Characteristics of Ipe Decking

When it comes to hardwoods, one of the preferred materials for decks is Ipe. Contractors, builders, and homeowners love its durability and hardness. Ipe decking will last for a long time. A tropical hardwood is native to South America; there are various sustainable sources of the wood.

Appearance and Color

The heartwood of Ipe has a color that ranges from reddish brown to blackish brown to yellowish olive brown. It is normal to see the wood having black and brown stripes. The Ipe wood has fine to medium texture. It features straight to their regular pattern of the grain.

Ipe is often mistaken for the Cumaru, which is another dense wood from South America. The difference is that the former is darker and don’t have the cinnamon/vanilla scent of Cumaru.

Moisture Content

Air-dried Ipe decking has around 12-15 percent moisture content, which is perfect for decking purposes. If you are using it for indoor spaces exposed to air conditioning and artificial heat, then look for kiln-dried wood.

Planks can air dry fast and can show some checking if dried quickly under the sun. It can lead to warping, especially in large timber pieces, such as 2×12. In some cases, screws are pulled out of the stringers. It is advisable to use 2 pieces of 2×6 instead of a single 2×12 plank.


Ipe is a very durable wood for decking. It is resistant to insects, fire, and rot. You don’t need to worry about the wood touching the ground even if you didn’t apply any preservatives to it. It can last for 15 years in the ground without any attacks from termites.

It has received the highest possible durable rating from the US Forests Products Laboratory. Ipe decking can last for at least 20 to 25 years. Your deck can easily last for three to even four decades with minimal maintenance work. If you apply deck oil or finish to all sides of the plank, your deck can last for a hundred years.


The downside of using Ipe wood is that it is difficult to work because of it of its density and hardness. It also has a high cutting resistance while sawing. Ipe can make cutting edges blunt that tradesmen require constant sharpening of their tools when cutting Ipe wood.

It is easy to plane the wood, but the grain can tear out on areas that are interlocked. It is also difficult to glue the wood properly, and it is advisable to prepare the surface first before applying the glue. The straight-grained wood also interferes with its finishing and polishing process.

Strength of Ipe Wood

Ipe is three times stronger than Cedarwood. It exceeds all the code requirements for decking and other exterior constructions. Your deck can easily handle snow, rain, and other harsh elements of nature.

These characteristics make Ipe the ideal material for outdoor decks. The best thing about the wood is that there are sustainable sources for it. Ipe is a beautiful dark brown wood that will last for years to come.

For more information check out our Ipe Facts page.

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