Sometimes the winners of popularity contests don’t deserve all the hype that surrounds them. Ipe decking, however, has a well-earned reputation for longevity and beauty that makes its rockstar status among decking lumber understandable. If you’re looking for the best decking material available, Ipe decking is, hands down, the lumber-of-choice for your project.
Sometimes called “Ironwood,” Ipe decking boasts amazing density and hardness that makes it a long-lasting investment. Because of those highly prized qualities, Ipe decking absorbs very little moisture and resists damage caused by insects. Even untreated Ipe has a “Class A” rating for fire-resistance, which is the same classification as metal and concrete. With a lifespan of over 40 years, it will likely last as long as you own your home.
From a woodworker’s perspective, Ipe is great to work with because it rarely splits or splinters. It also machines well and generally experiences very little movement or shrinkage after installation. While famously used for decks, Ipe is also used commonly for applications such as porches, bridges, public boardwalks, outdoor furniture, and indoor flooring; however, it does require kiln-drying for interior applications, such as flooring.
The appearance of Ipe decking is similar to other tropical hardwoods, with a luxurious, deep brown color and tight grain pattern. Untreated, weathered Ipe fades to a silvery patina, but the brown color can be retained through regular treatments of timber oil.
One consideration in whether the Ipe decking you buy deserves to win a popularity contest is the source and quality of the lumber supplied to you by your chosen wholesaler. J. Gibson McIlvain (www.mcilvain.com) carefully oversees each stop along the supply chain to ensure that the Ipe decking we sell achieves optimal legal and social responsibility as well as the highest quality possible.
Ipe is sourced from rain forests of South America, mainly from the country of Brazil. We have field agents who visit each mill in person to make sure they responsibly manage their forestry practices. We observe the entire harvest process with our network of hand-picked mills and graders to ensure that the Ipe decking we import has been harvested properly and displays the consistent coloring and straight graining our customers desire.
At J. Gibson McIlvain, we realize that quality includes more than knowing that lumber is classified as FSC and individually inspecting it for appearance, stability, and consistency: It also coordinates with job-specific demands. We often inspect our lumber with customer requirements in mind. Because of difficulty in monitoring the quality of decking products moulded in Brazil before importing, we perform much of our milling and grooving right here at our Maryland headquarters.
Of course, the kind of high-quality Ipe decking that J. Gibson McIlvain and other top-notch lumber wholesalers supply don’t come with the lowest price tags you can find. While shopping early in the summer and ordering odd-length boards will help alleviate unnecessary expenditures, in the end, you’ll have to be willing to pay more if you want quality products that will stand the test of time.
Buying Ipe Decking
- J Gibson McIlvain Co sells Ipe by the quarter, half and full truck load
- Ipe to Go (a division of Hardwood to Go) sells small quantities of Ipe
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