When deciding on what product to choose for decking around swimming pools, hot tubs and saunas, Ipe decking is a great choice. The advantages of this tropical hardwood are many and for those who only want to make this investment once, Ipe wood is one of the best options out there.
As a wood product subjected to outdoor elements and near constant exposure to water, Ipe (pronounced EE-pay) is one of the most rot resistant woods. It is resistant to mold and insect infestation as well. In tests conducted by the United States Naval Research Laboratory, Ipe wood that had been left in the ground for 15 years was still free from termites and was given the highest rating possible. Even untreated Ipe can be expected to last 40 plus years. With a deck oil applied to the surface of the wood, Ipe decking will last 100 plus years. Now that’s a great return on an investment.
For decking in slippery areas, Ipe also soars above the competition. It has been ASTM-D143 tested and Ipe wood exceeds the American with Disabilities Act requirements for Static Coefficient of friction in a wet environment. This is an important consideration when thinking about what decking to use around swimming pools and hot tubs. Children naturally have a tendency to want to run around pools and with decking made from Ipe, it’s one more aid in preventing accidents. Another plus that this exotic hardwood provides is no splintering, another important advantage around swimming pools and hot tubs where most people will be barefooted.
Although Ipe is found predominantly in South America, Ipe hardwood is also a responsible environmental choice. Because Ipe can be grown with relative ease in managed forests, it is a renewable resource and encourages responsible forestry practices. This ease of harvest from managed forests means less impact on tropical rainforests. This exotic hardwood has many advantages over Teak and Mahogany and is available at a fraction of the cost.
These trees can grow up to 150 feet in height and can have a trunk diameter of 6 feet. Average height at harvest in a managed forest is 100 feet and a trunk diameter of 2 to 3 feet. This is an incredibly dense wood, which is what makes it such a durable choice for decking. It is so dense; the wood actually sinks in water.
Up until recently, Ipe was impractical due to this density. The wood was very difficult to machine and would quickly blunt even the sharpest blades. Recent advances in technology have made it much easier to work with and carbide blades are now used to avoid the problem with easily blunted blades. Fastener holes must be predrilled, as the wood is nearly impervious to hammers and nails. It does, however rout very nicely.
When the famous boardwalk in Atlantic City required replacing, it was Ipe wood decking that was chosen. The Treasure Island resort in Las Vegas also chose Ipe as the wood of choice for their boardwalk as well. If you are planning an outdoor project, consider using Ipe for a deck that will last a lifetime.