Ipe Deck Budget and Budgeting
How to be sure you are not caught short of fund when building a Brazilian or Ipe Deck.
Ipe Decking is a wonderful product. The foundation is similar to any other deck. You will do pressure treated (PT) framing. Most of our contractor friends will do either 16" or 12" on center (oc) joists. The only real difference will be in the decking and its installation. When budgeting for Ipe or a Brazilian Hardwood, you will need to account not only the Ipe but also the fasteners and the labor.
The framing for an Ipe Deck, or any deck whether Brazilian Hardwood or not is fundamentally the same. There are many website that explore this topic in detail and we will just hit the Ipe related here. Basically, our contractor friends choose to either frame with 12" or 16" joist spacing. The more common is the 16" center however we do see a lot of 12" centers. Our contractors tell us they see on various blog sites where people push the edge and go 24" on center. Their stance is "Why would you want to? Just because you can do it does not mean it is good business practice. Sixteen is standard and 12" is better." Another contractor friend says, "why would you put ipe decking that will last for 25 years or more on a foundation that will fall apart in five?"
The outcome of these discussions is to plan for 16 inch on center is a good place to start. If you are replacing an existing deck that has a wider joist spacing then just drop an extra joist between your exising one. Beyond that the foundation for Garapa Decking or Brazilian wood is the same.
The Ipe or Brazilian decking is a larger cost item. The Ipe decking is usually the most expensive. Frequently you can purchase another type of Brazilian Hardwood like Garapa or Tigerwood that is a little cheaper. Remember, the hardness of Brazilian hardwood is 2 to 3 times as hard as our domestic oak. As Ipe is so hard, you can buy decking that is thiner that you would expect. A 1x6 board is only 3/4" thick and is a common decking size.
When you are looking at an Ipe Deck, plan on using Stainless Steel Fasteners. There are a lot of 'ACQ Compliant Treated sccrews' available. The work well in the average application. However when you drive the screw in the driver will "nick" the coating and allow rust to form. After some time your beautiful Ipe or Tigerwood deck will have little rust spots all over it. This became such a problem that we no longer carry MCQ Compliant treated screws. If you want the hidden fastener look you screws will also have to be MCQ compliant as they are going into Pressure Treated wood that requires these. Most of the hidden fasteners use Stainless Steel for this reason. Remember, your deck will last for decades and it makes good financial sense to provide the proper foundations and fasteners.
Labor for the framing is the same as any other deck. However, Ipe decking or any Brazilian Decking is so hard that you have to drill every hole prior to screwing it down. Stainless steel screws will "noodle" if you try to install them without drilling. If you are planning to deck yourself or having a contractor do this budget some funds for this extra labor. When you are using a hidden faster like Ipe Clip Extreme, you will drill 1/2 as many holes as face screwing but you will still have time involved in drilling holes. If you or your contractor wants to use a hidden fastener that requires a groove you will either have to have the wood pre-grooved or use a biscuit joiner to create grooves. Either way there will be a little extra funding needed. To convert to sq ft a x6 board (1x6 or 5/4x6) multiply sq ft by 2.2. To convert to sq ft a x4 (1x4 or 5/4x5) multiply by 3.42. Example 100 sq ft is 220 lf of 1x6 Ipe.
Biggest Got-ya. We asked the contractors what the biggest mistake in buying decking and the most common answer is a homeowner not buying enough wood. Our contractor customers always buy 10% extra wood for mis-cuts, mis-measures, and mis-takes. Shipping can be very costly on just a few boards (more than the boards themselves).
The final differences between Ipe Decking and a PT deck are the end sealing and the finishing. Whenever you cross cut a hardwood board (cut the end off), you will need to put a coat of End Seal or "wax" on it. Exposed hardwood cracks down the end. These cracks are call checking and are unsightly. The End Seal looks like a thick white paint. Once applied it will dry and look like paraffin wax. You just apply it with a small brush or poly brush.
Brazilian wood do not need finishing. Ipe finishing is a personal preference. Ipe or any Brazilian decking does not need a finisher. The only reason you use a finisher is to maintain color. With a finisher, the decking will maintain it characteristic color (Ipe Brown, Tigerwood red, ...) If you do not use a finisher the wood will gray like all wood in the sun will do. The Ipe decking for most coastal areas of the Carolina's, Georgia and much of Florida is left without finisher. Gray is normal and accepted. In the suburbs of Atlanta GA, a large community has convents that require gray. However, in much of the heartland the norm is to apply finisher to maintain color. When building your deck be sure to budget cleaning.
Least you need to know to budget an Ipe Deck
- Decking Foundation is the same price
- Ipe decking is priced by the linear foot, convert to square foot (2.2 for x6 and 3.4 for x4)
- Only use Stainless Steel fasteners
- Remeber to add extra Labor for drilling
- Finisher will add a few hours