One of the least known but very lovely hardwood is Ipe wood. This is an exotic wood that comes from South America and is used to make fine furniture, for decking and for making beautiful wooden accents. Ipe wood has a number of amazing properties which makes it perfect for almost any wooden project. Ipe wood could be the right wood material for you so let’s take a look at all its amazing qualities.
Ipe wood characteristics
Ipe (pronounced “ee-pay”) is also called Brazilian walnut. This is a beautiful and exotic wood that is native to South America. Ipe wood is hard, strong and is naturally resistant to rot, abrasion, weathering and also to pests.
Ipe wood comes from the Tabebuia Tree a tree that is native to the
American tropics and subtropics found from Mexico and the Caribbean to Argentina. The wood is very tough and this is because of the tropical environment that it lives in. It also has oils that make it a naturally treated wood. This means that it can last a long time in all environments.
Ipe wood is almost twice as dense as most woods and is very tough up to five times harder. It has a medium to a darker brown color similar to mahogany. This lovely color lasts a long time and has the beauty of a fine interior wood. When this wood is allowed to develop a patina, color can be brought back to its original shade using a cleaner and brightener. Ipe wood is also known as an inexpensive alternative to teak lumber.
The Ipe wood heartwood can vary in color from reddish brown to yellowish olive brown or darker blackish brown. You may even find contrasting darker brown/black stripes. You may even see powdery yellow deposits within the wood. This has a fine to medium texture, with the wood grain varying from straight to irregular or even interlocked grains. It comes with a moderate shine.
Ipe wood is very durable and is resistant to pests and insects, however; there are some species of Ipe trees that are susceptible to marine borers. This tree has superb weathering characteristics. This is the wood used on the boardwalk of New York City’s Coney Island. The wood lasted for 25 years before it had to be replaced.
Ipe could be a difficult wood to work because it is extremely hard and dense. It exhibits strong cutting resistance during sawing. Ipe has a blunting effect on cutting edges. This planes smoothly, but the grain, especially interlocked grains, can cause tearouts. Ipe can be difficult to glue therefore there should be ample surface preparation is needed. The natural powdery yellow deposits found on the wood can interfere with polishing or finishing the wood. Ipe wood has a mild scent when cut.
Ipe wood may cause skin, eye and respiratory irritation as well as headaches, asthma-like symptoms, and disturbance of vision if you have wood allergies. Extra precautions like wearing face masks, goggles and working gloves are important when you are working with this hardwood.
Ipe wood is sold as decking or flooring, boards for furniture or general use. This is not listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. However, Ipe grows in areas with very low densities. Mature Ipe trees occur once per 300,000 to 1,000,000 square feet (3 to 10 hectares) of forest area.
Ipe wood is used for decking. It is also used for many other outdoor applications such as making furniture, siding, and fencing. It can guarantee durable outdoor furniture because it can last for a long time outdoors.
Ipe wood can last up to 75 years and will last more than 40years in almost all applications. It can also be used in a variety of ways because it is 4-7 times as long as most pressures treated woods.
They say, if you want to build something to last for a long time, Ipe wood should be your building material. Ipe wood is naturally lovely, strong and will have a beauty and strength that will last for a long time. If you are looking for Ipe wood, buy only from reputable dealers and suppliers.