Im going to be installing a deck using IPE wood. Is there any tips for this. Can I use DeckMate screws for this like on Redwood decks? I suppose i might have to predrill. What are recommendations for finishing. any advise on this is appreciated.
Ipe is VERY hard, you will have to predrill clearance holes. Screws work fine. It does not need finishing, and will gray out with sun exposure. Not sure how good clear finishes are at preventing graying, they usually don't last long, 1-2 yrs.
A true clear contains no pigmentation, and therefore offers little or no U.V. light protection and will allow the wood to turn gray. Messmer's doesn't recommend unpigmented clears for exterior use, unless a gray, weathered look is desired. i made our back porch and railings from a mix of ipey and austrailian jarrah and some of the pieces had been varnished. they went gray and white stripey almost immediately. i found the best finish so far is boiled linseed oil. (anyone know of a betterfinish?) the pieces i did with that (so far) look fine. i agree with the 'no screws showing'.... it's too pretty of a wood to have that. i mounted from the underside and no screws or nails show anywhere. and this stuff is hard as a rock and brittle, so predrill. come spring, i'll be removing some of the pieces and redoing them.
here's a post from another forum.... very informative.
I am just finishing reinstallation of an Ipe deck and want to pass along my experiences. Initially, I used a contractor and consulted with local experts to make sure the job was done correctly, but we made several mistakes. The gorgeous, picture perfect deck that he built was a mess just four months later.
My contractor sealed the boards with Australian Timber Oil after sanding with 60 grit paper and cleaning each board with acetone. Our local timber yard (Truitte and White) recommended this procedure. After four months, the finish was gone! This is consistent with what Geoffrey reported. DO NOT SAND BEFORE SEALING.
He did not seal the underside as several experts told us this was not necessary. After four months, the boards began to cup. I learned from Geoffrey that this was caused by moisture seaping into the boards from underneath, causing the bottom to expand more than the top. It is an obvious outome when you think about it! SEAL BOTH SIDES.
You must wax every freshly cut end of Ipe. Otherwise, cracks will quickly appear. My contractor tried to be careful but he forgot quite a few and each and every one that he missed developed several cracks from one to three inches long four months later. If you are having someone install Ipe, I would check the boards myself to make sure each has been waxed. You can tell because the wax works its way slightly into the board and is visible from the top. If there is no wax, the color is uniform to the very end. It is not hard to remove single boards and wax them, after the fact. Once you notice cracks, they are much harder to fix and your contractor may be long gone. WAX FRESHLY CUT ENDS
Finally, he used an expensive undermount system that was clearly not working. The screws were very short and could not prevent the cupping. The treated lumber was already beginning to corrode the metal strips after four months. AVOID UNDERMOUNTED SYSTEMS
Here is how the problems were solved. As my contractor was gone, I hired a laborer to help me. We cleaned the boards with clorox and brightened them with oxalic acid. (You can buy pricy brand products which are essentially these chemicals.) We resealed with Messmer's this time, both sides. It has a powerful smell, so be sure to wear a mask! We removed all the short screws and turned the boards over to bake in the sun for a week. The excess moisture was reduced and the cupping disappeared. We cut off ends that were badly cracked. We turned each board back over and drilled from the top two 3/8" holes near the edges and over each joist. Trim Star screws worked easily and quickly. We tried to use these screws without countersinking and wooden "mushrooms" arose that were rough and unsightly. Other screws I tried were harder to install. I tried several samples on a piece of scrap Ipe. A great tool is the Bow Wrench. It is so easy to use and let's you install boards without a helper. Most boards are a little warped and you need to line them up against the adjacent board (with 1/8" gap). The Bow Wrench pulls the board straight and holds it steady, quickly and simply. It does not require that you hold it down with your leg, as does the Board Bender.
The final stage will be to insert Ipe plugs in the holes which are all lined up very nicely since we drew pencil guide lines with a long ruler. The deck gives the appearance of strength and craftsmanship with all this care.
Other problems are annoying, but I see no way around them. As opposed to redwood, Ipe is very heavy which is more fatiguing to work with and wears out drill bits and saw blades. I bought the best, and they still wear out quickly.
I hope to save others the headaches I have had with this material. It is beautiful and strong but there is a lot of misinformation out there about how to handle it.
Dangermouse, rockdoc.....correct about the UV inhibitors. The Messmers product I chose was a light brown color, not actually clear. I'd be interested in hearing how the linseed oil is working. Is grey the look you're going for? How long has it been on the deck? Should the oil be thinned?
Usually the people you buy the lumber from, can also get AnchorSeal. Its a wax emulsion used to seal the end grain. Without it, checks begin to form within a couple hours.
Havent had any issues with cupping. The first one I did is now 6 years old and it looks as good as new. I try to keep growth rings up, perhaps that helps some.
I would also go with the Ipe rail system. I think its very user friendly and easy to install.
Never used the underdeck fastening system but I can recognize it merits. The last one I did, at 700 sf, was all face screwed thru counterbored holes. Set the drill press up with a plug cutter and away I went. Over 2000 plugged holes in all. Think I'll stay with the clips.
Good luck with your project rockdoc. You wont regret using it.
here's a close up of the difference. i don't think i'll mind going out and giving it a good once over with an oily rag once a year to keep it looking like this.
it survived the first winter here with flying colors.
The Oiled deck looks great, did you oil this with a sprayer and just wipe it down, if so that would be pretty easy maintence for me and my 100 sq ft deck, i can do it at the same time I do my Teak Table
I saw at a freinds house where they used Stainless steel screws, gives it a nice contemporary look (picture enclosed)
when i did my porch, i didn't know about the wax, so i just soaked the ends in the boiled linseed oil as i did the flatsides.
it seems to be working! though i'd still like to get the wax and do the ends anyway. better safe than ugly...i mean, sorry....
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