Ipe Climbs Above the Rest

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I was asked the other day ‘What’s so great about Ipe? What can you build with it?’ My response ‘Anything you need to get built!’  Ipe is one of the best building materials on the market today. You can build decks, boardwalks, stairs, railings, benches and more. It’s a proven performer in all harsh conditions and climates. Not to mention, it is naturally beautiful and insect free.

If you’re building a deck with Ipe, it makes sense to build your stairs with Ipe as well.  Adding Ipe stairs to any decking project turns it into a homeowners dream. Ipe is already 5x stronger than Redwood, so it will be able to withstand any weight. A characteristic Ipe has that many other decking materials don’t, is it’s slip resistant. You won’t have to worry about your great aunt slipping down your stairs when she comes over.screenTeam_deckingLIf your deck doesn’t need stairs but you would like an elevated section, consider adding three stairs rather than just two. Two steps keep the main function of a deck while the third adds enough room for an overflow seating section.  Everyone will be able to sit comfortably at your parties and there will be no awkward standing and eating.

If you already have your deck and are beginning to clean it for the summer months, remember to inspect your stairs as well. Look for rotting and decaying around the fasteners. If there is any, DO NOT step on your stairs and call your Ipe supplier immediately. Also, if your stairs are open in the back, make sure the distance between each stair is not exceeding 4 inches. It’s possible in the other seasons for wood to shift slightly. If your wood has shifted slightly, make sure you fix it to ensure no future accidents.

For any more questions about Ipe stairs, check out www.Ipedepot.com for a free quote today. Happy Decking!

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Turn an Ugly Deckling Into a Silver Fox

Haven’t you heard? The new and tan look is out and weathered and gray are in. And we’re not talking about the fashion world. This summer, weathered looking decks have emerged as the latest and greatest trend. Don’t worry if you just bought a brand new deck, we can help you take it from looking sleek and refined in no time at all.

Weathered decks are like the silver foxes of the decking community. They look good styled next to any new or old home. You can dress them up with any deck furniture and you’re ready for cocktail hour.

Turning an ugly deckling into a silver fox.

Giving your deck a full makeover isn’t as hard as you think.

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All you need are a couple of beauty products, stain or sealers to be exact, and time. There are many products on the market that help with aiding a weathered deck.

-Clear Water Repellant

  • This product doesn’t add any color to your existing deck and grain patterns can be seen through the finish. The sealer’s lack of UV protection helps the UV radiation fade your wood, giving you a nice, natural gray look. Clear water repellants can last from 6 months to 2 years, depending on surface texture and exposure to the sun.ipe-dock2

-Bleaching or Weathered Stain Oils

  • Using bleaching or weathered stained oil helps keep your deck protected longer than clear water repellant. Weathered stained oils are basically clear water repellant finisher with some gray pigments. This type of stain only lasts 2-3 years so be sure to continue applying clear water repellant over the bleaching oil for longer effect.

-Solid Colored Stains

  • Solid colored stains use an opaque finish. You’re not able to see the wood grain or natural color but surface texture is still intact. We advise re-staining your deck every 2-3 years after using this opaque finish.

-Semi-transparent Penetrating Stains

  • We recommend oil based semi-transparent penetrating stains because they filter into the wood surface deeper than most wood-based products. Peeling or blistering is less likely to happen with this stain because of it’s non-film forming. Decks with this type of stain gradually wear off and last up to 5 years.

Check out www.ipedepot.com to get a free quote. Happy decking!

Turn the Light Back on in Your Life

dsc_3024highpoint-newsletterCROPThe neighborhood party is just beginning, but night is slowly approaching. You’ve lit the candles and tiki torches, yet still can’t see your neighbor sitting five feet away from you. If only there was a better way to see and enjoy your deck at night.

LED lights help illuminate any deck, adding warmth to each backyard setting.  Energy saving LED lighting helps you and your guests celebrate into the night without having to worry about your energy bill. Most LED lighting are all-weather compatible so you can keep using your deck even in harsh climates. Lighting is also a care free maintenance because you won’t have to worry about the batteries since they are energy saving. You can also choose to light up your stairs and railings, creating a safer deck for you and your family.  You can put the lighting practically anywhere. Get creative and have some fun with it.  It’s your deck anyway.

