You will see on our site that we say up to 75-Years. Some people say, how can a wood last this long? This brings up some good points that people often don’t think about. Ipe material can absolutely last up to 75 years, and indoor flooring may be longer. But I am going to list five major considerations that you have to take into account.
1. Application and Exposure – If you are comparing a pier that’s in the sun all day to a covered porch, this will be drastically different. However, up to 75 years is reasonable as even the Coney Island Ipe Boardwalk, which was made in the 1940s and has been in high traffic commercial use for over seven decades, used Ipe decking. They have replaced some boards from time to time, but remember this is a high-traffic commercial site, next to the seawater and with full sun exposure
2. Size of Boards – If you buy the smallest boards, like a 1×6 instead of a 5/4×6, you will not get the same lifespan; thicker boards weather better over time. Thicker boards also enable you to sand it if needed, bringing back a beautiful face to the project many more times and also giving you more options for remediation if needed in the future.
3. Board Modification I.E., Grooving – If you groove or pre-groove the boards, it can further reduce the lifespan, as it is creating a weaker side where the groove is in the board. This is also if you leave holes in the boards from predrilling or having milled areas that increase potential exposure. Anything that creates more surface or areas for weathering to affect the boards.
4. Treatment – Annual maintenance on Ipe is not required if you are okay with the boards turning grey. We currently recommend and sell only Messmer’s and Ipe Oil. The chemicals have been changing due to regulations, and some brands we are finding are requiring more frequent treatments to keep the boards with a finish looking good. The treatments can further extend the life, but again, it is not necessary with Ipe.
5. Lumber Quality – When buying, often times customers will try to make a lower-grade board work to save money. This can affect longevity due to the defects that make boards lower grade. This occurs due to the weather, such as rain or snow, getting into things like knots. When water snow or temperature change occurs, it can cause the defects to expand and contract and lose stability and even expand. The longest-lasting boards for Ipe are FAS grade which has very little or even no visible defects in the boards.