Top 10 Features of Ipe Decking Wood

Ipe lumber is known by many names; to name a few: Ipe Brazil, Amapa, Flor Amarillo, Madera Negra, and Guayacan. Ipe wood typically grows in the marshes, riverbanks, and ridge tops of tropical South Central America. It is also one of the tallest trees in the Amazon region, growing up to an average of 140 feet in height. It is a popular wood for decking and other outdoor and indoor applications and installations because of its ideal natural features: 

  • Color and appearance –Ipe varies in color from reddish brown to a lighter, yellowish olive brown or darker, blackish brown. It often comes with contrasting brown-black stripes, while some species come with powdery yellow deposits. It is difficult to distinguish (physically and visually) from cumaru, which is also a dense South American timber. 
  • Grain and texture – Ipe has fine to medium texture with grains varying from straight to interlocked or irregular. It has moderate natural luster. 
  • Endgrain – its end grain is described as diffuse-porous, with solitary and radial multiples and medium to large pores. 
  • Rot resistance – Ipe is extremely durable. It offers natural insect-resistance and superb weathering characteristics, enabling the wood to last at least 25 years before needing replacement. 
  • Workability – Ipe is a relatively difficult wood to work because of its hardness and density, but it planes quite smoothly, with some tear out on interlocked grains. 
  • Odor – Ipe has a mild scent when being worked. 
  • Toxicity/allergic potential – severe reactions to ipe wood are uncommon, but it may cause some eye, skin, and respiratory irritation in those with sensitivities. 
  • Sustainability – Ipe is not listed as a threatened species, and it matures quite fast, making it a fairly sustainable resource. 
  • Common uses – Common uses for ipe wood include flooring, decking, veneers, exterior lumber, tool handles, and turned objects.