South American hardwood products like Ipe (pronounced ee-pay), Garapa, Cumaru, Massanarduba and Greenheart have grown to be rather desirable for deck design during the past 10 years or so. These products are all attractive and are available in a variety of colours and shapes and sizes. These kinds of products are all very long-lasting woods and will endure the elements for years, however these hardwood products may not be for you depending upon on your locality.
Ipe deck building is the most high priced and also the hardest and most durable of the South American decking products and is practical for most any climate. Cumaru and Massaranduba, while almost as durable as Ipe, have a unique grain structure and are more inclined to warp or cup in higher humidity locations. These types of wood should be kiln dried and work great in areas with medium to low humidity. Garapa, while only about three quarters of the denseness of Ipe has a decent cross grain format and needs to be ordered kiln dried to prevent problems in high humidity locations. Greenheart has the same denseness as Ipe and is implemented largely in marine applications and should be purchased air dried as it is susceptible to splitting.
All of the above described types of wood are very remarkable in rot and insect level of resistance and if correctly installed should endure around forty years or longer. All of these woods are predisposed to end checking and need be end sealed with a product such as Anchor Seal during installation. These hardwood products are distinctive to pressure treated decking in that they loose their moisture content by means of the end grain as opposed to the face grain in pine and spruce, which causes splitting and cracking in the face of the wood.
There are a variety of techniques for installations of these decking options. The sturdiest and most long-lasting is direct screw down with stainless steel screws which can be plugged if you don’t want to view the screw faces. There are several hidden fastener systems available for these decking options. Ipe Extreme Clips come in various colours, are stainless steel based and install into a groove which can be cut with a biscuit jointer or bought pre-grooved into the decking.
All of these hardwood products do not need to have routine maintenance other than end sealing on installation and over time will age to a sliver grey. If you want to maintain the natural colour of the deck it needs to be sealed and stained with a high UV sealer and depending on exposure to the sun and climate will only last around one year or possibly longer. TWP 100 series is a good sealer for these types of hardwood. This sealer can be re-applied prior to graying or can be cleaned with a base/acid cleansing agent like Woodrich products, which will bring back the natural colour, balance the PH of the wood and from our past experience make the sealers last for a longer period if coated correctly.
If you are looking for a long lasting wood product and don’t mind the faded look, Ipe can be a great solution. If you want the fresh new it can be a yearly chore.If you are looking for a deck building contractor, call us for a quote on your project 705-716-7543 or email us.