Ipe decking can last up to 75 years with hardly any maintenance. That’s great! But customers often wonder: what about the framing?
Deck framing is usually made of pressure treated pine. It’s cheap, easy to install, and readily available. But pressure treated pine is only rated to last about 15 years. So why would you spend all that money on 75-year ipe if you’re going to have to replace the deck in just 15 years anyway due to rotten framing?
It’s a great question! Here are a few way to make your framing last as long as your ipe decking:
Build the Frame with Ipe
The most obvious fix is to build your frame from the same material as your decking. This will certainly work, but it will be very expensive. And because ipe is so tough, it will be a lot harder to build the frame and secure the deck boards to it. For these reasons, we don’t typically recommend going this route.
Build the Frame with Metal
Metal deck framing comes with many of the same advantages and drawback as ipe framing: it’s expensive and difficult to work with. Additionally, metal products tend to react with ipe and stain the decking. Because of this, you’ll have to use joist and ledger tape as a protective barrier between the framing and the deck boards.
Metal framing can be a great solution if you don’t mind the extra cost and effort, but we don’t usually recommend it. However, now that we’ve brought up joist and ledger tape…
Build the Frame with Pressure Treated Lumber and Protect It with Joist and Ledger Tape
The third option—and the one we recommend—is to use pressure treated pine, then cover your joists, posts, and ledgers with a protective, waterproof tape.
Most wood deterioration is caused by exposure to the elements, especially moisture. The areas of your frame that are most susceptible to rot are places where the wood touches up against something else, creating tight spaces that trap water. Common culprits are the bases of posts in contact with the ground and the tops of joists in contact with the decking.
Joist tape creates a protective barrier between the decking and the joists and keeps the wood dry. Ledger tape does the same thing, but it’s wider so it can cover a broader area. Ledger tape is good for protecting ledgers, beams, and posts.
You should apply joist and ledger tape to all your horizontal framing surfaces. The tape should be wide enough to fold over the sides for maximum protection. You may have to cut the tape in order to wrap corners without creating wrinkles, which can allow water to seep in.
Using joist and ledger tape on your deck framing will drastically improve the lifespan of your deck without costing you tons of money or effort.
Can you paint ipe wood? It’s a common question, and the experts will always tell you the same two things:
Why would you want to?
Those can be frustrating answers. Maybe you want to use ipe for its strength, but you aren’t fond of its color. Or maybe you inherited a finished project from a previous homeowner whose tastes didn’t match yours. So what can you do?
Why Ipe Is Not Paintable
First, let’s look at the source of the problem. We paint wood all the time; why is ipe different?
Exotic hardwoods (including ipe and its friends: cumaru, tigerwood, etc.) are not like most woods. Paint won’t stick to them! For one, they’re just too dense. The tight grain squeezes other substances out, and creates a relatively non-porous surface (compared to softer woods) that leaves the paint with nothing to cling to.
Another reason paint won’t stick to ipe and its ilk is that these woods are saturated with natural oils. These oils repel the paint, much like how the oil on a duck’s feathers repels water.
It just so happens that these two characteristics, density and oils, are what make ipe such a good choice for exterior projects in the first place. The dense grain gives it an impervious structure, and the oils fight off mold and decay. It’s too bad that they also have the unfortunate side effect of making the wood difficult to paint.
And it’s not just paint. Most wood stains and film-forming top coats will struggle to maintain any lasting hold on ipe. That’s why companies developed specialized products like Ipe Oil® and Messmers for dealing with exotic hardwoods. These oil-based finishes were specifically formulated to penetrate deeply into ipe’s dense grain structure and enrich the wood’s natural characteristics.
Can Anything Be Done?
Some woodworkers have claimed mild success in painting ipe by taking a few preliminary steps. First, sand the ipe with coarse-grit sandpaper to rough up the surface a bit. This will give the paint something to cling to. Then, apply several layers of oil-based primer. Finally, you can paint the ipe, but use an oil-based paint instead of the usual latex stuff.
Having said that, these steps will not guarantee a perfect, long-lasting finish; and as a rule, AdvantageLumber.com does not recommend painting ipe.
Alternatives to Painting Ipe
Painting ipe may not be a good idea, but you do have some other options.
