Ipe decking – About  

 Ipe or Ipé (pronounced “ee-pay”), also called Brazilian walnut, is a beautiful exotic wood from South America, mainly from Brazil. It is medium to darker brown in color, often with color and tones variation, which makes it very appealing. Ipe Wood Lumber is used for decks, siding, and fencing. It has an extremely long life in the outdoors. It can last up to 75 years, longer then any other lumber or composite decking. If you want to build something to last for a long time, Ipe is an excellent choice.

Ipe wood decking is an environmentally responsible choice which naturally resists rot, decay, insects and mold without the use of toxic chemicals commonly found in other decking products. Its hardness, strength and beauty make it perfect for exterior wood decking and siding applications. It is naturally fire resistant and has been awarded an ‘A1’ rating in fire resistance.

Our Ipe wood is harvested from naturally sustainable forests only. It has very high wear durability in daily use and is resistant to splintering and checking. Its longevity passes all other decking material choices, woods and composites included.

Ipe wood general Characteristics:

Dark brown or reddish-brown walnut colour. Ipe wood decking has a fine to medium texture.

Common Uses Decking, flooring, siding, docks, interior wall panels, sunrooms and many others.

Origins: South America (specifically Brazil) and Central America. The Tabebuia tree can be found in a diverse number of areas.

Ipe Decking Names: Common Name: Ipe (pronounced EE-PAY)

Scientific/Botanical Name: Tabebuia spp. (Lapacho group)

Additional Names: Ironwood, Brazilian Walnut, Ipe Brazil, Greenheart, Madera negra, Tahuari, Lapacho negro and others.

Ipe Decking Technical Info

Weight: Ipe wood decking has specific gravity of 0.85 to 1.08. Air dried density is 66 to 75 lbs. per cubic ft. A 3/4″ thick finish material weights approx. 4.5 lbs. per sq ft.

Drying & Contraction (green to kiln-dried): Radial 6.6%, tangential 8.0%, volumetric 13.2%. Small movement after being milled. As the weather changes, average movement for an air-dried deck board about 6″ wide is roughly 1/16″.

Hardness Rating: Ipe hardwood has a Janka Hardness Rating of 3,680 lbs with air-dried decking and 12% moisture content. When tested (ASTM-D143), an Ipe deck is approximately eight times harder than California Redwood and three times stronger than Teak. Ipe decking holds up even in harsh climates and extreme conditions.

Fire Resistance (Canadian norms): Tested by Underwriters’ Laboratories Of Canadaon Ipe Wood Canadademand,Ipedecking has passed the Intermittent Flame Test and The Spread of Flame Test for the CAN/ULC S107 equivalent of ANSI /UL 790 (STANDARD METHODS OF FIRE TESTS OF ROOF COVERINGS) and has been qualified as ‘Class A’, and therefore admissible as a rooftop finishing in non-combustible building class requirement buildings.

Fire Resistance (USA): Ipe was tested by the National Fire Protection Agency (ASTM-E84). Ipewood decking received the highest classification for Flame Spread: Up to Class A, Uniform Building Code, Class 1.

Termite Resistance: U.S. Naval ResearchLaboratory-Highest Rating

Slip Resistance: Our Ipe decking exceeds the Americans with Disabilities Act requirements for Static Coefficient of friction in a wet environment. Ipe wood decking has also met all ASTM-C1028-89 test requirements.

Strength: Three times stronger than Cedar, our inventory of Ipe decking exceeds all existing code requirements for exterior constructions and has been ASTM-D143 tested. An Ipe deck will be able to structurally handle many square feet of snow!

Durability: If left untreated, Ipe wood decking will last 40+ years. When a deck oil or finish is applied to all four sides prior to installation, an Ipe deck can last up to 100 years.

Ipe decking maintenance tips

Ipe deck boards can be oiled periodically to maintain and enhance its natural colour and beauty or could let it age to a beautiful silver-grey patina colour. This very dense wood requires no sealers or treatments for durability.

Because of its hardness and strength, Ipe decking is one of the easiest wood decking materials to maintain. Due to the manufacturing process and shipping methods, the ipe deck boards may arrive with a somewhat “dirty” appearance. Water stains, scratches or marks from sticker or breather strips may be visible. Simply install the decking as received, once installed, generally, you can use an orbital 5″ electric palm sander with #80 grit sanding paper to sand the visible imperfections, and lightly sand the rest of the deck. Then blow or sweep the dust away. 

No Maintenance let your Ipe deck naturally age

You can leave your new Ipe decking with its original natural colour. Within a few months, the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) will transform it to a beautiful silver platina colour which you can leave for as long as you want. If you decide to bring back the natural finish colour, you simply need to pressure wash your deck. We recommend the Saicos Wood Brightener (follow product instructions), followed by a light sanding to smooth the surface – and it’s done! 


