Those looking for a dark and durable type of deck should look no further than Ipe wood decking. In fact, Ipe is so durable, one can not drill holes in this strong Central American wood once it has been installed. As you can imagine, given its hardness, Ipe is a logical bet for areas that see a lot of rainfall.
These are just some of the advantages Ipe wood carries over its competitors. Continue reading to see all the costs, pros, cons, materials needed and DIY tips for Ipe hardwood decking.
Ipe Wood Costs
Given its long lifespan, one would expect the price to tower over all leading deck options. Fortunately, the average price of Ipe wood decking is between $3.50 - $5 per square foot. Compared to the other decking options below, $5 seems relatively cheap.
- General Wood Decking: $2 - $5 per square foot
- Treated Wood Decking: Approx. $2.35 per square foot
- Cedar Decking: $3.75 per square foot
- Pine Decking: $5 to $11 per square foot
- Plastic Decking: $6.25 to $9.40 per square foot
- Redwood: Approx. $7.75 per square foot
- Mahogany Decking: $8.80 to $9.90 per square foot
While many homeowners hire decking pros to complete the job, some can handle this challenging DIY project on their own. If you go with a pro, expect the labor cost to bring 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.
What is Ipe Wood?
Ipe is a type of tropical wood sourced from all over Central America, most of which manufactured in South America and Brazil. In fact, some pros call it Brazilian Walnut. While Ipe is already very dark, some stain the wood while others just seal their deck.
Ipe Wood Decking Advantages
Naturally resistant to numerous outdoor factors, Ipe offers many advantages other common decking options simply can’t match.
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First and foremost, Ipe is very durable and experts believe that it can last between 25 and 40 years. Ipe does not need to be sealed and is resistant to damage caused by moisture. Other types of wood decks will absorb water when not properly sealed, which causes the wood to warp and swell. This can lead to mildew and mold. Fortunately, Ipe hardwood owners don’t have to worry about either.
Ipe, much like teak and cedar, releases a type of oil as it ages. If you do not stain your Ipe deck, these oils will detract bugs and other harmful termites.
Given all the pros above, Ipe is ideal in areas with a lot of rainfall or when the wood is exposed to saltwater.
Ipe Wood Decking Disadvantages
Given its durable nature, one could assume that Ipe is one of the hardest decking options on the market. Well, one would be correct.
Ipe is so hard that it’s nearly impossible to drill holes in after placing it on the deck. Most builders drill holes with specialized tools before placing the wood on the deck and securing it in place. If you’re installing the deck yourself, be sure that all the holes are in place before you install your Ipe deck.
Given its locale, sadly, some companies illegally source Ipe wood from Central America. If you are buying Ipe and installing yourself, make sure the supplier can document where the wood came from.
Building a deck on your own is no easy task, but one many active DIYers can accomplish. As such, below are some of the steps and tips one must follow to build a quality Ipe wood deck.
Tip: Before you start out, even DIYers should talk to a deck builder or real estate pro to see what options will add value to the home.
There are plenty of items needed to build an Ipe deck. While all of these are not 100% necessary, each tool does make the process easier.
- Brad point drill bits
- Torx screws
- Post hole digger or shovel
- Support beams
- Cement mixer
- Tape measure
- Protective eyewear
Ipe Wood Deck Installation Tips
First and foremost, you have to decide on the location of the deck. Some do it right outside the home and some install farther out. Needless to say, this plays a key role in where the support posts will go. The support posts will be attached to the joists and ledger boards with the Ipe wood on top.
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Once you have a plan in place, you need to have all of the required building permits applied for and approved. Check with your county, city or town, subdivision and homeowners association for their required permits. This process can be a hassle, but well worth it once the deck is complete.
As you have read all along, regardless of whether you’re using nails or deck screws, pre-drilling is highly recommended. Do not use nails for an Ipe deck. They can pop out over time.
To cut your Ipe deck, go with carbide tipped saw blades. For drilling, go with brad point drill bits and torx screws.
Ipe Clip® deck fasteners are some of the best on the market. Unlike deck fastening systems that require screws to be installed vertically, the Ipe Clip® deck fastening system requires deck screws to be installed at a 45° angle. It’s been proven that installing hidden deck fasteners at a 45° angle will produce a much more stable, solid deck.
For other deck fastening options, please see Ipe Decking.
Decks need space. With Ipe decking, a 1/16” gap is adequate for air circulation and water drainage. However, joist spacing is a different animal all together. For 1X4 or 1X6 planks, 16” of joist spacing is ideal. For 2X6, 32” should suffice.
Decking oils that work well with Ipe decking include Ipe Oil™, Messmers UV Plus, CWF Flood Finish and Sitkens Deck Finish. Just know, using any of these finishes will darken the wood. These finishes are not meant to stain the decking. They protect the wood and will prevent your deck from fading.
For more tips on installing an Ipe deck, please see Ipe Decking.
After the deck is installed, the work does not stop. Standard maintenance items include:
- Hosing off any spills, mud, etc as needed
- Not allowing any items to rust and sit on the deck
- Sweep off any leaves
- Clean and re-oil the deck once a year or every other year (Can use bleach or warm water to clean)
For more deck maintenance, see what The Handyguys have to say below or check out 5 Maintenance Items Deck Owners Must Know.
Ipe is one of the strongest decks on the market. Just carrying a piece of Ipe alone will demonstrate the longevity power this decking option represents. Nonetheless, like any other decking option, it does come with its share of disadvantages. The ultimate decision is up to you.
If you are debating between Ipe and another wood deck, click here and chat (for free) with a decking pro near you.