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One of the least known but very lovely hardwoods is Ipe (pronounced as “ee-pay”) wood. This is an exotic wood that comes from South America. Ipe wood has several amazing properties, which makes it unique from any existing wood type worldwide. Thus, it is perfect for almost any wood project. Ipe wood could be the right wood type for you so let’s look at all its amazing properties.
Properties of Ipe Wood
Generally, Ipe wood is hard, strong, and naturally resistant to rot, abrasion, weathering, and pests. Let’s explore more of these properties of Ipe wood through the following points below.
Ipe wood has a medium to a darker brown color similar to mahogany. This lovely color lasts a long time and has the beauty of fine interior wood. When this wood develops a patina, the color can be returned 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.
Read: Sapwood vs. Heartwood
Ipe could be a difficult wood to work on 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 tear outs.
Ipe can be difficult to glue. Therefore, there should be ample surface preparation. The natural powdery yellow deposits on the wood can interfere with polishing or finishing the wood.
Durability and Resistance
Ipe wood is very durable and resistant to pests and insects. However, some species of Ipe trees are susceptible to marine borers. Furthermore, Ipe has a fire rating that is equal to that of steel and concrete. It is exceptionally dense, making it less flammable than other types of wood.
However, contractors may need help to saw and nail it because of its density. Thus, they use pre-drilling holes and steel screws. Ipe wood eats up blades, which increases labor costs.
Expect a mild scent when working on Ipe wood, especially when it is being cut. Meanwhile, wearing face masks, goggles, and work gloves are recommended when working with this hardwood. It is because Ipe wood may cause potential health issues like skin, eye, and respiratory irritation, headaches, asthma-like symptoms, and disturbance of vision.
Uses of Ipe Woods
Ipe wood is used for decking. It is also used for 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 more than 40 years in almost all applications. It can also be used in various ways because it is 4-7 times as long as most pressures treated woods.
More about Ipe Wood
Ipe is also called Brazilian Walnut. This is a beautiful and exotic wood that is native to South America. Ipe wood comes from the Tabebuia Tree, a tree native to the American tropics and subtropics and 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. Thus, it has been used on New York City’s Coney Island boardwalk. The wood lasted for 25 years before it had to be replaced.
It also has oils that make it a naturally treated wood. This means that it can last a long time in all environments.
Other Hardwood Types
- Balsa Wood– One of the lightest and softest timbers that you can find in the market is Balsa.
- Koa Wood– Woodworkers value Koa’s interlocking grain because it creates more bending strength and stiffness than Walnut.
- Poplar Wood– Poplar wood may not be as durable as other hardwoods, but it may be useful and affordable with the right techniques and treatment.
- Rubber Wood– Rubberwood is a wood used in the furniture industry. Rubber wood, also called Parawood in Thailand, is named after the timber with the scientific name Hevea brasiliensis.
- Sapele Wood– Sapele wood has many characteristics that resemble mahogany, especially the color of its heartwood.
- Cherry Wood– No one can deny the amazing qualities of cherry wood, which could be the reason why wood enthusiasts cherish it the most.
- Mahogany Wood– The possible extinction of Mahogany wood cannot clear the fact that it is one of the most valuable wood types existing.
- Teak Wood– There are countless reasons why teak wood is prized for its value.
The search is over after finding Ipe wood as one of the strongest woods. If you want to build something that lasts for years, this wood is one of your options to consider. Ipe wood is naturally lovely and strong and will have beauty and strength. Let’s see how Ipe wood takes part as you go along with your journey in the exploration of wood types.