Ipe faces a number of difficulties, starting with considerable seasonal variations in supply and cost linked to its inherent availability constraints as a result of the Brazilian wet season (see Part 1). Add to this the fact that several of Ipe’s most desired qualities also make working with it challenging in some particular ways (see Part 2). When it comes to Ipe, its extraordinary beauty and extreme longevity more than make up for the extra precautions you need to take when dealing with it.
Ipe Decking Preparation for Installation
Like other decking lumber species, Ipe is typically air dried to a moisture level of between 14 and 18% before being utilized for outdoor applications like decking. Ipe decking boards must be air dried in order to prevent warping, as opposed to kiln-dried boards, which are dried to moisture content levels less than 8%. Otherwise, your brand-new, lovely deck would be ruined by drier boards absorbing extra moisture from the air or from the first rain.
At the job site, Ipe decking should be kept out of direct sunlight, stacked, and stickered for at least two to three weeks to allow the boards to acclimate to the local climate, because different regions have varying levels of humidity. A 4-inch-wide board may swell or shrink by up to 1/8 inch during that time, while a 6-inch-wide board may do so by up to 1/4 inch. And believe us when we say that you want this kind of movement to occur prior to installing the screws holding the boards to your decking substructure.
Making a Plan for Installing Ipe Decking Properly
When installing your Ipe deck, the same moisture content considerations apply. Be careful to include appropriate ventilation when designing your Ipe deck. For a ground-level deck, ground side ventilation is crucial, because it will support uniform movement across the decking boards during seasonal changes in moisture levels. Tips for helping slow board movement include using end sealant on cut ends of boards and providing adequate ventilation; if you skip this crucial step, checking and splitting of the boards can quickly happen.
Matching Ipe Decking Boards in Color
Considering that wood is a naturally occurring resource rather than a manufactured commodity, color matching can be a challenging problem with any species of lumber. Even though there is a scientific explanation for color variance, it doesn’t appear to make a difference to the viewer when a deck looks disjointed with boards of varying shades.
Ipe exhibits a greater range of color and grain variety than other species. Ipe grows over a larger geographic range than the majority of other timber species, and each location has a unique set of environmental conditions that affect color. Ipe is transported from many locations into a single saw mill or distribution facility, therefore Ipe boards coming from a variety of locations typically make it into a single shipment.
As a result of oxidation, color differences will gradually fade over time, enabling boards to mix into more even matches with each other. You can encourage more even matching to take place faster through the use of wood stains or other finishing products.
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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