For more information about our lighting options, check out www.ipedepot.com. Happy Decking!

Rainscreen: The Superhero of Siding

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Ipe rainscreen siding is an excellent addition to any home. It does keep away mold and mildew that could wreak havoc on your home while creating a healthier environment, both inside and outside the building. By separating the home from the siding, it allows moisture to escape through the space in the wall cavity. The siding sits on furring strips or battens that help create an air space. Mesh based products are stapled to sheathing to create the vent space. The end product will allow the drainage planes to vent to the outside, locking out any moisture or any other foreign objects.rainscreen2

Some advantages of using Ipe rainscreen siding are:

  • Lowers energy costs
  • Reduces indoor air pollution
  • Adds natural beauty to any home
  • Keeps insects from crawling into your home
  • Reduces mold and mildew on your home

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Moisture will have a hard time causing problems thanks to Ipe wood, especially since it is an extremely dense hardwood. This adds even more protection to your home against the cunning mold and mildew duo.

For more information on Ipe rainscreen siding check out www.ipedepot.com for a free quote. Happy Siding!

What is the Janka Hardness Test?

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    Wondering what the best type of hardwood is for your indoor / outdoor floor, or deck?  First you should consider where the product is going.  If it’s going into a kids playroom or room that is often used you’ll want hardwood that is in actually hard.  To calculate the hardness of a piece of a hardwood, the Janka hardness test is used.  This industry standard test’s purpose is to measure the resistance of wood to denting and extensive wear.  It works by measuring the force required to embed a .444 inch steel ball into the wood to half the ball’s diameter.  How much force the ball needs to be embedded into your hardwood will show you if your hardwood is easily dented.

The hardness of the wood also varies on the direction of the wood grain.  Testing on the surface of a plank perpendicular to the grain is known as side hardness.  Testing on the cut surface of a stump is known as end hardness.  The most common reason for testing is to determine whether the species of hardwood you have is a suitable use of flooring for your home.

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Above is the list showing the hardness of various hardwoods.  If you’re redoing your hardwood floors or renovating a deck remember to plan accordingly.  If you have small children that enjoy dropping anything and everything they get their hands on then you’re going to want a harder type of flooring.  The softer the wood, the more it will wear down while the harder the wood the longer it takes to wear down.

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        As you might expect, Ipe is exceptionally strong. It outranks Teak, Oak, and many other hardwoods. It’s also 8 times harder than Redwood, a fact that surprises many except those who own a deck or floor made of Ipe.

Get your free Ipe decking quote directly from the mill. Contact IpeDepot.com today.

The Science Behind the Expansion & Contraction of Wood

Why Wood Moves

Like many building materials, wood expands and shrinks. This is due to how much moisture is in the air.  If there’s high humidity the cells within the wood will expand.  If there is low humidity, the cells will shrink. Thankfully there is a way of predicting how much the wood will shrink or expand.  The equilibrium moisture content (EMC) is basically the length of time it takes for your wood to accommodate to its new environment.   It can tell you whether your wood is going to expand or shrink.  The EMC helps us understand the response wood has to relative humidity (RH).  For example a change in Moisture content (MC) will cause a 12 inch wide maple board to expand or contact by at least ¼ inch.  The graph below gives examples of MC versus RH.

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Wood, not only moves, because of its environment but because of many other factors.  Here are six distinct factors as to why wood moves.

