What You Should Know About Ipe Decking
Ipe (pronounced EE-pay), also known as Brazilian Walnut, is a dense exotic hardwood tree originating from the tropical forests of the Amazonian regions of South America.
Why Ipe Decking is so Popular?
Ipe is actually one of the densest hardwoods available, more than 2-1/2 times the hardness of oak, and is naturally resistant to rot and decay. It also has a very high fire rating due to its density and is known to last for years, which is why so many architects have specified ipe decking for many outdoor projects. Ipe decking has proven itself to last for many years in all types of climates and in all types of outdoor applications.
Ipe Harvesting Practices
Although ipe has been very popular for exterior decking and siding for both commercial and residential applications it has also been the target of illegal harvesting in many South American countries. Many North American and European architects, designers and builders have now begun to refuse to use ipe decking because of the lack of sourcing certainty. Ipe has already been overharvested (from both legal & illegal harvesting) in Northern Brazil and the lack of any respected government policy or agencies to track or report harvesting in the neighboring countries makes legitimate sourcing a real problem.
Illegal harvesting has been the major issue with all rainforest timber and has been documented many times. Even though many South American countries attempt to regulate the problem it's still extremely difficult to ensure the harvested lumber is legally taken.
Ipe Decking Uncertainties
Some American hardwood brokers and distributors are well aware if the situation and they never know for sure the legality of their source(s). Furthermore, most ipe harvested trees are now in their second and third growths and are not the same quality as the first growth trees were. Thus, Ipe decking boards in long lengths can be bowed, overly colorful, and individual boards in each ipe bundle vary in lengths. The longest ipe decking planks (16 to 22 feet long) are the most desirable and the most expensive. Lumber wholesalers never know for sure what the supply will be. Plus, Ipe prices are steadily rising due to supply and demand while the quality has been declining.
Lumberyard warranties for ipe decking are very vague and for good reasons. After all, it is just a board cut and milled from a tree, just like a 2x4. Grades, colors. lengths and quality of Ipe decking will vary from board to board and shipment to shipment, so buyer beware. Experienced decking installers and contractors know this and take it into account when bidding decking projects, but it still creates hassles because you cannot always get the lengths or quality boards needed for the jobs.
Ipe Decking Issues
Ipe is a natural rain forest tropical wood that is extremely hard, dense and can be milled into extremely long planks. This makes it an attractive choice for decking. At the same time it is known for cupping, buckling and twisting which make it difficult to install, Ipe should be acclimated to its surroundings before installation. Like all woods, ipe is not dimensionally stable, meaning it will grow and shrink as temperatures and humidity changes.
Ipe Decking Installation
One of the biggest hassles with ipe decking boards is hauling around 16-18 foot long boards, especially in tight spaces. Due to its weight it takes two guys to carry the long boards. The long boards also require a lot of room for storage. Because of ipe's density special carbide drills and saw blades are required and it requires much ore time for proper installation. Thus, the labor costs are much higher to install ipe decking.
The Smart Alternative to Ipe Decking
For over 25 years dassoXTR exterior bamboo decking has been the choice over ipe decking for many architects and specifiers Worldwide. It has all the unique features of ipe along with some added benefits. With dassoXTR planks no more worries about bowing, buckling, cupping or twisting. dassoXTR is the natural choice because it installs 30-40% faster, easier to handle, consistent quality and color and is dimensionally stable. Plus, dassoXTR exterior bamboo decking is rot and decay resistant and eco-friendly - with no VOCs or other harsh chemicals. dasspXTR planks are also backed by a 30 year warranty.
See below how dassoXTR exterior bamboo decking compares to ipe decking
- Modulus of Elasticity (MOE), which measures the material’s resistance to being deformed elastically (i.e., non-permanently) when a force is applied to it.
- Janka hardness scale, an industry standard that rates the relative hardness of wood, measuring its resistance to denting and wear.
- Decay and insect resistance testing.
See how dassoXTR compares to Ipe decking.
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If you would like to learn more about dassoXTR exterior bamboo decking and it's benefits feel free to Contact Us. We also have samples available that we can send to you upon request. Be sure to see our dassoXTR gallery for some of the projects dassoXTR products have been used on Worldwide.