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Ironwood is Hassle Free for a Lifetime


Ronnie Tanner

What is better than installing decking for a patio or outdoor entertainment area? Not much unless the wood you use for the decking is something that does not have to be constantly maintained once it is installed! Decking made from Ipe wood promises just that.

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A hardwood that originates from parts of Central and South America and parts of Asia, this lumber has many advantages that make it a natural choice for any outdoor project. The wood itself is a dark brown walnut color that puts off a green dust when cut. The texture is a fine to medium grain. The trees grow up to 150 feet in height and can achieve trunk diameters of up to 6 feet. The tree is not an endangered species and grows in a variety of sites, from ridge tops to riverbanks and marsh forests. It is also easily grown in managed forests. Most of this type of tropical hardwood that is imported to the United States originates from forests certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. Managed forests receiving this certification use some of the most respected forestry practices in the world. Use of Ipe wood culled from these forests encourages sustainable forestry practices. This type of forestry offers the best remedy to exploitive deforestation in sensitive rainforest areas.

The wood is has an extremely dense cell structure that gives natural protection to the tree. This density makes this wood actually sink in water it is so tightly grained. While this does make the timber more difficult to work with at the sawmill, for the customer, it means the tree is impervious to rot, insect infestations, mold and fungi. Tests conducted at the United States Naval Research Laboratory found that Ipe wood left in the ground untreated for 15 years still showed no signs of termite attack. The heartwood is extremely resilient and resists attack from insects and remains rot free even when left untreated. The United States Forest Products Laboratory conduct tests which showed no rot or damage to the wood for 40 plus years if untreated and 100 plus years when the wood received only a single coat of deck oil. It was giving the highest rating available from the forest laboratory.

It is also naturally resistant to fire as well. In tests conducted by the Nation Fire Protection Association, when Ipe decking was exposed to flames for 10 minutes it had a flame spread value rating of 0, that is the same as concrete. The wood is slip resistant as well. This is an important safety feature when using the decking around pools, saunas and hot tubs where wet floors are experienced quite frequently. Ipe wood decking exceeds the Americans with Disabilities Act requirements for Static coefficient of friction in a wet environment. This wood is resists splintering which is always a bonus when the environment will encounter bare feet on a regular basis.

The initial cost of the wood is higher than that of cedar or redwood but when the lifespan of the lumber is factored in the cost drops significantly. Most decking will need to be replaced at least several times over the life span of the deck, the cost of which adds up over time. Ipe wood however is an investment that only needs to be made once to be worry free for life.

Ronnie Tanner is a contributing writer at Everlasting Hardwoods. He writes about


and other industry specific topics.

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Ironwood is Hassle Free for a Lifetime