Ipe Decking - FAQ

Ipe decking is becoming the latest trend in home improvement. Yes, Ipe really is one of the strongest, longest lasting wood decking materials you can buy. However, before you buy ipe there are lots of other things you should know about ipe decking before building your deck.

Q: Does ipe decking really last longer than pressure treated wood?
A: Pressure treated wood boards have to be replaced every few years due to splintering, rot, mold and mildew. If you spend time painting them with expensive sealers every year, you may be able to double their life expectancy. Ipe decking lasts over 40 years without being treated, sealed or stained in any way. If you do use a U.V. Inhibitor on the the Ipe deck boards you can expect to see your Ipe deck to last around 100 years!

Q: Is Ipe really insect resistant?
A: Yes. Ipe doesn't need added chemicals to be insect resistant. It has natural oils and is extremely dense. This combination of oils and density helps it resist the aggressive wood eating insects of Brazil as well as the United States.

Q: Can I use ipe decking on my saltwater dock?
A: Absolutely! In fact, ipe is a much better choice than man-made materials or any other wood on the market for a saltwater dock!

Q: Isn't ipe decking more expensive than pine?
A: The initial cost is higher. But consider that you'll never have to pay for new boards nor pay for the skilled labor to replace them in your life, then the price advantage obviously goes to ipe! This is assuming, your cheap pine doesn't warp, splinter or get moldy ahead of schedule as frequently occurs with this poor quality wood. Overall, ipe decking has a better return on investment than pressure treated decking and composite decking.

Q: What kind of harmful chemicals is Ipe decking treated with?
A: None. That's pressure treated pine you're thinking of, which is treated with poisons and preservatives.

Q: Some salesman told me composite decking is better than any wood, is this true?
A: Composite decking materials are not the bargain they are made out to be. Let's examine the facts:
They all have toxic glues, PVC and/or "wood fiber" (a sawdust like material). The more plastic it has the more susceptible it is to sun damage, bending and partial melting. The more wood scrap pieces and sawdust it has in it, the more it acts like a sponge. Sucking in and holding water like that causes wood to warp and rot very quickly. And yes, termites love their food "per-chewed!" Also composite decking company warranties have been proven worthless and there are also a lot of problems and recalls you can find online.

Q: I heard ipe is stronger than any other wood and that it's actually what we used to call "ironwood" when I was a kid?
A: All true. In fact ipe is so much stronger and harder than other woods, you should use carbide tipped blades and tips. It's also recommended that you pre-drill your holes for screws.

Q: Don't I have to stain or seal my deck every year?
A: Not if you use Ipe! It lasts over 40 years with NO maintenance. It will change color from a dark brown to a beautiful silvery patina. If you wish to keep the new wood look, then you need to use oil with a U.V. inhibitor on the Ipe decking. There are also a few other quality hardwoods that don't need additional yearly labor.

Q: Is it true that Ipe is so dense it doesn't float?
Most Ipe boards will sink when placed in water.

Q: I'm concerned about the environment, why would I use solid hardwood?
Great question, you're a person after my own heart. You should buy Ipe from companies that have a strict environmental policy. It also helps to buy ipe from members of the Forestry Stewardship Council. Becoming a FSC Chain of Custody company is a lengthy, costly and complicated chain of custody/forestry practice certification process. This means that if you purchase lumber from a reputable company, that you are preventing rainforest from being clearcut for cattle ranching, firewood, and charcoal.

Responsible forestry practices include planting a number of new trees for every one harvested, only harvesting trees that have stopped seeding, and only doing business with forestry providers that play by the same rules. After all if they can't sell their clear cut lumber, they are much less likely to clear cut in the future.