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Beauty and brawn.

IPE IS ONE TOUGH WOOD: It has the fire rating of concrete and steel and it's so dense it won't float. The wood is favored for outdoor applications and is often used for decking, furniture, heavy construction, marine wood and also interior flooring. It is also gaining in popularity for cabinetry in outdoor kitchens.

Dan Ivancic, director of marketing for Advantage Trim and Lumber, said the wood is known for its durability and low maintenance. For his company, ipe currently occupies the top spot as the most popular choice for decking ahead of woods such as cumaru and tigerwood, also known as goncalo alves. "Ipe has been the number one choice of our customers despite the fact that it is the most expensive wood of the three. Cumaru and tigerwood cost approximately 25% less than ipe," noted Ivancic.

Ipe has a well-known reputation for standing up in harsh conditions. "It was the wood used on parts of the boardwalk at Coney Island and other famous landmarks," Ivancic added.

The lumber has been described as having an olive brown to blackish color, often with light/ dark striping. As a species, ipe can be found in the tropical forests of Central and South America, including: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, French Guiana, Guyana, Paraguay, Suriname, Trinidad, Tobago and Venezuela.

That said, don't be confused if you see differing family names for various species of ipe. Prior to 2007 ipe was considered a member of the Tabebuia genus but was reclassified after sophisticated testing, which included DNA, revealed various species belonged instead in Handroanthus. Ipe is also sometimes known as Brazilian walnut, but the wood is not a member of the Juglans genus. The Janka hardness for ipe varies, due most likely to the range of species involved, but is variously reported as 3,510 to 3,684.

As for its sustainability, ipe is not listed in the CITES Appendixes and some ipe material is FSC certified.



Handroanthus species, including Handroanthus guayacan, Handroanthus impetiginosus and Handroanthus serratifolius of the Family Bignoniaceae. (Pre2007 various ipe species were designated as members of the Tabebuia genus).

COMMON NAMES: Ipe, lapacho, Brazilian walnut

HEIGHT/WEIGHT: Ipe has trunk diameters of 2-3 feet and can grow to 100 feet tall, although some top out at 150 feet. The average dried weight is 69 pounds per cubic foot. The Janka hardness is 3,510 to 3,684, depending on the species of ipe.

PROPERTIES: Ipe offers strength, stability and high shock resistance and is naturally resistant to attack by insects and fungi.

The wood can be somewhat difficult to work. Experts recommend pre-drilling when nailing the wood and using carbide tipped tools.

Ipe has an impressive fire rating.

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Title Annotation:WOOD OF THE MONTH/IPE
Author:Kaiser, Jo-Ann
Publication:Wood Products
Date:Sep 1, 2014
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