Category Archives: Ipe Wood

How to Seal Ipe Wood

Ipe wood does not need to be sealed like traditional softwoods such as redwood, pine and cedar.

These softwoods have an open grain structure that allows water to penetrate deep into the wood cells like a sponge.

As a result softwoods need a waterproofing sealer that forms a top coat to keep water from penetrating the wood.

If softwoods are left unsealed for prolonged time periods they can deteriorate and rot much faster.

Homeowner sanding deck stain and sealer off an old cedar deck

These top coats will flake and peel off after only a year or two. Then ideally you would sand the entire deck and apply another sealer on top of the deck.

This is a lot of maintenance and what most people think of when it comes to sealing a wood deck.

What Maintenance Does Ipe Wood Require?

Unlike softwood decking Ipe wood does not require a waterproofing sealer to keep the wood from rotting.

Ipe is over 3 times harder than Teak and if you leave Ipe untreated it will turn a beautiful silver grey.

Grey Ipe Wood Deck
Grey Ipe wood deck

When Ipe turns grey it still shows the beautiful wood grain and maintains all of its durability and will still last up to 75 years or more.

Ipe is so dense and contains a natural oil that if you tried to seal it like you do a traditional wood deck it would peel right off.

Maintaining The Color of Ipe Wood

Ipe Oil
Ipe Oil applied to Ipe wood decking

The sun will bleach the color out of most materials and wood is no exception. UV rays are what causes wood to turn grey outdoors.

To stop Ipe wood from turning grey we recommend applying a special oil that’s specifically formulated for hardwoods like Ipe wood.

This is what most people mistake when they think I have to seal my Ipe wood.

The oil keeps the sun from bleaching the rich brown color from the Ipe wood. It’s basically like sunscreen for your Ipe.

Ipe Oil will not flake or peel off like a sealer on a traditional wood deck so it’s much lower maintenance.

Ipe Wood Maintenance Instructions

Maintaining your Ipe wood is typically very simple and these steps will help you keep your Ipe wood looking good for many years.

Step 1 – Wash your Ipe wood deck

You want to make sure our deck surface is free from dirt, debris, pollen and etc… before applying the oil on your Ipe wood.

Follow all the instructions on the can of Ipe Oil. You want to make sure you have adequate weather with the right temperatures and no rain in the forecast.

If needed you can pressure wash your deck with a wide angle fan tip nozzle. Do not use a concentrated fine tip as those can even damage concrete.

Step 2 – Apply the Ipe Oil

After allowing your deck to thoroughly dry you can apply the Ipe oil using a brush or roller. Make sure to follow all the instructions on the can of Ipe Oil.

This process goes pretty fast since the oil spreads very easy and saturates the Ipe wood evenly.

This is not like water sealing cedar or pressure treated where you need to brush it back and forth to work the sealer into the grain to make sure everything has a top coat.

Ipe Oil has a viscosity very similar to water and Ipe wood is so dense the roller will easily coat the boards.

Step 3 – Wipe up any excess Ipe Oil

Ipe wood is so dense it will only soak up so much of the Ipe Oil. You need to go back with a clean rag after 10 minutes and wipe up any excess or wet looking spots.

This will keep your Ipe deck from getting tacky. After that you can dispose of the rags properly (follow the instructions on the can) oil based rags balled up often can start on fire.

Best Wood For Outdoor Benches

If you are looking to build a new outdoor wooden bench or resurface and old outdoor bench read on as we’ll cover the best woods you can use for your bench.

Outdoor benches are most commonly made with pressure treated pine or cedar. The problem with these species is they are soft woods that generally require annual maintenance and application of a water sealer.

Softwoods like pressure treated pine and cedar have a open and somewhat porous grain structure which can tend to absorb water almost like a sponge.

While these woods do have some resistance to rot and decay and can last many years if properly maintained.

Many people find the maintenance to be too much work, so their outdoor bench gets neglected as shown in the picture below.

