3 Quick Tips when Working with Ipe

working with ipe

3 Quick Tips when Working with Ipe

Ipe is an incredible wood, stronger than any other hardwood, with wonderful water resistance, impermeable to insects and mold, a fire rating as high as concrete, and the list goes on. This tropical hardwood is not only really durable; it is also incredibly beautiful.  Since it is less commonly used than pressure treated wood, some carpenters or at home installers have a difficult time installing ipe wood. With a few tips and tricks any obstacle of working with this exotic wood can be easily overcome. 

1) Drill bits will get worn more quickly when working with ipe.  Ipe is a hardwood, so it is very dense – in fact, it sinks in water.  So you can imagine that drilling into a board of ipe is quite different than drilling into a board of pressure treated wood. It is important to have extra drill bits on hand. Also, pre-drilling is highly recommended when installing ipe wood. DeckWise® has a drill and drill bits that are specifically made for tropical hardwoods.  The Drill & Drive™ deck building tool can be used both by professional deck installers or by homeowners for DIY projects as well. The drill and drive is said to work about three times faster than a regular drill.

2.)  Ipe can be installed using both hidden fasteners or by face screwing.  The difference is purely cosmetic although both systems have their advantages and their disadvantages.  For most home owners doing their own deck, face screwing will be easier.  It is a fast and secure way to install an ipe deck.  It does leave exposed screw holes, so it is very important to align all the screws so that the line that is formed is aesthetically pleasing.  If you find that leaving the screws visible is unattractive, deck plugs can be used.


DeckWise® makes hardwood plugs [
Hyperlink to Master Plug Kits] that are easily added into the holes left by screws.  Installation is very easy.  Once the screw is in the ipe board, a small amount of Gorilla Glue  squeezed into the hole.  Then a small ipe plug (3/8”) is hammered in.  Once all the plugs are in, they are sanded down so they are completely even with the deck board and blend into the board, becoming virtually seamless.

3).  Ipe will fade from its rich chocolate brown color to a silver patina if it is not treated with a UV protective sealer. It is important to apply the oil or sealer as soon as the deck has been installed, otherwise some parts of the wood will begin to fade and the deck will look splotchy.  It is also important to have a completely dry ipe deck before any oil or sealer is applied.  Ipe Oil is a popular and sought after product made by DeckWise®.  It is specifically formulated for hardwoods such as ipe, cumaru, and tigerwood.  The low 250 VOC formula protects the deck for six months to a year depending on the sun exposure and the proximity to salt water.  The 250 VOC Ipe Oil comes in a 1 gallon can which will cover 250 to 300 square feet of smooth wood.

If you have any questions about installing Ipe or pricing for Ipe or hardware, contact us.