Ipe Decking Installation Tips
Ipe Decking installation is a simple and easy task to complete when you know what type of wood Ipe really is. Ipe Wood is a very dense hardwood. This is why Ipe lasts so long. In order to get good results from your Ipe Decking installation project, using higher quality specialized tools and equipment is recommended. This page will give you handling and building suggestions that will help you achieve excellent results when building your Ipe deck.
Prior to Your Ipe Decking Installation
Always check with your local building department to make sure you are building to code. Speak with an architect or structural engineer if permitting is required. Make sure to follow any and all building codes that apply in your area, before performing your Ipe Decking Installation. It is easier to apply for a permit before starting your project rather than face code violations and fines. Since there are many variables that can be encountered on an installation project, it is your responsibility to test the material for suitability for your project prior to constructing.
Types of Ipe Wood Decking
Standard & Pregrooved Decking:
Our standard and pre-grooved decking are both great choices for many outdoor deck and dock applications.
Tongue & Groove Porch Decking:
Tongue & Groove Porch Decking is for use under covered porches & covered patios only. Installing tongue and groove on a deck without a roof covering the deck surface will cause problems such as allowing excessive water to collect and cause the material to cup, swell, and buckle.
Kiln Dried or Air Dried Ipe Wood
Ipe decking is available in either air dried or kiln dried lumber. Air dried lumber is intended for outdoor applications such as decks, benches, docks, play yards, or other outdoor furniture. Kiln dried lumber is best suited for indoor applications like flooring or wall paneling.
Handling Ipe Decking
- Ipe decking should be allowed to sit for a few days prior to installation in order to get acclimated to your local temperature and humidity levels. Storing for a total of 7 days prior to installation is recommended.
- DO NOT store of the Ipe decking directly on the ground, or directly on top of a concrete surface.
- DO NOT store the material for more than 30 days prior to use, unless your storage area has optimal conditions.
- It is suggested that the material be stored 12″ off of the ground during the acclimation process. Using blocks of wood is a good solution when storing.
- DO NOT use tarp to cover Ipe when storing. This traps moisture and compromises the woods stability.
- Make sure there is good ventilation around stored bundle to ensure proper acclimation occurs.
- Use stickers or shims to help ventilate layers of wood.
- DO NOT store your Ipe material in a garage or enclosed area.
- Keep material dry when storing.
Cutting & Drilling Ipe Decking
Due to the very hard nature of Ipe Wood, premium carbide tipped saw blades are recommended for cutting. Brad point drill bits or fostner bits provide cleaner holes than standard HSS twist bits.
Our Ipe decking is shipped with the endgrain sealed with a clear wax to prevent any end checking. Fresh cuts should be sealed within 24hrs. We recommend parafin wax. A single quart will cover about 500 square feet. Once applied, it will dry to a clear finish.
There are three typical methods to fasten Ipe decking to other structural members:
- Ipe Clip ® Fastener Method: The Ipe Clip® fastener system uses high strength plastic fastening biscuits that insert into slots cut into the edge of the deck board which then rests on top of a joist. A stainless steel screw (supplied with each clip) is then screwed down into the joist. We recommend the Ipe Clip®fastener system as many other hidden fastener systems install from the bottom side of the deck, requiring screwing into the bottom of the deck board. With the Ipe Clip® fastener system no screws or holes show from the surface. The Ipe Clip® fasteners are fiberglass reinforced so that they are one of the strongest ways to fasten Ipe Decking.
- Face Screw / Plug Method: Countersink 3/8″ holes into face of deck boards. Predrill 1/8″ pilot holes completely through the deck boards. Screw the deck boards down with stainless screws. 3/8″ Ipe plugs are then glued into the holes with waterproof glue (i.e. Gorilla brand glue, Epoxy, etc.) Plugs are then knocked off with a chisel and sanded smooth.
- Finish Screw Method: Stainless steel #8 trim head screws are screwed into the face of the decking. Recommended two per joist. The trim head screw is very small and only slightly noticeable. Our Torx drive screws resist striping much more than the standard square drive.
When beginning your Ipe Decking Installation, we recommend allowing 1/16″ gaps between deck boards for water drainage and wood expansion / contraction. This also allows for proper air circulation. Average shrinkage is approximately 1/16″ on 4″ wide boards and 1/8″ on 6″ wide boards.
Because of Ipe’s natural density and its alkaline characteristics, many oil and water based finishes will not dry properly when applied. Before finishing or treating your Ipe Decking Installation, we recommend testing any product on scrap pieces to determine compatibility. Applying a finish approximately every two years (depending upon your particular atmosphere) will keep the beautiful dark brown color. Should you choose to let your deck weather it will turn a silvery gray similar to how Teak does. We strongly suggest applying a coat of finish soon after the installation, regardless of your desire color. This will ensure the Ipe wood retains its natural oils and stability.
Should you need to glue up your Ipe, we recommend using waterproof glues like Gorilla polyurethane. You may also use epoxy glue. Epoxy can be dyed to match your Ipe deck. Epoxy is strong and waterproof and best suited for gluing posts.
Ensure the deck sub-straight is pitched away from the house or attached structure to allow for proper water drainage and runoff. We recommend a pitch of a 1/4″ for every 10 feet for proper drainage on Standard and Pregrooved decking. For Tongue and Groove decking, a more aggressive pitch is recommended. We highly recommend using a 1/4″ per foot slope. Framing material should be installed with the crown up (humps up) to aid in water draining off the surface material. Framing lumber can crown 1/8″ or more, and may lead to standing water. Any standing puddle of water can cause surface decking to cup. Installing hardwood decking above a concrete pad is NOT recommended. Hardwood decking should never be installed directly over concrete due to moisture retention. Any hardwood decking installed over a new or aged concrete pad will cause the deck boards to cup and/or crown.