Working with Ipe wood is slightly different from what you might be accustomed to. This kind of wood is a Brazilian hardwood, also known as Brazilian walnut, which has a Janka hardness rating of 3,680 pounds. This means it is much harder than maple, oak, and other types of woods used to build decks, furniture, and other such items. Due to its density, it is recommended to use special carbide tipped tools, keep edges of blades sharp, and always predrill holes for screws. It is also a good idea to have plenty of extra drill bits on hand, as well as a few extra saw blades.
Building an Ipe wood deck is similar to building a deck using other materials. Certain aspects of the project use identical wood. For example, the framing processes for the foundation use the same pressure-treated wood. It is important that you complete framing with the proper joist spacing. When working with Brazilian walnut, it is recommended that joist spacing be 12 inches, because it is better than using the typical 16 inch standard. In addition, you will want to consider sealing your pressure-treated wood against the elements, using an appropriate product. By sealing the wood, you ensure it holds up and lasts just as long as your Ipe decking.
There are a few differences from traditional decking materials that you need to be aware of while building your Ipe deck. First, you need to use stainless steel fasteners, because these are designed to help prevent rust from forming and creating rust spots on your wood. Next, when you cross-cut a hardwood board, you have to put a coat of end sealant on it in order to prevent it from cracking down the end. Lastly, you do not have to use a finisher on Brazilian walnut, as it already has natural resistances, unless you want to retain the original finish color.