In Part 1, we examined the potential for Ipe decking lumber to be rough and have the potential for warping, as well as steps that can be taken in order to ensure its stability. Now we’ll look at a couple other potential problems you may encounter when working with Ipe and how you can avoid or accommodate them. We think you’ll agree with the many Ipe enthusiasts out there that this fabulous species is worth the extra effort — and a few decades down the road, we don’t think you’ll regret your decking decision, either!
Ipe Is Hard on Tools
Ipe is hard and dense, which is mostly a good thing. But it also means it’s hard on tools. Not only do you need to make sure you’re using extremely sharp tools, but you’ll also want to make sure they’re hearty enough to handle such a dense species, or you risk losing a drill in the process. One way you can avoid potentially splitting boards is to pre-drill holes before installing any screws. Since the material surrounding the holes will not be easily compressed as many other species would be, you’ll need to drill large holes with a hearty drill. (Remember, Ipe is 600% the hardness of pressure-treated Pine!) You might want to keep a few extra drill bits on hand, too.
These extra steps mean extra labor and lead time, so you’ll want to make sure to include those in your planning, when it comes to both your bid or project calendar. By planning ahead for the extra steps required for working with Ipe, you can make sure that both your bottom line and your customer’s response are looking as good as the new deck you’re building.
Ipe Offers a Color-Matching Challenging
Some species approximate color matching better than others. Ipe is fairly unique in its wide growing area, and each mill and distribution center handles Ipe that comes from a variety of locations within that space. One of the results is that more variation in color can be seen in Ipe than in other species.
As an organic material, the natural beauty caused by variation in grain pattern and color sets wood apart from any kind of composite products; at the same time, when it comes to precise matching, wood simply can’t compete with manufactured products. Staining and pressure treatments can help unify color, but we’re still not talking about anything close to Pantone® color-matching here, folks.
In addition to the natural variety within the species, Ipe changes color as it oxidizes when it’s freshly sawn, as well as over time. Eventually, like most lumber species, the color of your Ipe will become more mellow, lessening the apparent distinction in color, from one board to another. Also like most other species, Ipe will become sun-bleached, taking on a silvery hue, over time. You can prevent this bleaching with staining or other treatments.
Even with the difficulties in color-matching and working with Ipe, it’s still the best species from which to build a deck, hands down.
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.
For more information on J. Gibson McIlvain’s lumber products and services, call Monday-Friday toll free (800) 638-9100 to speak with one of their representatives.