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.
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.
Resorts such as The Ritz Carlton often call us looking for the best wood for their exterior living spaces.
For resorts like this our first recommendation is Ipe wood decking and that what they decided to use.
The resort did have pressure treated pine and found that was not holding up in the harsh Florida sun. The grain on the pine would raise and people could trip or get slivers and it was becoming unsightly.
The Ipe wood they ordered from us compliments the beautiful Oceanfront views and will allow their patrons years of exterior beauty and enjoyment without the maintenance issues they experienced with the pressure treated pine.
Stop by and check out their lovely restaurant while enjoying the Oceanfront views they have an awesome Sunday brunch a swanky pool area, beautiful beach and now lots of beautiful Advantage Ipe Decking.
If you have a resort or commercial application and need the best exterior wood give us a call today or stop by the Ritz Carlton in Naples first to see our wood in use
We supply materials to not only resorts like this but also small backyard projects around the world. If you need a board, a bundle, a truckload, or more please give us a call. 1-877-232-3915
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. 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.
When someone first hears about Ipe wood and that it can last 70 plus years outdoors with no chemicals they don’t believe you. However it’s true and proven to last 70 years and longer.
In fact Ipe was used on the Coney Island boardwalk and lasted for 70 years before it was ripped up. It was then reclaimed by a furniture maker to build this cool lounge chair that resemble the iconic Cyclone roller coaster on Coney Island.
The 70 year old reclaimed Ipe on the Cyclone Lounger looks as good as the new material we sell. This reclaimed Ipe wood will probably last another 50 years.
Now if Ipe wood can last 70 years on the Coney Island boardwalk which has seen as many as 14 million people in one summer. How long do you think it will last for your deck or outdoor project?
The U.S. Naval Research Laboratory tested Ipe wood in the ground for 15 years to check it’s resistance to termite attack. They gave it the highest rating because there was no damage from termites.
Ipe is on of the best termite resistant woods without the use of chemicals. If you are looking to build a deck, fence, pergola or other outdoor project that you want to last a lifetime give us a call 1-877-232-3915 or buy ipe wood online
Years ago, many homes in the Northeast had front porches built directly over the basement foundation. The only thing holding back the cold snowy weather and the rain was 1 inch thick tongue and groove pressure treated porch decking that was painted to seal it from the elements and keep the water out.
This is not a good idea. It doesn’t take long for the paint to peel, and seasonal temperature changes will cause expansion and contraction, leaving hairline gaps that break the paint seal on the tongue and groove line. When bad rain storms hit and the wind blows just right, the covered roof offers little protection and the rain leaks into the basement. During the winter months, blowing snow sits on top of the porch, then on slightly warmer days it melts and leaks into the basement.
The water leaking down saturates the wood between the tongue and groove. The tight space blocks air flow and keeps the wood damp, leading to rot and decay.
This avid DIY guy and property investor in Buffalo, NY was forced to paint the porch every year and clear off snow throughout the winter. This was a lot of maintenance and just not always possible. When he bought the property, he knew it would all need to be redone. He started searching for solutions to create a water proof porch surface that would not rot and continuously leak into the basement.
He found the only products really made for this solution were special exterior vinyl sheets that could only be purchased and installed by certified installers. These sheets didn’t even come wide enough to cover his entire porch, which meant seams would need to be thermo-welded with a special heat gun.
Our customer found the average installation cost for these systems was $4,000 – $5,000, and quite frankly he did not like the look of these products. He said they just looked like the cheap flooring sheet goods you put on the interior of your house. In addition, he was having a hard time trusting the longevity of these products since they haven’t been around that long. He also worried that the seams would eventually fail or tear as shoes caught on on them.
It reminded him of the composite decking products that have had so many product failures and class action lawsuits. To top it all off, as a DIY guy who takes pride in doing quality work himself, paying someone that kind of money to lay down some sheets and essentially melt them together with a heat gun was like rubbing nails down a chalkboard for this home owner.
Here’s the solution our customer came up with: our Ipe deck tiles. They look much better, allowed him to save a lot of money by doing it himself, and kept everything rot-resistant and waterproof.
First he laid a few tiles the length of the porch to see where they would need to be cut:
He decided he wanted to have a continuous 6 inch Ipe board screwed into the outer rim joist and framing the entire porch. This way the tiles could float without any penetrations in the ice and water shield. Once he accounted for the width of the picture framed border, he cut the tiles to fit and decided to put the cut pieces against the house so there would be full tiles on the outermost edge of the porch.
He fixed a few rotted spots in the original porch by cutting them out and replacing them with one inch thick pressure treated wood, matching the existing material. Next he laid ice and water shield over the entire porch according to the manufacturer’s requirements, overlapping the ice and water shield appropriately and keeping everything water positive – starting at the outside edge of the porch and overlapping the seams as you work your way toward the house.
Now that the entire porch was waterproofed, it formed a suitable foundation on which to float the tiles.
One important and obvious note to consider: make sure your front door will clear the tiles when floating on top with the deck tile connectors. In this case our customer had enough room, but he was planning on replacing the old outward-swinging door with an inward-swinging one, so it wouldn’t matter anyway.
We custom milled a 2 x 6 board to match the thickness of our 20 x 20 Ipe deck tiles. This board served as the picture frame for the deck tiles.
He also replaced the old crumbling concrete steps with Ipe decking, white vinyl risers, and vinyl railing.
Our customer said he’s been absolutely thrilled with the results, and the deck tiles have exceeded his expectations. He said the installation was a breeze since they just snap together with the DeckWise tile connectors. This picture is at the end of the first winter in Buffalo (you can see the snow pile in the back at the curb). The deck tiles still look amazing and he still can’t believe how much money he saved opposed to those ugly vinyl sheet products.
He needed 65 of our 20 x 20 Ipe deck tiles, which cost him just over $1,000. He purchased the railings from a local building supply store for around $700, and he got the Ipe deck boards, DeckWise tile connectors, and vinyl products for his risers and skirting. In the end, he completed the project for around $2,000.
Everyone in the neighborhood has complimented the new look – even the pizza delivery guy!
You can purchase deck tiles directly from us and we’ll ship them to your house or job site. No job is too big or too small.
Customers are attracted to businesses that look great and stand out. But standing out is difficult when you use the same materials as other businesses. One way to outshine the competition is to use a natural hardwood like Ipe for siding. Wood radiates a welcoming environment and evokes wholesome emotions that other materials can’t replicate. Continue reading →