To keep and enhance the ipe boards natural colours

You could decide to preserve and enhance the ipe natural colors of your deck, then yes, we recommend a periodic or annual oil maintenance. For better results you can apply maintenance twice a year: once in the spring and once just before fall. This will ensure a faster project and easier preparation, since you don’t let the wood go too grey. The secret is all in the preparation of the deck surfaces, depending the conditions of the deck you must take the appropriate steps to ensure the best results. Normally if you keep an annual maintenance schedule, you would only need a lightly sanding with a small orbital palm sander, using a #80 grit sanding paper (don’t use a higher grid, that could close the wood pores and cause a lesser oil penetration). Then just remove the fine dust, and you’re ready to re-oil. If ever you skipped maintenance for a longer period and the wood has become grey, we recommend a good pressure wash (Saicos Wood Brightener works well). Let it dry for a day or two, then give it a light sanding to smooth and remove any remaining grey spots – and is ready to oil, very simple.


Oil application on ipe,  Stain or varnish pad applicators are very efficient, they spread and wipe as you go on for a faster application. You can also use a brush, apply and remove the excess. Always follow instructions as recommended by the product manufacturer.


Please Note: Always take the necessary measures to be protected from dust or injuries when working with wood (cutting or sanding). Wear protection glasses, gloves and a dust mask. 

Ipe decking Installation Guidelines

Ipe decking storage and acclimation: To maximise outdoor performance in north America (Canada), Ipe decking is air dried (AD) between 15% and 18% average moisture content. Once you receive your Ipe, before the installation, the Ipe deck boards should be acclimated and stabilized to your climate and site conditions. (Few days or more are recommended) Ipe should be kept dry, covered and stored out of direct sunlight until installed.Do not store directly on the ground or concrete. Instead, choose a level, protected area. Place a tarp, plastic sheeting or other moisture barrier on the ground or concrete. Stack the deck boards evenly on bolsters, enabling air to flow from below. If exposed to the elements, cover the sides and top as well.

IPE Decking Maximum Suggested Joist Span is 24″ c/c. when using a 5/4″x 6″

IPE Decking Maximum Suggested Joist Span is 16″ c/c. when using a 1″x 6″

*Confirm all local building codes for applicability. Consult a structural engineer for load bearing or commercial applications.Pressure treated wood, cedar and metal are recommended for joists and any other unseen structural parts of your project. You can protect the top of wood joists with a membrane for a longer longevity of your structure.The use of carbide saw blades and premium drill bits along with, pre-drilling and countersinking before screwing or nailing is recommended due to high density. To avoid pre-drilling and the visual appearance of the nails, we highly recommend the use of a hidden deck fastener system. For Reference: (www.ipeclip.com)

Ipe is so dense that it’s virtually impossible to drive nails or screws without pre-drilling holes to avoid splitting, even when using “self-drilling” screws. If you will not be using a hidden fastener system, you may find it easier to pre-drill all screw holes (to the screw shank diameter) before attaching decking to the joists.

Ipe deck boards fasteners: We don’t recommend the use of common plastic fasteners or side angled screwing.

Ipe deck boards are available with pre-grooved sides, in order to install your deck floor using invisible fasteners as Ipeclips extreme 

Ipe boards Installation – High-quality stainless-steel screws and fasteners are recommended.

Galvanized/coated or steel/iron products generally cause black staining and have a much shorter service life than the Ipe wood. Proper fastener length is typically the wood thickness times a minimum factor of 2.5. For example, use a 2″ long screw with 3/4″ decking. Use two screws to attach decking to each joist.

A minimum gap of 3/32″ between deck boards is recommended to aid in air circulation and drainage. End to end butt joints are installed without a gap. After installation, when the wood is fully seasoned, shrinkage of 1/8″ on 6″ wide boards can be expected. However, in hot or dry climates you may experience additional shrinkage. In these instances, a kiln dried product and appropriate fastener should be considered.

Deck floor boards can be installed either face screwed or with hidden fasteners as Ipeclips extreme 

Screw and Plug alternative method: Pre-drill and counter bore the deck board no more than 1/4″ deep. Drive the screw and lightly tap and glue a 3/8″ diameter plug with marine grade epoxy in each hole; sand flush.

When cutting use an end sealer like Ipé Seal™ to seal the end grain cut. Ipé Seal™ is a wax emulsion sealer proven to increase the structural integrity of hardwood decking. Designed to prevent end checking (drying splits) in freshly sawn logs, lumber, turning blanks, and other exposed wood end and face grain.

Ipe decking handling precautions
Ipe wood contains a naturally occurring alkali, which gives its long-lasting durability. Care should be taken when working with Ipe as the fine yellow dust produced in most operations may cause dermatitis in certain individuals. Be sure to avoid prolonged inhalation of sawdust, wear eye protection and wash up thoroughly after handling.

