Firstly, let’s get the pronunciation out of the way. Ipé is pronounced “eee-pay”. Good to know, since ipé is a fantastic deck building material. Ipé decking is not, however, for all decks and all clients. Those who like it, love it. MG Construction & Decks is a master Ipé installer, so we’re proud to offer this option.
Ipé is a natural wood. It comes from the Handroanthus (genus) of some 30 species of flowering trees. The trees are abundant from Central America on down as far as northern Argentina. Handroanthus trees are known locally as “ipé”.
HARD AND HEAVY
Any description of ipé lumber has to begin with the words “hard” and “heavy”. This is extremely dense wood. It is, in fact, one of the hardest woods there is. It’s especially durable under outdoor conditions and very, very strong. Those characteristics alone make it attractive to builders of outdoor structures, like decks. The City of New York in 1960 used ipé decking to build the world-famous Coney Island boardwalk This deck was 10 miles long.
The City eventually decided to renovate the Boardwalk in 1994. Twenty-five years under the harsh summer sun, howling ocean storms, and bitter winter cold. With millions of pedestrians every year. Significantly, they replaced the old ipé with new ipé. The City discarded the old ipé wood. Thereafter, homeowners, deck builders, and artists immediately scooped it from the dumpsters. It continues to serve in new decks, benches, floors, and planters all over the country. It’s that durable.
In addition, Ipé is also very resistant to insects and rot. A famous demonstration of this quality involved burying a sample of ipé underground for 15 years. When at last it was dug up, it was rot-free and insect-proof.
EASY ON THE EYES
Ipé wood is beautiful. It comes in shades from olive through light brown to nearly black. Its grain is tight, with very few knots. Owners can maintain the original color in our SoCal climate with a minimum of oiling. Or, let it age through to graying, an antique rustic look some people love. Moreover, an ipé deck keeps its original form because the wood doesn’t warp.
As a bonus, ipé decking is also easy on the feet. It doesn’t retain heat. As a result, an ipé deck stays comfortable even under the hot August sun. Bare feet? Sure!
What ipé decking is not, though, is cheap. After all, you knew there had to be a catch, right? The initial materials costs are high relative to redwoods and composites. Be that as it may, in the long run – and ipé’s run can be very long, indeed – the low maintenance and great durability recoup a lot of that.
IPÉ DECK BUILDERS
Bring your dream to our experienced deck builders. We’ll give it form with our 3D modeling software. If you decide that ipé wood is the right material for you, we’ll build it. You’ll love it.