  1. Width of Material – The wider the board, the more the movement.
  2. Grain Orientation- Flat and quarter-sawn lumber can make a big difference in telling how much your wood will expand or shrink.  Quarter-sawn shrinks and expands roughly half as much as flat sawn.  Flat sawn shrinks and swells less in thickness while quarter-sawn shrinks and swells less in width.
  3. Moisture content of the wood at delivery – You should know the moisture content of the decking material when you receive it.  This is measured using a moisture meter.  If you do not check your moisture meter upon your woods’ arrival then you will not know if your lumber has already began to move.
  4. Humidity inside and outside the structure.
    1. Homes in the US that lack humidity control, typically experience levels of humidity from 25 – 65% relative humidity.  This will cause a 6% change in the MC of the wood.  This means if you have a 12 inch wide board it will shrink or expand by a ¼ inch.
    2. Exterior humidity is different.  Most of North America experiences humidity levels ranging from 60-70% in the summer and winter.  If your material is delivered at 6-8% MC then it will experience more than a 2% change in size as it gets used to the EMC.
    3. Species affects the amount of movement Most species of flat grain will change 1% for every 4% change in MC.  The movement values for quarter sawn lumber are approximately ½ the flat sawn values.
    4. Applied finish won’t stop size change- It will not stop the size change but it can slow the rate of moisture exchange down.  Finished wood will eventually accumulate to EMC levels.

Environment and wood species are the main reason as to why wood moves.  When buying your lumber make sure to check your supplier’s environment and to calculate how much your wood will shift in size.  If you want to play it safe, it’s best to buy your wood at least 3-4 days prior to starting your project, so you can let it get acclimated.

Get your free Ipe decking quote directly from the mill. Contact IpeDepot.com today.

Ipe Deck Fastening Methods – Build a Better Ipe Deck

pregrooved decking with ipe clip Ipe decks are great additions to any homes.  Ipe is one of the strongest woods in the world and known to withstand the elements better than any other decking material.  Ipe decks aren’t just strong because of how the lumber is, but because of the ways they are fastened together.

There are three different types of deck fastening for Ipe decking; the hidden fastening method, the face screw/plug method, and the finish screw method.

If you want a screw less and more modern-looking deck then you are going to be  interested in the hidden deck fastening systems made by companies like DeckWise. This method uses strong molded plastics and hardened stainless steel clips that insert into slots cut into the edge of the deck board which then rests on the top of the joist. If your using pregroove decking, then this is the best method to use. It is very easy to install because no other tools are needed. Clips come in three different colors, brown, black, and gray. They also come in several different types; short, tall, kiln dried, extreme and regular. These clips are among the strongest clips on the market. The standard box of Ipe clips goes for $96 and there is 175 clips in each box.Ipe-Clip-Dock-PicWhen using the IDeckWise Extreme fastening method, your deck screws must be installed at a 45 degree angle. Installing at a 45 degree angle will insure a much more stable deck. It will also help stop the possibility of splitting your decking.

The second method, face screw/plug method, uses predrilled 1/8” pilot holes. These holes run completely through the deck boards and into the joist. You will then screw the deck boards down with stainless steel screws. Ipe plugs are then glued into 3/8” holes on the face of the board with waterproof glue. I’d recommend epoxy or gorilla glue. Epoxy is better for gluing posts and can be dyed. You would then gently chisel off any part of the extruding plug with a wood chisel and sand smooth.  It may seem tedious but if you don’t want screws to pop up, covering them with ipe plugs is a great idea.

The third method you can use to build your Ipe deck is the finish screw method. This method uses 8” stainless steel trim head screws which are screwed into the face of the decking at an upright angle. We recommend 2 per joist. This method also suggests screwing the screw in an upright angle. The trim head screw is very small and less noticeable. It also can reduce the risk of stripping your Ipe deck more than the standard square drive.

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Deck with stainless steel screws method

If I had to suggest one method to use, it would be the Ipe clip fastening method. It uses the strongest clips and is the most stable. It also doesn’t leave any screw holes on your decks face or have the possibility for nails to pop up.

Get your free Ipe decking quote directly from the mill. Contact IpeDepot.com today.

Ipe Can Withstand Even the Coolest of Climates

As winter is dying down, flowers and newborn animals are beginning to repopulate the earth and that can only mean one thing…spring time!  Time to get your cobwebbed tools out of your garage and start making your yard look beautiful again, and that includes your deck.  If you have a composite deck, chances are there was some damage because of water getting into cracks, mold and mildew growing, etc.  Which means you’re going to have to get it fixed.  However if you built your deck with a strong and dense decking hardwood, like Ipe, rest assured it would still be in pristine condition.

