Ipé (pronounced ”ee-pay”) is a tropical hardwood with unique performance characteristics that has earned a reputation as one of world’s toughest and best performing wood species. Its incredible durability, dimensional stability and attractive appearance make it particularly well suited for decking and other exterior applications.
The general appearance of Ipé heartwood is a lustrous rich reddish-brown colour, however closer inspection will reveal colour tones ranging from light to very dark olive brown, often with distinctive thin veins of lighter or darker striping.
Ipé has a fine texture with a closely and narrowly interlocked grain. It has a low to medium lustre. It has very few knots or other irregularities, and those that are present tend to be very small and infrequent and do not detract from its clear appearance.
Strength and Durability
There is no other wood species commercially available that offers the same level of strength and durability as Ipé Hardwood Decking. It is widely recognised that an Ipé deck can last in excess of 25 years, however the reality is that it could last far longer.
Both TRADA in the UK and the U.S. Forest Products Laboratory have classified Ipé as ‘Very Durable’ (25 year service). This is the highest rating available.
Density & Hardness
Ipé is an incredibly dense and hard wood species. With a Janka hardness rating of 3680 it is almost three times harder than Oak. It's dense cell structure contributes to its natural ability to resist attack from insects, decay, and moulds.
Ipé is very heavy with an average weight of about 1024 kg per cubic metre. Being particularly dense and hard Ipé is resistant to abrasion and therefore well suited for use as decking in high traffic areas.
Ipé is relatively easy to season; it dries rapidly with minimal checking, twisting or bow. The total shrinkage is remarkably low for a wood of this density and the rate of movement in service is also low.
Although no UK data currently exists, tests in the US have proven that Ipé has the same fire rating as concrete and steel. Ipé has been ASTM-E84 tested to National Fire Protection Code, Class A, Uniform Building Code, Class 1. This is the highest rating.
Storage and Handling
For best results store your Ipe decking out of direct sunlight and do not expose it to weather before installation. Keep the boards off the ground by stacking them flat on timbers placed on the ground; this allows air to circulate around the stack. Cover your deck boards with a waterproof breathable sheet to protect them from sun and rain until you are ready to install them.
Ipe decking can be crosscut with good quality chop saw using a tungsten carbide tipped blade. Ripping can be done on a standard table saw, using a good quality, well-aligned fence and a tungsten carbide tipped blade. When drilling, always use the highest quality drill bits available. If screwing through the face, use a countersink bit with a positive stop to ensure that all the screw heads end up at a consistent depth. Screws can be lubricated to make installation easier.
Routing or planing can be done with either high speed tungsten carbide cutters. The feed speed should be fairly slow.
A dust mask and eye protection should always be worn when working with any wood. Avoid the inhalation of wood dust. We recommend a dust mask with an activated carbon filter. Some people may have an allergic reaction to hardwood dust. Remove wood splinters immediately to prevent infection.