Ipe wood is an excellent choice as far as tropical decking materials go. Not only is it durable, long-lasting, and available in high grades, it is renowned for coming in a variety of beautiful color choices. In this article, we will wrap up our series on Ipe (see Parts 1 & 2) by taking a closer look at those color variations as well as offering some general tips for Ipe decking installation.
Ipe Comes in a Variety of Colors
Ipe grows in a wide range of different geographic locations in its native territory of Brazil. Therefore, the Ipe wood from one region will not necessarily be similar in shade to the Ipe wood that comes from another area. The reason why this species of wood tends to vary so much in color has to do with differences in soil chemistry and climatic conditions throughout Ipe’s natural growing range. If you decide to go with Ipe for your next outdoor decking project, you may want to try to find out if all of the Ipe decking material included in your order was grown in the same region. If not, don’t be surprised if it tends to vary in color.
Some customers actually seem to like the different variety of color choices which Ipe lumber has to offer. Other customers prefer a more uniform look for their decking projects. Be sure to communicate with your lumber dealer at the time you order your Ipe boards so you won’t have any unpleasant surprises as far as color goes during or after installation.
Ipe is typically thought of as being a rich brownish red in color. Many customers consider this shade to be extremely desirable. However, like all exterior wood projects, if not treated, Ipe will fade over time due to exposure to the elements. The silver-gray appearance of untreated Ipe wood isn’t an unpleasant shade at all; it’s just not the wood’s original color.
Color Preservation Tips
If you want to keep your Ipe boards looking as close to their original shade as possible, some treatment will be in order. You’ll need to add timber oil. As an alternative, you could apply both a deck cleaner and brightener to your boards. Whichever treatment you choose, make sure to apply it on a regular basis for consistent color protection and optimal results.
Checking Prevention Tips
In order to prevent your Ipe decking boards from cracking (also known as “checking), the boards must be properly dried. You can request either kiln dried or air dried Ipe for your project. Air drying is usually acceptable for exterior Ipe applications, though kiln dried is normally necessary for interior projects. It’s also advisable to purchase boards that have been end sealed, which is another checking prevention measure. If for any reason your boards need to be cut to smaller lengths at your installation site, you’ll want to make sure sealer is applied to the freshly cut ends of those boards as well.
Ipe Decking Installation Fastener Options
There are several different types of fasteners available for securing Ipe decking boards in place. These would include Ipe clips, hidden clip fasteners, and conventional deck screws. There are pros and cons to each method, and it boils down to customer preference and cost. Discuss these options in depth with your deck installation contractor.
Once your Ipe deck is installed, there are still some important measures you’ll need to take to make sure it will perform well in the long run. It may require some extra sanding once the boards are secured in place. You should also apply a deck cleaner as well as a brightener for a fresh, clean look. The results will be well worth the effort.
Ipe is a unique, stunning, tropical hardwood that’s ideal for outdoor uses where durability and resilience are a must. We hope this introduction to this exceptional wood species will encourage you to consider Ipe for your next project.
J. Gibson McIlvain Company
As an active supporter of sustainable lumber practices, the J. Gibson McIlvain Company (www.mcilvain.com) has provided fine lumber for notable projects throughout the world, including the Supreme Court, celebrity homes, the White House, Capitol building, and the Smithsonian museums. For more information on J. Gibson McIlvain’s lumber products & services, call Monday-Friday toll free (800) 638-9100 to speak with one of their representatives.