Old Pressure Treated Pine Bench with Peeling Stain

Stripping the old stain off an old bench like this one can be a lot of work getting in between all the bench slats. These benches often get neglected and have paint or stain peeling off the majority of the bench.

Once this occurs the wood is left unprotected and when it rains the wood usually stays saturated for an extended time period making them often undesirable to sit on.

In addition these softwoods can give off splinters and eventually get attacked by wood boring insects which can also make them not pleasant to sit on.

Is Composite Plastic Lumber Good for Outdoor Benches?

In our years of experience selling exterior lumber for decks and other exterior projects we’ve seen too many complaints from homeowners to make us comfortable selling any plastic lumber for now.

Every week we get complaints from homeowners who installed a composite plastic deck a few years ago that need to replace their entire deck because it’s failing and the manufacturer won’t honor their warranty.

Crumbling Composite Decking

If you want to read more about all the issues homeowners have faced with these products just Google search “composite decking problems”, “composite decking complaints” or “brand name decking reviews”.

You’ll be able to read about plenty of issues homeowners have struggled with so as a result of all this feedback we generally stay away and don’t recommend these products.

The 5 Best Woods for Outdoor Benches

Ipe (pronounced EE-pay) is an all natural hardwood that is more than three times harder than teak. It has shown to last up to 75 years or more on many commercial applications such as the Coney Island boardwalk and the Brooklyn bridge.

Ipe Wood Bench

This hardwood is one of the strongest woods in the world and naturally resists wood boring insects. Ipe wood does not splinter and will not get incredibly hot like plastic lumber.

In addition it’s also naturally slip resistant, has a Class A rating for flame spread, is scratch resistant and naturally mold and fungi resistant. It’s also so dense that it does not absorb water.

All of these excellent natural properties make Ipe wood our number one recommendation for not only decks but many outdoor projects such as outdoor wood benches.

You can view our current Ipe prices here: Ipe Wood Prices

Cumaru Wood

Similar to Ipe Cumaru wood is nearly identical in terms of properties and durability. The main difference is the color color ranges from a golden tan to a reddish brown.

Cumaru Deck

You can still expect all the same excellent properties as Ipe.

This excellent wood is also low maintenance, resistant to wood boring insects and naturally resistant to rot and decay without chemicals.

One other benefit to using Cumaru is the price can be upwards of 40 percent cheaper compared to the price of Ipe wood. You can view the current Cumaru wood prices here: Cumaru Wood Prices

Tigerwood Exterior Lumber

This beautiful wood also comes from South America and is incredibly durable and beautiful. You can expect a 30+ year lifespan with Tigerwood.

Similar to the other woods we listed above Tigerwood is also resistant to wood boring insects, mold and mildew and does not splinter. This is another excellent low maintenance exterior wood material that works great for benches, decks, fences, siding and more.

Tigerwood Decking

Garapa Wood

Also known as Brazilian Ash this incredible exterior hardwood is one of the finest quality hardwoods that features a fine-grain that is light yellow to a warm golden hue.

Garapa is naturally resistant to rot, decay and insect attack and offers a 30+ year lifespan. Garapa’s proven exterior durability make it an excellent choice for outdoor benches, decks and more.

Garapa Deck

You can find more info and pricing here: Garapa wood prices

Massaranduba Wood

Also known as Brazilian Redwood Massaranduba is much more durable than California Redwood, has a longer lifespan and requires much less maintenance.

In fact Massaranduba is over 7x harder than California Redwood. With a janka hardness of 3,190 compared to California Redwood which has a janka hardness of 420.

California Redwood is a softwood and requires annual maintenance of applying a water sealer to keep water out of the grain of the wood to prolong its life and prevent rot and decay.

Just like the first four species of exterior hardwoods that we recommended, Massaranduba naturally resists rot, decay and wood boring insects.

In addition Massaranduba is also a very low maintenance exterior hardwood and offers a 30+ year lifespan. This makes it great for many projects such as exterior wood benches, decks, siding and more.

Checkout these beautiful outdoor wood benches that were built with our beautiful South American hardwoods.

