Why Ipe decking is better than any other decking material.
Why is Ipe decking such an amazing product? It’s one of the only hardwood decking options that will probably outlast your home ownership. With a lifespan of more than 40 years, this exotic hardwood is well-suited to porch, siding, deck, or interior flooring applications.
Appreciating Prize Characteristics
The high density and extreme hardness of Ipe has earned it the nickname “Ironwood.” The Class A fire rating, putting it on par with concrete or metal, adds to the allure of this reddish brown species. Rarely splintering or splitting during machining and enduring minimal movement and shrinkage after installation also add to the list of prize characteristics.
Sourcing Grade A Specimens
Even though no official industry-wide grading system for Ipe currently exists, the Ipe we import here at J. Gibson McIlvain would undoubtedly be Grade A. We define that level as being defect-clear on at least 3 sides. Such defects of which our Ipe is virtually free include borer holes, sapwood, and knots, as well as interlocking or reversing grain which promotes tearout during planing.
In addition to lacking holes or knots, we believe Grade A Ipe also demonstrates consistent color and either straight or cathedral grain patterns. Even though quartersawn Ipe will necessarily include raised grain that reveals medullary rays, we don’t consider that a defect: Instead, it’s a sign of quartersawing, which promotes stability. The ridges caused by upraised grain can easily be sanded.
By purchasing only Grade A Ipe, we can use only a select few mills to harvest and saw our Ipe decking. Because Ipe quality control is of utmost importance, we don’t mind the extra effort it takes to secure high-end lumber.
Discovering Ideal Applications
While decking may still be the primary application for this wonder wood, other applications for Ipe abound: bridges, marinas, outdoor furniture, boardwalks, and myriad other outdoor applications.
When properly kiln dried, Ipe can also be used for high quality interior flooring. This species’ remarkable durability makes it often used for high-traffic areas where customers require a product that will last.
As it ages, the rich brown coloring naturally fades to an attractive silvery color. For those who prefer the lustrous darker hue, periodic treatment with timber oils can help the boards retain the wood’s original appearance.
Evaluating Moisture Content
J. Gibson McIlvain Company carries two options for Ipe decking: air-dried boards that are surfaced on 4 sides (S4s) and eased on 4 edges (E4E) or kiln-dried, rough-sawn lumber. The kiln-dried wood, which is necessary for use in climate-controlled interiors, has a moisture content of 6-8%. The air-dried decking is dried until it has a moisture content level of 12-18%, ensuring that checking and excessive movement will be prevented during exposure to the elements. Installation with either hidden clip fasteners or face screwing is possible, and we can provide already grooved material upon request. We can also provide you with the screws, bits, sealer, and Ipe clips to complete your decking project.
While no wood species will have exactly the same set of characteristics that makes Ipe such an ideal wood, certain species may offer comparable strengths, making them possible Ipe-substitutes depending on your particular project and environment. Learn about each Ipe alternative below: