Ipe is not an abbreviation. Rather, it’s the common name of Tabebuia serratifolia, a tropical hardwood lumber specie. The correct pronunciation is “EE-pay”. Other common names for ipe include Brazilian walnut and ironwood.
The ipe tree is native to South America. However, it also grows throughout Mexico, the Caribbean, southern Florida, and other tropical regions.
Ipe wood is extremely dense, making it one of the most durable woods in the world. It’s also a beautiful wood, boasting a rich, dark brown color. As a result, ipe is highly sought after for high-end exterior woodworking projects. It’s a popular material for decks, siding, fences, and outdoor furniture.
AdvantageLumber.com carries the largest inventory of ipe lumber in North America. We mill ipe into decking, siding, interior flooring, live-edge slabs, and cabinet-grade lumber.
Most people are familiar with Teak wood, it’s been well known to last outdoors without many of the common issues of softwoods.
Teak has exceptional resistance to rot and termites but it only offers moderate resistance to marine borers and the powder post beetle.
Since Teak is so well known for it’s exterior durability it has been widely used for outdoor furniture and boat building.
This has driven up the demand for Teak which then increases the price as well. Genuine Teak (Burmese Teak) is very expensive. Plantation Teak that is fast grown is significantly cheaper.
The high price point of Teak makes it out of the price range for many people especially for larger projects.
Teak Wood Lifespan
The lifespan of teak is known to be up to 50 years if properly maintained. If teak is left to turn a natural grey and not oiled each year you can expect teak in this condition to last 30 years or more depending on how harsh the climate is.
Teak Price Vs. Ipe Price
Due to the popular demand of teak over many years the price has increased substantially to the point that most people would find it not cost effective. Our teak price is around $40 per board foot.
Due to the high price of teak many people have used Ipe wood as a cost effective alternative to teak. Ipe is our top recommended alternative to teak it can outlast teak and Ipe is significantly cheaper.
Ipe is primarily sold for exterior decking, fencing, siding and many other exterior projects. It is priced and sold by the lineal foot. As of 2020 our starting price for 1×4 Ipe Wood is $2.13 per lineal foot.
A 1x4x8 Ipe Wood board would cost $17.04 that same board in teak would cost $110.00
Is Ipe Better Than Teak?
Ipe wood is a South American hardwood that is over three times harder on the Janka scale compared to genuine teak.
The Janka test is a measure of the hardness of wood. The Janka test was developed as a variation of the Brinell hardness test. The test measures the force required to push a steel ball with a diameter of 11.28 millimeters (0.444 inches) into the wood to a depth of half the ball’s diameter. The diameter was chosen to produce a circle with an area of 100 square millimeters.
The Janka hardness of Teak is: 1,050
The Janka hardness of Ipe is: 3,680
Other than Ipe wood being over three times harder, Ipe also has some other exceptional properties that make it one of the best exterior hardwoods available.
One of the strongest woods in the world
Up to a Class A fire rating for flame spread
Termite, Mold & Fungi resistant
High scratch & slip resistance
Can outlast composite material
Over three times harder than teak
Proven to last 75+ years on commercial applications such as the Coney Island boardwalk
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 an outdoor kitchen is a major investment. You want to make sure you are using materials that are going to hold up to the outdoor environment as well as the abuse of kitchen wear and tear.
You are probably looking at spending thousands of dollars on top of the line stainless steel appliances for your outdoor kitchen.
The last thing you would want is to spend a lot of time and money on an outdoor kitchen and have your grill in your outdoor kitchen rust out after 5 years and force you to redo your outdoor kitchen.
Many homeowners want their appliances to sit in cabinets or an outdoor bar built out of a beautiful long lasting wood.
Woods You Should Not Use for an Outdoor Kitchen
We suggest staying away from softwoods such as pressure treated pine, cedar and redwood.
These softwoods are all susceptible to rot, wood boring insects and are can catch fire quickly. In addition they require yearly maintenance with waterproofing sealers that will peel off.
This will leave you scraping and sanding all the wood and then reapplying the sealer each year. Waterproofing sealers help keep water from penetrating the grain of softwoods which would lead to faster rot and decay.
Additionally your outdoor kitchen will more than likely be placed on a concrete slab foundation. Depending on the design of your outdoor kitchen your cabinets or bar will be sitting on top of the concrete.
Concrete wicks moisture so softwoods sitting on top of concrete will rot faster at the base.
These are just a few reasons why we don’t recommend these softwoods for an outdoor kitchen.
Best Woods for Outdoor Kitchens
There are a few species of wood that we’ve found to be proven to perform incredibly well in outdoor environments such as outdoor kitchens.
These species are Ipe, Cumaru, Tigerwood, Garapa and Massaranduba. They all come from South America and have proven to last up to 75 years or more with very low maintenance.
Above you’ll see a picture of an outdoor kitchen built with Ipe wood deck boards. The deck is also built with Ipe wood decking.
Ipe wood decking is one of the most durable, long lasting decking woods available. It is more durable than teak and is more cost effective as well.