Ipe is known for being an extremely dense hardwood.  That is what makes it great in wet and cold climates.  Because of its density, moisture is not able to create problems that softer deck materials are known for. Therefore Ipe is able to stay in its original form longer and less likely to become damaged.

Ipe decks can be found in some of the coldest cities in North America stretching from the Green Bay boardwalk in Wisconsin to the Toronto Wave decks in Ontario and the Ocean Beach boardwalk in Connecticut.  These three cities chose Ipe decking because they knew Ipe could stand against their bitter winters and monstrous foot traffic.  In the early 2000’s, the Ocean Beach Park residents realized their beloved boardwalk was slowly deteriorating.

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Home to dozens of cafes, shops and a even carousel, they knew they needed a strong decking material to host tourists and residents alike.  They wanted a decking material that could withstand harsh climate conditions and resistance to water. They went with Ipe because of its proven 75+ year lifespan, natural decay resistance, and the fact it needs little to no maintenance.  Almost 10 years later, their half mile long boardwalk is still up and running with no complaints of splinters.

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Here are some tips to help your Ipe deck make it through a harsh winter:

  • DO NOT SALT YOUR DECK. I REPEAT DO NOT SALT YOUR DECK!  Putting salt on your deck is a nice idea but salt dries your deck which can make it crack.  When boards are cracked moisture can get into the boards where they will later freeze and cause even more damage to your boards.
  • An Ipe stain helps keep your boards from aging.
  • Be sure to brush off any debris or dirt before winter hits because you don’t want it to become trapped in between your decks gaps causing mold or mildew.

To learn more about Ipe and to get a free Ipe quote check out IpeDepot.com.

What Ipe’s Hardness & Strength Mean for You

Ipe is famous primarily because it is one of the hardest and strongest woods in the world.  In fact, Ipe decking exceeds all existing code requirements for exterior constructions.  Here are the official stats:

Hardness: ASTM-D143 tested, approximately 7x harder than Cedar, Janka Side Hardness 3,680 lb

Strength: ASTM-D143 tested, approximately 3x stronger than Cedar, bending strength 22,560 psi

Before we go any further, you may be wondering what the difference is between these two terms.  Hardness is a material’s resistance to indentation, scratching, and abrasion.  Strength is a measure of how much stress a material can withstand without rupturing.

These two traits are closely related, since the same atomic-level characteristics play a role in both.  Although this is not a hard and fast rule and there are exceptions, generally, making a material stronger will also make it harder.

The next obvious question is this: how do these characteristics help you?

Strength can be defined more practically as the thing that prevents deck boards from breaking—one of the main reasons it is so often used in major public attractions across the country, where safety is a huge concern.

A hard decking material like Ipe will keep your deck from accumulating dents and scratches, allowing it to look beautiful for the entirety of its life.  It also makes Ipe impossible for termites and other insects to eat—just imagine if you tried to take a bite out of a rock.  This extends Ipe’s lifespan long past other softer woods.

Building Around Water? Use Ipe!

Many people like to build decks around their swimming pools or hot tubs—or maybe they need to build a dock, or even a bridge.  All of these projects have one thing in common: being near the water increases the risk of a wet surface, leading to potential slips and falls.  As a result, one of the chief concerns for such a project is how slip-resistant the building material is.

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So what makes a material slip resistant?  It all begins in the cell structure.  Ipe’s cells structure, which is extremely dense, manifests in a very tight, closely packed grain pattern.  This fine texture of interlocking grain gives your foot a good tractional surface to walk on.

But just exactly how “anti-slip” is Ipe?  Well, the wood was ASTM-C1028-89 tested, and the results were good.  In fact, Ipe exceeded the Americans with Disabilities Act requirements for Static Coefficient of Friction in a Wet Environment.

The advantages of Ipe around water don’t stop there, though.  Perhaps more so than any other kind of deck, a deck built around a pool or hot tub is likely to see a lot of bare feet, and who likes splinters?  It turns out that the same qualities that make Ipe slip-resistant also make it resistant to splintering.

Visit IpeDepot.com to learn more about Ipe’s safety features.