IPE Decking

When a large outdoor project is first considered, many things are taken in to account. Where will it go, how will it be used, what materials to use for construction and how long it will last are just a few of these. Choosing to use the tropical hardwood, IPE can help answer a few of the tough questions, particularly the one about how long it will last. Not only does this wood answer the question about the lifespan of the proposed project, it can help address a few others as well.

This wood comes from a species of tree that is indigenous to a tropical environment. Found throughout South America and Central America, it can also be found in some parts of Asia. The botanical name for the tree is Tabebuia spp. (Lapacho group) but it also goes by several common names which include Brazilian Walnut, Amapa, Cortez, Guayacan polvillo, Flor Amarillo, Greenheart, Madera negra, Tahuari and Lapacho negro. Trade names for the tree included, Pau Lope, Diamond Decking and Ironwood.

When used as a material for decking on outdoor projects it is hard to find another wood that can top all the advantages that IPE offers. These advantages include resistance to rot, mildew and insect infestation.

In a study done by the United States Naval Research Laboratories, wood that had been left in the ground untreated for fifteen years still showed no signs of termite attack. Also extremely resistant to decay and mildew, this wood lasts 40 plus years untreated and the United States Forest Products Laboratory gave the wood its highest rating. It found that with a single treatment of deck oil applied to the surface, up to a hundred years without attack by decay, fungi, mold and termites could be expected from projects constructed with this wood.

Ipe wood is approximately seven times harder that cedar and has a Janka rating of 3680. That makes this hardwood more than 368% harder than teak and it is much cheaper as well.

The unique properties of this wood are conferred by the dense cell structure found in the tree. It is one of the heaviest woods in the world and it actually sinks in water. It is the incredibly dense cell structure that is also responsible for the astonishing longevity of projects constructed using the hardwood. So durable is this amazing wood that when the city leaders of Atlantic City were faced with having to repair the famous boardwalk there, they chose to Ipe wood for the project.

In terms of decking around pools and hot tubs, this wood has several characteristics that make it ideal for this environment. This wood exceeds the Americans with Disabilities act requirements for Static Coefficient of friction in a wet environment and is strongly resistant to splintering. These are both important factors when contemplating decking to be used in a wet environment with lots of bare feet around. When you want a product that is maintenance free, safe and reliable, no other deck material can compare to the advantages of IPE wood.

Ronnie Tanner is a contributing writer at Everlasting Hardwoods. He writes about IPE decking and other industry specific topics.