Ipe Decking Fasteners "Ipeclips"

How to Apply Ipe Seal at an End Grain Cut

Ipe Boards Expand and Retract with Ipeclip

Hardwood Wrench Deck Board Straightening

Adequate ventilation of an ipe deck 

Adequate ventilation of an ipe deck is essential for long-term stability and to minimize cupping.  A proper air ventilation allows air to flow in from outside the deck area, under the joists and up through the gaps between the deck boards. It is important to carefully plan your deck. If somehow there’s a lack of ventilation, you should oil or seal the underneath of your deck before the installation, sealing the underneath. This will prevent humidity to penetrate the wood and avoid cupping.

Decks designs should allow for adequate cross ventilation underneath the deck to ensure stability, prevent cupping and surface checking, it will minimize the natural movement of the wood. We recommend a minimum of 18″ of open air under joists along with open sides for proper cross ventilation. If you install skirting around the perimeter of the deck it is imperative that the skirting does not prevent cross ventilation. Do not allow standing water to collect under the deck. Ensure that the ground is adequately sloped under the deck to eliminate standing water under the structure. Installing a decking above a concrete pad is NOT recommended. Decks should never be installed directly over concrete due to moisture retention. Any wood decking installed over a new or aged concrete pad will cause the deck boards to cup and/or crown.

For a better a stable performance of your ipe deck boards, when lack of ventilation or/and near sources of humidity, to prevent cupping or warping:  ALWAYS SEAL THE UNDERNEATH FACE OF IPE BOARDS! (you can use a wood sealer or oil)

In this illustration, the left deck is inadequately ventilated, while the right deck is well ventilated.

Ipe Decking FAQ


 What is ipe wood decking?

Ipe (Brazilian Walnut).  Pronounced e-pay, also called Brazilian walnut, is a beautiful exotic wood from South America. Ipe wood decking is one of the hardest and most durable timber species in the world. The color ranges from dark brown, olive-brown, reddish browns to caramel with wide variation in grains. It is naturally durable and resistant to rot and decay, making it an excellent choice for exterior applications like Ipe Decking, Ipe Siding, ipe fences, pergolas and other exterior architectural projects. It lasts a long time and has the beauty of an interior hardwood. Ipe is a popular natural alternative to PVC or composite products. It outlasts other popular wood decking species such as treated Pine, Cedar, Redwood and Douglas Fir. 


How long will an ipe wood deck last?

There is nothing better than Ipe wood for decks. Because of its natural structure and extreme qualities, Ipe lumber isn’t susceptible to any of the common wood problems that plague other wood species. Ipe wood decking can last easily over 50 years, you can either maintain it with a simple coat of oil once a year, to keep it colorful or if you prefer the silver patina look, you could let it naturally age, don’t apply anything and just let it weather out.  You can’t go wrong with an Ipe wood decking with a 50 + year and longer lifespan.


What’s the color of ipe wood decking?

Ipe wood decking can vary from batch to batch and board to board. the wood is natural. Ipe color can vary from rich browns with red and amber hues, and ranges from a light or tan brown, to dark olive or nearly dark brown. Ipe wood decking grain is extremely dense and tight. Ipe wood grain can be both wavy and straight. It’s beautiful appearance and color variation made ipe decking one of the best decking material choice.


Do ipe decking requires maintenance?

Ipe decking doesn’t require maintenance, you can let it age. like all wood species, Ipe hardwood decking will in fact turn gray over time if left to weather naturally.  Over time, the surface of the Ipe decking exposed to exterior elements and the sun’s UV, this factors will cause ipe to oxidize to a silver gray Ipe decking ages gracefully to silvery gray patina. This does not hurt the Ipe wood at all and in no way affects the structural integrity of Ipe. If you wish to keep your ipe natural and enhanced colors, a periodical oil treatment is required. Ipe decking oiling will also increase its longevity.


What is the ipe decking price?

Ipe wood is a commodity like all woods, so pricing changes based on availability, quantity, and the market. Ipe wood Canada is direct importer that can provide competitive pricing. So please contact us today. The price of Ipe wood decking is higher than pressure treated pine or cedar, and comparable to some medium-high end composite or pvc decking, but it will last longer than either of those options.


How to install an ipe deck floor, face screw or hidden fasteners?

You can use both, generally the hidden fasteners clips are a better option, so you’ll have a floor surface free of surface holes or plugs.

HIDDEN FASTENER CLIPS as Ipeclips extreme. Designed for exotic hardwoods, the colour of the plastic resin also works to further camouflage & conceal our fasteners between the board gaps for a more sleek, upscale surface. A deck, patio or terrace that is installed with Hidden Deck Fasteners will make your new build safer, longer lasting, more durable, and better look with a flawless, smooth surface finish.