It is also naturally resistant to mold, mildew, rot and decay, wood boring insects can not chew through the wood, It has a Class A rating against flame spread, does not splinter like softwoods and it has proven to last 75+ year on commercial boardwalks like Coney Island boardwalk in New York.
Here’s another outdoor kitchen built with Ipe Wood:
The second most durable wood we recommend for outdoor kitchens is Cumaru which is also known as Brazilian Teak.
Cumaru is almost identical to Ipe it’s just got a little more color variation which ranges from golden brown to a reddish brown. Ipe is more consistent in color which is a chocolate brown.
Many people are drawn to Cumaru because it’s typically 30% cheaper and also a very beautiful and durable wood. It has all the similar properties like Class A rating against flame spread which makes it an excellent wood for outdoor kitchens.
While we don’t have pictures of an outdoor kitchen built with Cumaru wood most of the jobs we supply are used to build decks.
Just like Ipe wood is most commonly used to build decks both of these woods are great for a wide array of outdoor projects.
Here’s a picture of a deck built with Cumaru:
Tigerwood Outdoor Kitchen
This is our 3rd most popular option for an exterior hardwood that is great for outdoor kitchens.
Tigerwood is not quite as dense as Ipe or Cumaru but it’s still a very dense and durable hardwood that’s great for outdoor use. In fact Tigerwood is more than double the Janka hardness compared to Teak.
These 3 wood species are the best woods that we recommend for outdoor kitchens.
When building an outdoor kitchen with wood you can often use short length boards depending on your design of course.
A silt fence is a temporary sediment (loose soil) control fence used primarily on construction sites to protect the water quality in nearby bodies of water such as lakes, rivers, streams, ponds and oceans. They are most commonly constructed of a geotextile fabric with embedded wood stakes spaced every couple feet. The wood stakes are commonly made from lower grades of domestic lumber that do not meet the strict grades for cabinet grade lumber. Some manufacturers of silt fences have reached out to us in search for a strong wood that can withstand tough soil conditions. Soil that contains a lot of clay or rocks will often snap the standard wood stakes that you standard silt fences are constructed with. We have supplied silt fence stakes made from sustainable South American hardwoods to a silt fence manufacturer who was in search of stronger wood stakes. South American hardwood stakes do not contain any chemicals, are naturally rot resistant and up to 3 times harder than oak which make them the perfect choice for a silt fence stake that is intended to keep our water ways clean. In addition sometimes a “super” silt fence is required by agencies such as the EPA on certain projects. Super silt fences are commonly constructed with a chain link fence embedded into the ground and a standard silt fence placed in front of the chain link fence to control the sediment run off. This method makes a much stronger silt fence but is much more labor intensive and more costly. Some manufacturers are testing our South American hardwood stakes to make a “super” silt fence that does not require the added chain link fencing. The chain link adds extra strength to the silt fence. Since our hardwoods are 3 times harder than oak a super silt fence made with our hardwoods may not require the added labor and costs of the chain link method. For more info and pricing got to our Hardwood Stakes page.
Every year he used regular domestic wood stakes such as cedar and oak and a lot of them.
The problem he had was each year he would lose hundreds of his stakes because they broke as they were being pounded into the hard ground or they would rot after only a couple years of use.
One of his main sources of income is his tomato farm where he supplies restaurants, canning companies, and grocery stores with tomatoes.
Losing hundreds of tomato stakes each year was a major set back in time spent getting the tomato plants tied up to the stakes as he sourced and purchased more.
This was costing him a lot of money both in time and the cost of replacing the stakes.
He found us online when he was looking for the best wood for outdoor applications and contacted us. As soon as he told us his problem we told him he needs to use a wood specie such as Ipe, Tigerwood, Cumaru, Garapa, Massaranduba or Angelim Pedra.
We showed him how well all these species work for decking and have proven to last 75+ years with no chemical treatment ever needed. They will not rot in the ground and they are up to 3 times harder than oak.
We custom cut the stakes for him and shipped a whole pallet to his farm.
He was delighted with how strong they were his farm laborers did not break a single one when they pounded them into the ground. He sent us this picture of the field they were used in.
He said he’ll be replacing his old stakes used in his other fields next year. He was very happy with the wholesale price we were able to give him for the bulk tomato stakes.
He said they are about the same price he was buying the domestic wood stakes from his local sawyer.
He estimated with what he was spending on stakes each year and even if these only lasted him 10 years it will save him several thousand dollars.
If you need the best tomato stakes in bulk and would like to purchase a large quantity please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
This week at our mill in Brazil they are finishing up some ship lap hardwood trailer decking. This hardwood trailer decking is made from Angelim Pedra which is commonly called Brazilian Apitong. Brazilian Apitong is used for most of the high quality flatbed trailers and lowboy trailers in North America. This wood can withstand years and years of excavators, bulldozers and all the harsh muddy and wet elements that heavy equipment trailers see in day to day operation. Brazilian Apitong can far outlast North American hardwood trailer decking which gives trailer owners more time to using their trailers to haul heavy equipment than ripping up old worn down and rotted trailer decking. If you are looking for the best wood for a trailer deck whether you have a small utility trailer or a fleet of flatbeds give us a call for some deals on trailer decking. 1-877-232-3915