Ipe is a Brazilian hardwood that is extremely hard and durable for outdoor use. The wood is naturally resistant to mold, rot and insects. Ipe has characteristics similar to teak and requires predrilling for nailing and requires the use of a carbide-tipped blade for sawing.
Ipe wood lasts 25 years or longer as a deck. It is not affected by termites and is resistant to scratches. The tight grain of the material makes it fire resistant. Natural ipe is a brown wood with hues of red and amber. Left untreated, ipe weathers to a natural gray finish. Regular application of an ultraviolet light protective sealer maintains the original color. If the wood grays, cleaning with a pressure washer restores it to the original color.
While ipe decking is a low maintenance material, maintaining the deck requires the owner to keep it free of debris, such as leaves. He should clean any spills as soon as possible after they occur.
Ipe causes allergy symptoms in rare cases. Some sufferers report skin, eye and respiratory irritation, while others report headaches, asthma-like symptoms or blurred vision.
Some dealers refer to ipe as Brazilian walnut, especially when referring to flooring material, but it is not a true member of the walnut family.