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.

Ipe Pool Deck

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.

Ipe Withstands the Cold in Martha’s Vineyard

People ask us all the time if Ipe, being a tropical hardwood, is suitable for northern climates.  Our answer?  A resounding YES!

Edgartown Lighthouse Boardwalk in Martha's Vineyard

One of the concerns is how the wood will stand up to snow and the brutal cycle of freezing and thawing that can decimate concrete.  This was definitely a consideration when the boardwalk leading to the Edgartown Lighthouse in Martha’s Vineyard was constructed.  With temperatures reaching as low as 25degF during the winter, and an average snowfall of 40 inches per year, the weather is certainly unkind to building materials.  Fortunately, Ipe is naturally water-resistant, meaning excessive moisture won’t get inside, freeze, and create cracks in the surface.  As long as you install it properly, the natural expansion and contraction that occurs between extreme temperatures won’t cause any damage to the wood.

So, if you have a project in an area beset by harsh winters or extreme temperature contrasts, Ipe is a solid choice.  Learn more about Ipe at IpeDepot.com.