Ipe Tree

What Does Ipe Stand For?

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.

Ipe vs. Teak

Burmese Teak board shown above is genuine teak (not plantation grown)

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

Ipe Wood Deck
Ipe Wood Deck – Miami, Florida

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
  • Environmentally friendly
  • Low maintenance
  • Up to a Class A fire rating for flame spread
  • Termite, Mold & Fungi resistant
  • No knots
  • 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

You can view current ipe prices as well as get more information and free samples from AdvantageLumber.com

painted wood pergola

Can I Paint Ipe Wood?

Can you paint ipe wood? It’s a common question, and the experts will always tell you the same two things:

  1. No
  2. 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?

Can these ipe wood posts be painted?
These ipe posts could look striking if painted white. But is ipe wood paintable?

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.

Best Wood for Outdoor Kitchens

Best Wood for Outdoor Kitchens

Ipe Wood Outdoor Kitchen

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.

Ipe wood decking and Ipe outdoor kitchen cabinets

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:

Cumaru Deck

Tigerwood Outdoor Kitchen

This is our 3rd most popular option for an exterior hardwood that is great for outdoor kitchens.

Tigerwood Outdoor Kitchen

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.

We sell short length boards at a significant cost savings that can save you up to 50 percent. Click here to view these discounted hardwoods

Best Wood for an Outdoor Table

Ipe Wood Outdoor Table

If you’re building an outdoor table you want to build something that will last for many years to come without degrading and tons of maintenance.

Not all woods are created equal.

Some woods when used outdoors and exposed to harsh weather and UV rays will degrade quickly. This leads to splinters, rot and decay and you’ll eventually have to rebuild your outdoor table.

The most common wood that people build with for outdoor use is pressure treated pine.

Pressure treated pine is the most affordable option available, as a result many people build outdoor tables such as picnic tables with it.

The downside of pressure treated pine is that it’s a softwood that requires annual maintenance with water sealers. Eventually the weather and UV rays will degrade the pressure treated pine.

You will experience checking, splinters and even rot and decay eventually. You can expect a 15 to 20 year lifespan if you properly maintain your outdoor table each year.

If you’re looking for the best wood than pressure treated pine is not the best choice.

Cedar is the next most common wood option for outdoor use.

It’s known to many as a premium wood compared to pressure treated pine. It does offer some natural resistance to rot and decay.

However Cedar is still a softwood and will rot, decay, splinter and have all the same problems as pressure treated pine. This will also need a waterproofing sealer applied each year.

You can also expect a lifespan of 15 to 20 years if the proper maintenance is done each year.

The Best Wood for Outdoor Use and Tables

Deck with Fire Pit and Pavers
Deck built with Ipe wood

Ipe wood (pronounced EE-pay) is a South American hardwood that has proven to last on many commercial applications such as the Coney Island boardwalk for 75+ years with no treatment.

Here are some of the outstanding benefits of Ipe:

  • Lasts up to 75+ years
  • Low maintenance
  • Termite Resistant
  • No knots!!
  • Tight grain = No worry of slivers
  • Can outlast composite material
  • High density resist scratches
  • Nearly twice as strong as Oak
  • Better than teak
  • Environmentally friendly
  • One of the strongest woods in the world
  • Up to a Class A fire rating for flame spread
  • Mold & Fungi resistant
  • High slip resistance

We also recommend a few other species that have very similar properties to Ipe and offer different grain and colors.

The following woods are also extremely durable outdoors and are more affordable than Ipe.

Cumaru, Tigerwood, Garapa and Massaranduba

This outdoor table was handcrafted using Ipe and Tigerwood and it’s absolutely stunning.

Outdoor Table made with Ipe Wood and Tigerwood

If you are looking to build an outdoor table that will last a lifetime these woods will not disappoint you.

You can purchase them directly online from our website. We also have many deeply discounted shorter length boards that work great for outdoor furniture.

Since we primarily sell a lot of long length boards for decks we sell the shorter boards for a deep discount. Click here to see our discounted hardwood decking