Ipe is amazing and highly regarded by experts as the best wood for outdoor use. There are some additional things to consider with the larger Ipe boards that are not as prevalent with smaller boards and some other species. One of the largest ones is Ipe timber cracking. The larger the board the more prone to cracking they are. This is not bad as the board is eliminating the pressure making it more stable and have less movement in the future.
Due to Ipe’s extreme density, timbers specifically boards that are larger than 3”x3” have a tendency to have surface cracking. This is normal and it is caused due to the fact that it is drying faster on the surface than it does at the core. These cracks happen when pressure needs to be relieved. Read ahead on how this cracking can be reduced or eliminated.
Surface cracking can be eliminated or reduced if the boards are Kiln-Dried. However many times when Kiln-Drying we are using Air-Dried inventory that may already have this cracking in it. This of course means that future cracking can be reduced, but existing cracks are already there.
Never Stops Moving
Moisture changes and additional outside forces can make more cracks possible. Wood will never stop this movement and this means your larger boards can continue to have more cracks over time.
These cracks usually do not affect the integrity of the board. In fact reducing the tension can help stabilize the board making it more structurally sound and have less future movement.
Preventing End Cracks
As with smaller boards, to help prevent end checking, the ends should be sealed. Unless we newly cut your timbers, all of our stored timbers have the ends factory sealed. If you are cutting them, you will want to seal again.
Sanding Cracked Boards
Sanding can help reduce the appearance of cracks, but almost never eliminates them altogether.
While cracking is normal, it can be reduced or eliminated by Kiln-Drying earlier, but this is still no guarantee because Kiln-Drying may occur after they are already cracked. This cracking is normal in larger boards and to be expected and does not reduce structural integrity. Any new cuts should be sealed with an end-grain sealer. If you want Kiln-Dried to make sure it is on your latest invoice on each item. This is how you can ensure you are getting Kiln-Dried boards.
Ipe Woods USA, stores and treats boards to prevent as much cracking as possible. But it is a natural process as Ipe is too dense and the outside dries faster than the core.