to supply and demand.

As a sustainable lumber company we utilize every piece of a tree that we can and we can only get so many 22 foot boards out of a tree that are free from defect so when cutting slight defects out of these boards we are often left with shorter length boards that we sell for a discount.

Here is an Ipe wood deck that utilizes a design with shorter deck boards that will save you money. Using shorter length boards will also generally be easier to install since many long length boards have a tendency to bow leaving you or your contractor to try and force them into place using special tools like the Hardwood Wrench which is specifically designed to help straighten long hardwood deck boards that are bowed. Shorter length boards are more stable and less likely to contain any bow to them.

Ipe Wood

Another deck design that can save you money is using narrower deck boards opposed to the most sought after 6 inch wide deck boards. Using 4 inch wide deck boards are generally sold cheaper again mainly due to supply and demand and also yield from milling logs. You can obviously only get so many 6 inch wide deck boards out of a log and since we utilize every part of a log we often have a great amount of 4 inch decking that we sell at a discount. Of course you will need more fasteners with narrower decking however our discounts on narrow deck boards will make up for that added cost.

The other major benefit to using 4 inch deck boards is that narrower boards are more stable and less likely to cup or see movement. We recommend the use of 4 inch deck boards for applications that will see a lot of moisture, decreased air flow underneath the deck and harsh environments. In the project below our customer used our 4 inch Ipe wood decking and we pre-grooved it for them so they could fasten the decking with hidden deck fasteners. If you look closely this deck is close to the ground and does not allow for our minimum air flow recommendation so we advised them they would be better off using the 4 inch decking and their deck has had no movement,

4 inch ipe wood decking

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winter deck maintenance

Plan During Winter, Build During Spring

Winter can be the best time to plan out that gorgeous decks you’ve been envisioning. There are quite a few factors to consider when planning the perfect deck, like material, size, style, and add-ons. Planning during winter is a great way to save money as you can begin to quote out all the labor and items needed.
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Make Your Deck Unique With Design

Since it’s fall and we’re positive you headed our advice and decided to build a deck now, let’s take a look at how deck design can be the number one way to personalize your deck.

Deck design is probably the last thing people think about when it comes to uniqueness. Most people just replace their current deck, or want all 15’ boards because their deck will be 15’ wide. The traditional design could be a result of a need to install a deck quickly and easily, or just because it’s what everyone else has.
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What’s the Correct Gap Space Between Boards?!

You’re planning to build your deck, you ask your buddies and read the thousands of deck blogs and everyone seems to give you VERY different answers about what is the proper gap spacing you should be using for all your boards. The reason there’s so many answers is because there are many variables that dictate what gap spacing to use. In short, there’s no one answer that fits all but here are a few things to take into consideration.

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Night Lights for Your Deck!

We’ve already discussed fire pits and how they can make a great addition to your deck and outdoor living space, but the fire pit alone may not be enough to create the idyllic environment you’re aiming to create. In order to maximize the evening hours and to make your deck even more inviting, the addition of lighting is very important and will prolong the evening ambiance while keeping everyone safe.