IPE Hardwood Decking Installation Guidelines

Be sure to complete this checklist:

  1. Material stored out of direct sun and weather
  2. Material allowed to equalize at site
  3. Spacing side to side: 1/16” for 4” & 6” boards
  4. T&G Porch flooring in covered areas only
  5. Adequate ventilation under deck
  6. Span of 24” max for 1x6
  7. Span of 32” max for 5/4x6
  8. Stainless Steel Screw Fasteners
  9. Pre-drilling required
  10. Seal end cuts with Anchorseal End Wax
  11. Oil-based finish is optional

Handling and Storage
IPE is a partially air-dried lumber and meant for exterior use. It should be stored in a dry, covered area at all times. The deck should be allowed to acclimate for at least one week to stabilize it for the area of application. The deck design should allow for ground side ventilation ensuring proper air circulation and long term deck stability. If your IPE boards arrive with sticker marks, they will fade on their own with time, usually in 30-45 days. Sticker marks should be faded prior to finishing.

Cutting & End Sealing
Carbide tipped saw blades and high-quality drill bits are recommended to cut IPE decking. Pre-drilling a pilot hole ¾” from the end of the boards will minimize splitting. Set the screws ¾” in from the sides of the boards and countersink them.

End Sealer is an aqueous wax that must be applied to the ends immediately after a cut is made. We recommend Redwood Empire’s “Anchorseal”. This will ensure board stability; prevent cupping and severe end checking.

There is almost no shrinkage or expansion on IPE lengthwise, so trimmed ends can be butted together tightly. IPE will shrink widthwise as it dries.

Season checking will occur on 4x4 posts or 6x6 timbers. This is a common occurrence as this very dense hardwood shrinks and expands with climatic changes. However, it does not normally affect its structural integrity. Cover the exposed ends of these posts with dunnage while under construction.

Fastening & Installation
Stainless steel screws are highly recommended. Counter-sink screws and use a positive stop so all screw heads end up at a consistent depth. These fasteners should penetrate 1-1/2” or more into the deck joists. Face screwing down into the joist is the only method of installation we recommend. Be sure to use two screws per board at the suggested span spacing.

All woods absorb moisture. Diverse weather conditions can cause both wood and composite decks to shrink or expand horizontally. Therefore, allow a 1/16” gap between the 4” and 6” wide boards placed side to side in dry, warm or mild climate conditions. A 1/8” gap should be used if installing Ipe just previous to or during the winter or in a generally wet/ humid climate. This will avoid buckling as the wood expands with cold/wet weather. The deck should be built at least 12” off the ground and the perimeter fascia around the deck well ventilated.

Safety Concerns
Safety glasses and a dust mask should always be worn when working with hardwood lumber. Some people may have an allergic reaction to hardwood dust. Remove wood slivers immediately to prevent infection.

Deck board sizes: 1x 6” and 5/4x 6” are most commonly used for a residential IPE deck. However smaller 1x4” and 5/4x4” may be preferred for aesthetic reasons as well as cost and long term performance (ie, less board shrinkage). The 2x6” deck boards are generally used for industrial and commercial projects.

Local building codes should be followed for commercial applications. They should also be consulted for snow load or beach location specifications.

IPE is relatively maintenance-free. It may be left to weather naturally to a silver-gray hue. One may choose to seal the wood or stain it. IPE may be sealed with a tung oil sealer before or after installation.

An oil-based stain may be a preferred appearance choice. It is recommended the deck be installed for at least a month before applying a stain. This allows for the wearing away of the original mill glaze or sticker marks. The natural density and alkaline content of IPE can cause a reaction with certain finishes affecting their drying and adhesion. A color change may also occur. A test on some IPE samples is suggested to ensure desired results. We suggest an oil-based stain with UV inhibitors. Before applying a sealer or stain the deck surface should be brushed and washed with mild dish soap and water to remove dirt or sticker marks. Due to the high density of IPE, a light coat of stain should be applied and any excess removed with a clean cloth after 20 minutes. Then allow the stain to dry thoroughly for 24 to 48 hours.

Porch Flooring
It is recommended that all T&G exterior applications be in a covered environment and be installed with a pitch to allow for proper drainage. Please refer to local building codes for specifics on pitch requirements. Material should be finished on all six sides before application to prevent moisture from collecting on the underside of the project. T&G products do not allow the spacing for ventilation and drainage of S4S products, which is why only covered installations are recommended. Fastening should be done with stainless steel fasteners, preferably ring shank or barbed. Install a trimhead 1-1/2” or 2” screw on the first board skipping every other joist. Joists that are skipped should receive a pneumatic staple through the tongue (display-ing an alternating pattern on each board). On the 3rd or 4th row of boards, repeat the screw/ staple pattern starting with the staples on the joist that was previously skipped. Use a
screw setter, pre-drill at a 45-degree angle just above the tongue. Avoid drilling into the
surface or face. Ipe Porch flooring has a low moisture content, however, it is imperative that the framing joists be allowed to season before installation.

Download a print version of these guidelines.

Disclaimer: Our tropical hardwood decking products are carefully manufactured and inspected to ensure quality. However, these products are natural wood products and as such are subject to variations in weight, density, color, grain and performance. Dimensional lumber will change as the moisture content in the wood changes with climatic changes. Swelling, shrinkage and checking are normal occurrences in wood decking. Sizes, lengths and pricing are subject to change without notice. Local building codes must be consulted when building an exterior deck. Most counties require building permits.