Use a Different Wood
If you’re starting a brand-new project, this is the best way to go. A wood like cedar may not have the strength and longevity of ipe, but you can paint it to your heart’s content. The paint will also help protect the wood, giving back some of the durability you sacrificed by using a softer wood specie.
Cover the Ipe in a Paintable Material
Sometimes you just don’t have a choice. Either ipe is required for its structural properties, or someone else installed the wood without asking you first!
In cases like this, when you absolutely must use ipe, you should first consider if you really want to cover up that beautiful, natural hardwood. If your answer is still “yes”, then your best option is to clad the ipe in a paintable material. Build a sheath or covering out of another wood, such as cedar or even pressure treated pine, and paint that instead. You’ll get the strong foundation provided by ipe as well as full control over the final appearance.
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.
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.
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.
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
Are you looking for the best wood for a new horizontal fence?
Certain woods will require more maintenance than others and can be susceptible to rot, decay and insect attack. The woods that are commonly prone to those issues are softwoods such as pressure treated pine, cedar and even redwood. There are certain hardwood species however that are more durable than teak and cheaper. The top species of wood that we recommend for a horizontal fence are:
These woods excel in harsh climates such as the hot Florida sun, the dry Arizona desert as well as cold and snowy Buffalo, NY. Woods such as Ipe have been proven to last 75+ years on commercial applications such as the Coney Island boardwalk. These woods are also naturally resistant to rot, decay, fungi and wood boring insects can not chew through them. In addition they are low maintenance and incredibly beautiful. Building a horizontal fence from one of these beautiful species of wood will have your friends and neighbors admiring your new fence for years. Take a look at many of these beautiful horizontal fences our customers have built with some of our wood:
One of our great customers Pro Quality Carpentry completed this job and had to share how beautiful it turned out.
The previous ceiling of this screened in lanai was old stucco that was looking dingy and had cracks. The home owner hired Pro Quality Carpentry to renovate their outdoor space and make it look more appealing.
Pro Quality recommended our Tigerwood in a nickel gap tongue and groove profile that we custom milled for them. Tigerwood is an exotic hardwood that’s incredibly durable as well as exceptionally beautiful.
Tigerwood is naturally resistant to rot and decay and offers a 30+ year lifespan without chemical treatment.
The Install Process Was Simple
First Pro Quality Carpentry started by installing wood furring strips to the existing stucco ceiling and made sure to attach the furring strips to the wood support trusses underneath the stucco.
Next they installed our Tigerwood nickel gap tongue and groove and fastened to the furring strips with stainless steel screws through the tongue to leave the ceiling free of faster holes.
You’ve probably searched endlessly online for exterior barn door advise and are probably tired of reading about people building interior sliding barn doors out of pallets or grandmas old bookshelf.
I’ve got good news for you…
Believe it or not some people actually build barn doors and put them outside on a barn. In this post we’ll discuss the most durable wood that will last outdoors without rotting and lots of maintenance and show you some exterior barn doors our customers have built.
The most durable woods you can build an exterior barn door out of are Ipe, Cumaru, Tigerwood, Massaranduba, Garapa, Angelim Pedra and Itauba. These are all South American hardwoods that are proven to be more durable than teak and at a much cheaper price than teak.
Some of these woods such as Ipe wood are known to last outdoors in the harshest climates for 70+ years with very little maintenance in fact Ipe lasted on the Coney Island boardwalk for 70 years before it was ripped up an reclaimed to build new furniture which you can see here:
The 70 year old reclaimed Ipe wood on the Cyclone Lounger looks just as good as the new material we sell and that Ipe wood will probably last another 50 years.
Now imagine if you built your exterior barn doors out of the same wood one of our customer did just that so we interviewed him and made a video you must watch below. He loves how durable the Ipe is on his barn and he has one barn door left that is still pine that he needs to replace yet so you can see the comparison.
Here is another project one of our customers built these custom barn doors out of Ipe wood and a painted steel frame. He used short length boards which we sell significantly cheaper so he was able to save him self a lot of money and his barns doors will last many years.
Below is a man door and a matching hayloft door that were built for a barn out of our Tigerwood lumber. The pictures were taken without any oil applied to the wood, once oiled the grain will be enhanced and the Tigerwood will really look beautiful and will last for many years without rotting.