Helping you plan your home improvement project, from start to finish

Ipe Hardwood Decking Cost Guide

When builders started working on the world-famous boardwalk at Coney Island, they chose a combination of woods for the project, and those woods included Ipe. Ipe is a type of tropical wood, but because it is only available from certain areas, not everyone knows about this material. While more expensive than other types of hardwood, it is strong enough and durable enough for use in a deck. Homeowners can use Ipe when building a deck attached to a home or one attached to a swimming pool.

The Costs

$3.50 to $5 per square foot

What is Ipe?

Ipe is a special type of tropical wood that is normally found in parts of Central America. As some manufacturers source the wood from South America and Brazil, some refer to it as Brazil walnut instead of Ipe. The material is much stronger than other types of wood used in decks, and it has a slightly dark color that many people enjoy. Those looking for a deeper or more intense color can stain the wood, but many homeowners simply seal the wood to retain its natural color. Ipe is resistant to heat and temperature changes, making it suitable for a variety of regions.

Materials Needed for a Deck

The list of materials needed to build a deck is so long that some homeowners will take one look at that list and decide to call on an expert for help. Homeowners will need a variety of bolts and screws to secure each board, a post hole digger for the support beams and various pieces of wood for the surface. When it comes to an Ipe deck, some save money mixing Ipe with other types of wood. They use cheaper wood for the posts and support beams and Ipe for the surface of the deck.

Installing an Ipe Deck

An Ipe deck consists of wood beams attached to joists, ledger boards and the Ipe decking material on top. After designing the deck, the builder will determine where to place the wood beams, which they refer to as support posts. They will need to use a post digger to dig into the ground, and they'll add wet concrete to each hole. The builder places the support post in the concrete and stabilizes it until the concrete dries. If the beams are not stable, the deck might lean or slant to one side.

After each beam dries, the builder will attach cross pieces between each beam and build up from there. A number of beams and joists need to be installed that will support the weight of people walking across the surface and any objects placed on the deck. These beams essentially form a large frame that holds the Ipe decking pieces in place. Most homeowners will also need railing placed around the top of the deck. They can choose from railings made from additional Ipe, vinyl or another strong material. A single mistake when building the deck can cause the entire deck to tilt or create other structural damage.

Other Costs of Ipe Hardwood

Prior to installing a new deck, homeowners should look at both the cost of the deck itself and the cost of labor. Ipe hardwood decking pieces range in price from $3.50 to $5 per square foot, and the cost of labor will increase the total price to around $20 per square foot. This price doesn't include the cost of additional materials used in the job, including the cement needed for the post holes and any railings or special decorations placed on the top or sides of the deck. Homeowners should always talk with a contractor about the overall price of the job including any special features. 

Ipe Decking Advantages and Disadvantages

Ipe is a type of tropical wood that comes with some natural benefits that homeowners won't find with other types of hardwood. Ipe is similar to teak in that it naturally releases a type of oil as it ages. This oil gives off a strong scent that repels bugs. Though some might opt to stain or paint the wood, using any type of material on the wood will prevent the natural oil from leaking out. Ipe does work well when treated with a type of natural protection product. This product will provide a light seal on the wood that blocks UV rays from the sun without interfering with its natural oils. 

The wood is also resistant to a number of problems, including damage caused by moisture. Other types of hardwood will absorb water when not properly sealed, which causes the wood to warp and swell. Water absorption can also lead to mildew and mold, but Ipe is resistant to all those problems. Ipe is also very durable, and experts believe that it can last for 40 years or longer, though some believe its life expectancy is closer to 25 years.

Despite the benefits of Ipe, there are some problems that homeowners should look at before buying. The biggest problem is that Ipe is a naturally hard and durable type of wood. It's nearly impossible to drill holes in the wood after placing it on the deck, which is why most builders will drill holes with specialized tools before placing the wood on the deck and securing it in place.

Homeowners should only buy Ipe from a reputable source. Some unscrupulous companies illegally source the wood from protected forests in Central America, and the United States government cracked down on the importation of the wood in recent years. Shoppers should ensure that the wood they purchase comes from a good source that can document where the wood came from and the legality of that wood.

Like most forms of hardwood, Ipe comes with both advantages and disadvantages. It is durable enough for use in areas with a lot of rainfall and in areas where the wood is exposed to saltwater. Though it does cost a little more than other types of hardwood, many people find that the benefits and look of Ipe outweigh any potential problems.

Last updated on May 5, 2014

Top Articles on Ipe Hardwood Decking

View All Articles

Looking for accurate quotes on your project?

  • Get multiple quotes for any home improvement project
  • See pro's rating, reviews, projects and more
  • 100% free, no obligations
  • Only takes a few minutes

Find pros in your area.

Close ×