Handling and Storing Ipe
Decking Before Installation

ipe decking 1

Ipe decking is air dried to between 15% and 18% moisture content for optimal outdoor performance. Ipe boards should be stabilized and acclimatized to the climate before installation. Until installed, boards should be stored away from direct sunlight and should be kept dry.Boards should be kept on a level surface, preferably not kept directly on concrete or the ground. A plastic sheet, tarp or other moisture barrier should be used.

Boards should be stacked evenly on bolsters, which allows airflow from underneath. If the boards will be stored outdoors, make sure to cover the top and sides. Sufficient ventilation is very important for keeping cupping to a minimum and for preserving long term stability of the lumber.

Deck planning is crucial for the longevity of the boards and to prevent build-up of humid air under the wood, which will permeate into the boards.Correctly planned airflow channels will allow air to flow from under the deck, between the joists and through the gaps between the boards.

The design of the deck also needs to enable cross ventilation to minimize the chances of cupping and surface checking of the boards. This will reduce the natural tendency of wood to move in use. We suggest at least 18” of open air under the joists and open side for sufficient airflow. If skirting is installed, it must be ensured it does not hinder sufficient cross ventilation. The ground should be sloped sufficiently to prevent water from standing under the deck, which is why installing a deck above a concrete pad is not recommended. Concrete raises the risk of water retention, and boards will have a tendency to cup and crown.

INSTALLATION GUIDELINES

Ensure your building complies with all local building codes and consult with a structural engineer for load-bearing and commercial applications.

For joists and concealed structural parts, cedar, metal or pressure-treated wood may be preferred. Joist heads can be protected by a membrane to make the structure last longer.

Ipe decking gets its long-lasting durability from a natural alkali. Take care while working with Ipe as the fine yellow dust that is produce during moist operations can cause dermatitis. Prolonged inhalation of sawdust also should be avoided. Make sure to wear eye protection and wash up properly after handling the wood. Due to the high density of the wood, pre-drilling and countersinking is suggested between screwing and nailing. Carbide saw blades and quality drill bits are also recommended.

Ipe Decking 2
Ipe Decking 3

MAKE SURE YOU USE HIGH QUALITY STAINLESS STEEL SCREWS

Steel, iron, galvanized and coated products can cause black staining and generally have a shorter life than Ipe wood itself. Proper fastener length is usually the thickness of the wood multiplied by a minimum factor of 2.5. Also use two screws per joist to attach the decking.

A minimum 3/32” gap between Ipe decking boards is recommended to ensure adequate airflow and drainage. End to end butt joints will be installed without gap, but once the wood us seasoned a 1/8” shrinking on 6” boards is expected. In hot and dry climates, expect additional shrinkage. If that’s the case, kiln dried lumber and appropriate fastener must be considered.

Alternative screw and plug: Pre-drill and counter bore decking board up to 1/4″; drive in the screw and lightly tap and glue a 3/8” diameter plug in every hole with marine grade epoxy. Sand for a flush finish.

Finishing

Decking boards may arrive “looking dirty” due to the manufacturing process and shipping. Marks from breather strips may show, there may even be water stains. Install the decking boards as they are receive and then clean the surface with a power wash and sand once installed. The marks will normally blend into the surface and disappear over the next few months.

Ipe decking can be oiled to maintain its natural color or be left alone to weather to a beautiful sliver patina. The high density of the wood means it doesn’t require any treatment to be durable.

*We believe this information should be helpful and hope it is accurate. However, Tropical Forest Products does not assume any liability for the information provided. Installers are solely responsible for safe installation. Follow manufacturers’ recommendations and ensure designs are validated by a structural engineer.

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