Ipe is a very popular decking choice among contractors and homeowners due to its rich and vibrant beauty, easy upkeep, durability, and lifespan, but using ipe decking can be tricky. Ipe is a building material that is very specific and there are installation steps that must be followed in order for the Ipe to last long and look great. Due to the density of Ipe, regular tools may not be the best option when using them on Ipe, so make sure before you start working with Ipe that you have the proper tools and materials on hand. 

Our Tips for Using Ipe Decking

Make Sure You’re Ready 

When you are installing a deck you want to make sure that your design build meets all the proper municipal codes and ordinances. Prior to installing your deck, get in contact with your municipal office and educate yourself of the codes in your area so you can make sure you stay within them. If you build against a code, it could result in a large fine. 

Where and When To Use Ipe Wood 

Ipe Wood is usually air dried which makes it perfect for outdoor projects like siding and decking. You can also use Ipe for furniture, planters, and sheds. Ipe is such a versatile material you can use Ipe for just about anything you set your imagination to. It is typically used outdoors but you can use it inside too. 

Which Type of Ipe Should I Use?

There are three basic types of Ipe: pre grooved, standard, and tongue and groove. Depending on the project you are completing, there may be a certain style that works best. If you aren’t sure which one would work best, ask your supplier or contractor. 

Prepare for Installation 

Ipe wood has to adapt to the environment it is in before installed. This is important so that the wood does not warp, or buckle from temperature and humidity. Leave your wood in the environment for a few days to let it adjust before installing it for best results. 

Proper Spacing 

Make sure you take into account for the amount of space that will be taken up by the joists. Below is a grid to use as reference. 

Ipe Dimensions  Joist Spacing 
1×4 16”
1×6 16”
5/4×6 24”
2×6 32”

Use this grid as a resource to make sure that you don’t mess up on accounting for your spaces. 

Creating A Pitch 

It is extremely vital that when you are installing your deck you have a pitch. Without this, you can have some water issues and foreseeable damage. For a deck that is built of Ipe lumber the recommended pitch is ¼”. When you are using tongue and groove, it is important that you have a slightly steeper pitch so that water doesn’t stand in the grooves.

Leave a Gap 

When you install your Ipe, leave a gap of 3/32” between each board to allow for proper ventilation, as well as allowing for expansion of the boards in heat and cold.  Do not block the flow of air because this could cause the wood to cup and minimize the movement of the wood. Also, do not let water collect on or under your deck because this will cause the surface to dip and could potentially ruin your deck. Avoid using concrete under your Ipe deck because concrete holds in water which can make you Ipe moist, and you don’t want that. 

Sealing Your Deck 

Now that your deck is installed, you can seal your deck with a clear wax to stabilize your deck and prolong its life span. When you make a fresh cut, make sure to seal it within 24 hours and make sure that you don’t miss a section or apply it unevenly. 

Things To Keep In Mind 

When working with Ipe, like we mentioned before, make sure you have the proper materials and tools to work with Ipe. The most important materials to pay attention to are your saw blades, drill bits, fasteners and screws. Ipe is a very hard wood, which makes it hard to work with so you want to make sure your saw blades can withstand the strength and that the screws have enough power to penetrate the boards. 

We hope this guide is helpful to your next Ipe Project Build! Give us a call if you’d like to learn more about this exotic decking!