A Deck Builder’s Review of IPE Wood for Decks and Patios

Ironwood deck

A new IPE wood deck we just completed.

I have been building decks and patios for over ten years now, and so I’ve worked with just about every type of wood that grows on this green earth. Each species of wood has its own characteristics, and you’ll even find differences from batch to batch depending on where the wood was harvested, the age of the tree, and whether or not the wood was treated with any chemicals.

Without a doubt, one of the hardest, most durable woods to build with is IPE, also known as Ironwood. The name fits this wood perfectly. Ironwood is one of the few woods that is so hard that it has earned a Class A fire rating, which is the same rating that both concrete and steel enjoy.

Ironwood is a species of Tabebuia that is most commonly found in the forests of Brazil and throughout Central America. These trees are big growers and can reach up to 150 feet high!

As you can imagine, this tough tree is challenging to cut down and shape for the building industry, but all the work is worth it. IPE is a great wood for decks, patios, and outdoor furniture. The wood is not only extremely durable, it also has a natural resistance to wet conditions and termites. Californians know that termites can be a big problem out here. Our mild temperatures and warm winters make our state pretty inviting for both drywood and subterranean termites.

Since IPE is difficult to cut and must be shipped from Central and South America, it is not the cheapest wood on the market, but I think it is a great choice for homeowners who want a sturdy deck that will last a long time. IPE boards can range from a pleasing olive brown all the way to a deep, rustic brown that looks almost black. You can also choose to stain the wood to bring out the highlights that you prefer.

Fastening IPE to the frame work can be challenging also, which is why I often suggest using hidden fasteners to give the deck the best appearance.  Running the deck boards out from the house gives a look of the interior flooring flowing out to the deck in a continuous pattern.

At Best-Rate Repair, we are currently using IPE to build a new deck for a client. The picture above shows this project in progress. Please give us a call if you are interested in learning more about IPE or Ironwood for your San Diego deck or patio.

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