Working With Ipe? Here Are The 6 Best Tips You Can’t-Miss
Royal Chundu Zambezi Island Lodge
You have recently started a new building project and decided to use Ipe. Well, you couldn’t have made a better decision. Ipe is the best hardwood in the world. Its characteristics and properties make it the most extraordinary material for long-lasting constructions that won’t get damaged by any external factors. In addition, Ipe will stay in top condition with minimal maintenance. However, there are some important recommendations to keep in mind when working with Ipe.
Many builders know Ipe as the ideal choice for decks due to its hardness, strength, and durability. This exotic wood has many advantages, such as no rotting, splintering, or mold resistance.
It has quickly become one of the most sought-after hardwoods in California because of its longevity and the fact that it is chemical-free and suitable for children and pets. Not to mention its characteristic of not overheating on its surface when exposed to intense sunlight, which is a perfect quality for places with long summers.
Since Ipe is so dense and hard, it requires special hardware and tools when installed. For example, predrill holes are essential before installation due to its density. Also, it is important to use 305 or higher-grade stainless-steel screws when installing a deck outdoors to withstand the elements and not rust.
Now it is time to be more specific. Here are the best recommendations you can’t miss when working with Ipe:
1. Acclimatize Your Ipe Before Installation
Your Ipe needs to be primed to your local weather before you use it in constructing your deck. This acclimatizing should be done at least seven days before installation begins.
During this procedure, ensure that the wood is not covered. Trapped moisture will cause damage to the wood. Make sure it doesn’t stay on the floor while acclimatizing.
2. Choose The Right Decking Accessories When Working With Ipe
The deck boards should be fastened to the joist with stainless steel clips and screws at a 45-degree angle. Be sure to use a 305-grade stainless steel fastener, as this will reduce the risk of wood rot.
Suppose you want to achieve an elegant and consistent look. In that case, you can use the hidden deck fasteners we have from DeckWise, a brand from which we are authorized distributors.
The DeckWise® brand of stainless decking screws is a great way to ensure hardwood and composite deck boards stick tight to the joist. As part of the DeckWise® line of deck-building products, color-match screws give builders and DIY homeowners a reliable way to fasten any decking brand.
If you prefer to use hidden deck fasteners, the Ipe boards must be grooved, or a hole has to be made using a biscuit joiner. Even though this technique gives a seamless look, it is more prone to problems down the road in the California climate; thus, it is not recommended for most projects.
Either way, it is crucial to predrill the boards to make sure you avoid cracking the wood. Pick a screw size and predrill your holes. If you do, the boards can stay intact due to their density and eventually become loose
3. Ipe Plugs Can Be An Excellent Choice
If you have screwed all the boards on your deck, meaning you have drilled straight through the board from the top, and still want to get the uniform look of the clips, you can always use Ipe plugs. Get a consistent look by covering the head of the screws with our DeckWise Ipe plugs. We also have some color options.
Our hardwood plugs are made from natural wood. These plugs are perfect for starter boards, end boards, and stairs when using a hidden fastener system such as DeckWise® Hidden Deck Fasteners. Plugs install easily in 3/8″ predrilled and countersink holes with Gorilla Glue®. All protruding plug material can be hand sawed or sanded off for a smooth, flush finish.
To use an Ipe plug, drive the screw into the board, put a bit of wood glue over the screw and place an Ipe plug in the hole. Next, with a mallet, tap the Ipe plugs as far as possible into the deck. Finally, sand the board and oil it. This will allow the Ipe plug to blend into the board.
We have a master plug kit with everything you need in just one set. Click here for more information.
4. Gap Spacing Is Important When Installing An Ipe Deck
The gap spacing in a deck refers to the small edge-to-edge division that needs to be left between the boards. Although this is a small space, its importance is crucial for keeping the deck’s integrity in optimal condition. The division between boards allows them to adapt to changes in the material, so you don’t have to replace broken pieces or reinstall new ones.
And for that, we recommend our Deck Board Gap Spacers by DeckWise. Their versatile design allows builders to use these board spacers in any position between boards. These spacers work flawlessly with the hardwood wrench or any other board straightening tool. Here are two useful tips to consider:
- Put the deck spacers between the limit of the deck boards.
- Use a straightening tool to reduce the gap between the boards. This will prevent the leg fasteners from being crushed over time.
The uniquely engineered blade design and style inhibit dents and the marring of hardwood, thermally modified woods, and composite decking material. Depending on the span of any deck boards, place two or more spacers every 24 inches between them. Going along any board is a snap, thanks to the spacer’s distinctive handle. Another aspect to consider is the fasteners you choose for the installation. The kind of fasteners can also affect the size of the gap between the boards.
But what makes gap spacing so important? Here are the reasons:
- It allows the building material to expand and contract
- It lets the deck breathe
- It allows for proper water drainage
- Make the boards easy to clean
In addition, proper spacing provides good airflow underneath the wood. The best option is to leave 18″ of free air under the joists. This will add stability, eliminate cupping and minimize the natural movement of the Ipe wood.
5. Proper Pitch For An Ipe Deck
To avoid water problems, it is crucial to have the proper slope and leave any substructure away from any structure or house to prevent flooding during rainstorms. For optimal results, a minimum of ¼ inch slope for every 10 feet of decking is recommended for standard Ipe lumber.
This is general advice. Never build an Ipe deck on concrete. This material causes retention and will make the boards begin to cup and crown.
6. Get Official Permits When Installing With Ipe Or Any Other Hardwood
Before beginning installation, contact your local building code officials and find out what permits and regulations you need to obtain when installing hardwood decking.
As required by law, following the process is your responsibility as a resident. Still, If you are working with a contractor, this is usually something they will handle on your behalf.
To sum up, building a new deck is an investment, so the longer you can enjoy it, the better. Ipe gives you that guarantee. Add to that our experts’ recommendations, and the results will be the best.
You can buy the best quality Ipe or tropical hardwood in any of our warehouses in Florida (Miami & Hollywood). By getting the hardwood from us, you buy directly from the mill. You are guaranteed the best quality material at the best prices.
Please get in touch with us. We will be happy to help you in every step of your project, choosing the best lumber in the proper dimensions and with the best installation hardware.