Is Ipe Really Worth the Cost?

Is Ipe Really Worth the Cost?

Among hardwoods, ipe is considered the most prestigious and valued wood.  It stands out for its strength, durability, and density. These properties make it rot resistant, mildew resistant, scratch resistant, and the density is the reason it has a class-A fire rating.  Even with these features, Ipe is sometimes viewed as an overly expensive wood choice. How true is this? Is Ipe worth the cost? To answer the questions, its best to see what features are unique to Ipe wood and makes it a great choice for outdoor construction. 

  • Class-A fire resistance: Ipe wood has a fire resistance that is similar to concrete.  Normally one thinks of wood as something that burns easily, but not ipe. An ipe deck or pergola is virtually a fireproof choice.  In fact very few other wood species can claim such a high fire rating. 
  • Insect resistance: the natural density of Ipe and the presence of tannic acid in the wood makes it outstandingly resistant to pest attacks. You don’t have to worry about damages to your wood structure due to fungus, rot or termites. Most woods would require a chemical treatment to be as resistant resistant to pests and decay, however, this is a natural feature for the wood, which is great for the environment and the bare feet that walk on the deck. 
  • Longevity: ipe can last for more than 70 years even with little maintenance, making it one of the longest lasting woods. Structures, decks, pergolas, boardwalks built with Ipe in the 1930s and 50s are still intact today.  The boardwalk at Coney Island in NY, the South Point Park Pier in Miami, Jersey Shore boardwalk, and the list goes on. 
  • Reduced risk of accidents: some woods or composite decks are so smooth they can be slippery especially in wet seasons. Ipe has a medium to smooth texture that allows easy movement of the feet with little to no risk of accident from slipping.
  • Replacement is easy: Repairs can become problematic when there is a lack of original decking supplies. This is not the case with Ipe because it is natural lumber and does not depend on changes in trends. Wood trends are prone to changes, but high-quality hardwood decking (like the Brazilian Walnut variety) has withstood the test of time
  • Weather resistant: Ipe excellently withstands extreme weather conditions, whether that be sunshine, rain, or snow.  While other woods may absorb moisture and begin to rot, Ipe does not rot due to its rot-resistant nature. 
  • Ipe is a sign of luxury: It is regarded as an exotic wood and is priced likewise. Properly maintained Ipe lumber has a brownish coloration and a natural lustre that makes it blend easily with the environment. Using Ipe makes any structure stand in a class of its own.

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Using Ipe for your wood structure has excellent benefits. Its outstanding hardness, durability, longevity and intrinsic resistance to elements and fires constitute its popularity. It may not be as budget-friendly upfront, but in the long-run, Ipe stands the test of time.  So if you are having doubts, think of ipe as a long term investment.  Upfront, Ipe may seem like an expensive choice when compared to other wood types. However, even with little maintenance, Ipe can hold for a lifetime. 

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