IPE/Garapa in snow country

jmac1145July 23, 2009

I've been looking at composites, pvc and aluminum to redo my cedar deck. This forum has been very helpful except for very few people having any experience with the aluminum.

However, the one thing that I did notice is that a lot of people talk about the Ipe/Garapa etc hardwoods. With just a little googling I found that there is a place in my area that sells these hardwoods.(IPEDepot.com). I'm planning on making a visit to them to satisfy my curiosity and see these woods,

but I'm wondering how they fare in the snow country where we sometimes have snow and ice on our decks for 4-5 months. I've had enough with the cedar upkeep. Would I be in the same boat with IPE except for maybe the occasional rotting boards?

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With our life span as it is you will not have rotting boards using S American lumber. J.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2009 at 3:24PM
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I have several dozen 6' 8' ipe 6" wide planks that were stacked one on the other for several years and they started to rot. Is it possible that ipe is over-rated and does actually rot under the right conditions?

    Bookmark   August 26, 2011 at 7:44PM
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Two things breakdown IPE:
1) sunlight breaksdown slowly-get grey color eventually if not protect. Only surface damage and rest of wood intact

2) Continuous exposure to moisture. IPE not rated for ground contact means can not stay damp indefinitely. Your experience probably had boards sitting on ground for an extended time. Not sure about effect of continuous snow load on deck through winter. Also if boards allowed to check, water can seep into cracks, freeze and expand causing deterioration. End sealing is important. Surface sealing always a plus.

Regarding Aluminum, I am doing Aluminum railing. Low maintenance, easier install and thinner railing allows less obstructed views. Didn't want glass panels because hilltop position would likely result in death to some hawks that frequent area. Didn't choose cable rail because concerned about code issues (climbable) though think this is a great option in areas where allowed.

Chose Gilpin rail from fencetown.com (also avail at higher price at Lowes special order desk). Manufacturer great customer support. Geared toward surface mounted posts(Need to put in bracing under deck boards to screw post into). If need sidemounted(I used on steps), they sell posts, but not mounting brackets. (contact Key Link fencing for excellent brackets that fit--expensive but well made. Do not thru bolt hollow post-may crush and may eventually fail)

    Bookmark   August 28, 2011 at 1:13PM
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There are ipe fence posts that have been in the ground for over 100 years in South America.

Masenranduba is even more resistant than ipe for ground contact.

Finish on South American lumber is cosmetic only. It wont make the lumber last longer with it or shorter without it. There has never been a problem with water geting into SA lumber during a freeze and spliting it apart or causing deterioration.

SA lumber is not going to rot in a " few years " laying in a swamp.

JonMon www.deckmastersllc.com

    Bookmark   August 28, 2011 at 7:03PM
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