Ipe is unquestionably unique among tropical hardwood decking species. Ipe stands head and shoulders above other decking species with a number of desirable qualities such exceptional hardness, density, and dimensional stability. You might begin to comprehend why Ipe is so well-liked if you take into account its 40-year lifespan and class A fire rating. However, on the flip side of the coin, Ipe can be difficult to work with due to some of those same qualities.
Ipe poses some distinctive problems both during and after installation, in addition to its odd pricing and availability challenges (see Part 1). Having said that, if you are aware of and prepare for these potential issues, you can be sure that your new Ipe deck will last far longer than your home’s mortgage – and possibly even than your entire lifetime.
Ipe’s Hardness & Density
Ipe is an exceptionally dense and durable wood, similar to other tropical decking wood types, and these character traits are both excellent attributes to desire in a decking material species. However, Ipe can be particularly difficult to work with because of its hardness and density, since it can be harsh on equipment and needs a little more care to prevent splitting.
Make sure holes have been pre-drilled before installing hidden fasteners or screwing down Ipe decking planks. Ipe’s great density prevents wood fibers from easily compressing, which makes it likely that without pre-drilling, the boards may break. These holes must be bored using a heavy duty drill and driver, and they must be larger holes than the ones required.
Ipe is more than five times as hard as pressure-treated Pine decking lumber, therefore only the most powerful cordless drills will be able to handle the job. You should be sure to have extra drill bits available, just in case you damage a few. Remember that those extra steps will also need more manpower, so be sure to account for that in your project’s overall pricing and timetable.
Ipe’s Robustness & Stability
Ipe’s inherent dimensional stability is further improved by quartersawing. Ipe that has been quartersawn also lets the constant vertical grain shine through, creating a lovely striping on the face. Despite the benefits of utilizing quartersawn Ipe, there is a drawback: the internal tree structures are visible on the surface of the boards.
These structures, often referred to as medullary rays, were originally employed to move nutrients from the exterior to the interior layers of the tree. Medullary rays are present in all species of timber, but they have less impact on the overall look and feel of boards that come from species with lower densities. The medullary rays, however, of quartersawn Ipe will be seen as rough, raised lines over the faces of the decking boards. All that will be required on your end is using a light plane or sanding the boards. Again, you should plan your project keeping this additional labor in mind.
Continue reading with Part 3.
J. Gibson McIlvain Company
Since 1798, when Hugh McIlvain established a lumber business near Philadelphia, the McIlvain family has been immersed in the premium import and domestic lumber industry. With its headquarters located just outside of Baltimore, the J. Gibson McIlvain Company (www.mcilvain.com) is one of the largest U.S. importers of exotic woods.
As an active supporter of sustainable lumber practices, the J. Gibson McIlvain Company has provided fine lumber for notable projects throughout the world, including the White House, Capitol building, Supreme Court, and the Smithsonian museums.
Contact a sales representative at J. Gibson McIlvain today by calling toll free (800) 638-9100.
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