I live in a house that is over 100 years old. In the south. In a city that rivals Seattle in rainfall, and Dallas in heat. Our front porch is typically southern: wide enough to welcome visitors and deep enough to shield their rocking chairs from the sun. When we first moved in, my husband and I hated the porch on sight.
While the southern pine planks had been recently painted, no doubt to “spruce” the house up for a quicker sale, the new layer of shiny black gloss could not conceal splintered, cracked boards that had split apart just enough to reveal loosening nails.
The porch wasn’t even that old, and had been well cared for. The thing is, although pine is certainly a southern tradition, it’s really just not the best material for a southern porch, or any porch, for that matter.
If you, like me, want a porch that will last for generations with very little upkeep, you need a wood that boasts terrific stability, resistance to splintering, and nearly unrivaled hardness.
You need a hardwood, and not just any hardwood. To build the finest deck or porch in the neighborhood, you need Ipe.
What is Ipe Decking Anyway?
- Also known as Brazilian Walnut, Ipe is a Tropical hardwood unparalleled in its combination of beauty and durability. In terms of the industry standard Janka Hardness test, ipe scores a whopping 3680- which means it’s harder than Teak or Cedar.
- When it comes to Bending Strength, Ipe boasts a Modulus of Rupture of 25,400 PSI, which, again, is higher than that of traditional hardwoods used in decking.
- Ipe is DENSE. Its natural oils and tight grain give it such a high Specific Gravity that it actually sinks in water.
Ipe Wood Sounds Impressive, but SO WHAT?
- Janka Hardness, Bending Strength and Density tests and numbers probably mean as little to you as they used to me, but here’s the deal:
- You want a hard deck because it won’t dent and scratch as easily as a deck made of softer material. It will look newer, longer.
- You want a flexible deck because those don’t splinter and crack under heavy loads like grills, fryers, or guests in rocking chairs.
- You want a dense deck because it will resist rot and wood boring insects.
Let’s face it, if a deck is going to be around for 50 years or so, it better be good looking. In terms of beauty, Ipe is a knockout. It has swirling, tight grains that vary in color from green to nearly yellow, dark brown to black. The tones come together in a striking display that never fails to draw comments. People literally knock on my door to find out what my porch is made of. Don’t want that much attention? When left alone, Ipe weathers into a smooth, silver patina that is a bit more understated.
Our Ipe porch is now nearly ten years old. It has never been painted. It has never produced a single splinter (I’m serious). It has never buckled or cupped, in spite of hurricanes and tropical storms, and it repels termites, carpenter ants and even fire, naturally. Plus, it’s gorgeous.
My house has been around for over 100 years, and I swear the ghosts of its previous owners are kicking themselves for the time and money they invested in maintaining and replacing that old pine front porch. Me? I invested in rocking chairs, and lots of time enjoying the way they move over the beautiful, smooth boards of The Best Porch Ever.
Do your own research and discover the reasons Ipe decking is the best choice for you:
Ipe Decking Specifications & Characteristics
Ipe Decking Report from the USDA Forest Products Laboratory
Build your TimberTown deck with Ipe decking today.