Building Low Kayu Batu (Red Balau) with Ipe Clip ExtremeKD

JasonTongSeptember 29, 2011

Building Low Kayu Batu (Red Balau) with Ipe Clip ExtremeKD

I've found this forum to be really useful while planning out my deck. There were a ton of posts here and elsewhere with suggestions/past experience regarding what hiddenfasteners to use for which type of hardwood. I figure since I've completed my project, I'd post up details with what I did. So here goes...


I'm novice DIYer from Toronto, Canada, with really no previous experience in framing and deck building. The biggest "carpentry" project I worked on prior to this was installing baseboards for my entire house. Using lag bolts, carriage bolts, joist hangers were all completely new to me. Some pros will likely disagree with some of my decisions below.

Deck Dimensions

- one 13x13 sitting room area, another 18x13 bbq/dining area

- Deck is about 14 inches off the ground

- My beams were generally spanning only about 6 feet, so I used double 2x8s of pressure treated

- Joists were spanning only 6 feet, so I used 2x6's. I figure this helps air flow a bit as the deck is quite low to the ground

Deck wood

I had originally wanted Ipe, but it was quite costly and the wood seemed really difficult to work with, especially for a novice like me. I then found a supplier for Kayu Batu in Ontario and their prices were quite decent. Also Kayu batu (which uses the Red Balau species of wood) is quite strong but a bit easier to work with compared to Ipe. I picked 5/4 x6 boards as I heard 1" boards are still too thin and unstable. For skirting and fence boards, I used 1"x6 Dark Red Meranti from the same supplier, which looks close to Red Balau.

Kayu Batu is kiln dried, and when it arrived I had stacked them on my driveway (sitting on top of 2x4s) and laid a tarp over it. I used Messmers and coated all 4 sides before installing. You can basically apply the messmers, let the oil soak in and restack it back in the same way. The wood definitely needs a tarp over it as some cut pieces I left out in the open warped/cupped after several days. Definitely do not get it wet without it being attached to your deck.

I bought pre-grooved boards as I was going to use hidden fasteners (see below).

Fastener choice

I really liked the furniture grade look so I decided to use hidden fastners. I ended up picking Ipe clip EXTREME KD, as these clips have a stainless steel insert and the 'KD' clip is designed for kiln dried wood (expansion, instead of shrinkage). I had read a lot of negative reviews about the clips, but I think they might've been the plastic ones, which aren't as strong. Also, some other clips (although SS), do not screw at a 45 degree into the wood, which Ipe Clip does. So this went into part of my decision making process. Also, during the installation I used PL Premium to glue EVERY board down and screwed in with the clips, so really the wood isn't going anywhere... The Extreme KD clips have a spacing gap of 1/4, which I thought was really wide, but after several weeks of being out in the rain, the gaps shrunk a little, to aboue 3/16, as advertised by Kayu Batu. Now it looks pretty good.

I also read in an article somewhere that the squeaks you hear from using the clips is because the deck boards do offer as much cross bracing, so the deck structure isn't as strong and its moving as you walk over it (I think I'm doing a really bad job at describing this). What I did was I added blocking to the frame every 2 feet, which made the deck frame really strong and stiff. Its more than most people would do, but it really only took me an extra several I hours to do.

Deck Foundation (drainage, framing)

My backyard actually slopes towards the house. So I had to regrade the area under the deck. I also dug a trench right along the outer edge of the deck and filled it with gravel (wrapped with landscape fabric to prevent sediment from clogging the gravel). This helps keep the area under the deck a little drier.

I used 10" sonotubes, dug 16 posts, 4 feet down. Used the post brackets that separated the wood from the concrete (ABA66Z). When building the beams, I actually had really straight PT wood as it was still wet. So I attached 1 2x8 piece to the posts first, then applied PL premium and attached the 2nd 2x8 to the first one. I screwed AND nailed them together (screws to keep them together, nails to provide more structural integrity as screws will snap).

I actually mounted the 2 x 2x8 to ONE side of the post. Most people say this isn't as strong, but I also used 3 1/2 inch carriage bolts (each 10" long ). Each bolt supported a shear force of about 700 lbs, so 2100 lbs per post should be enough. Even the post it self can really only hold about 1500 lbs. I figure the side mount wouldn't be an issue. I used each beam to level out the next adjacent beam. Once the beams were attached, I cut off the top of the posts that were still sticking out.

Because my deck is so low, my joists were flush to the beams. A little more work as you have to attach so many joist hangers, and I had to be really careful to make sure the deck was square. I attached joist hangers at 16 O/C. The joists were still a little spongy at first, but after installing blocking every 2 feet, the frame became really really stiff.

To allow for ventilation, I left the bottom 3 inches or so open, with hardware wire mesh to let air flow under the deck while keeping animals out.

Installing Deck Boards

I ordered specific length deck boards that covered the entire length of the deck, so I didn't have to butt boards together. I used a wax based end sealer to seal the ends (do not use the green end sealer for pressure treated).

As discussed above, I used IPE Clip ExtremeKD, which required pre drilling the hole at 45 degrees and screwing just one side of the board. I found it somewhat difficult to fit the next board under the clip, so I had to slide it in at an angle. I also ended up prying the clip up a little bit sometimes just to fit the lip of the board under the clip (so the SS steel clip does bend a little). I applied PL premium on the joists one board at a time.

I bought a bowrench to help me bend the warped boards back into place. The tool was really handy, but then it has a tendency to bend the board up. I had 2 other buddies helping me with the install, and I found 3 people an optimal number. 1 guy to install the clips, one guy to use the bow wrench and apply weight to the board as the boards are going in, and another guy at the end of the board to make sure the bowrench doesn't raise the board.

I started installing from the house and went outwards. I ended up having to rip cut the last board and it wasn't exactly square to the frame. This may not work for some people, but for me, the last board is at the edge where I want to put a privacy fence anyway, so people can't really notice the last board anyway.

Once the boards were installed, I added another coat of messmers to give it really nice finish. Just laying the deck boards took 3 of us 2 full days to do.

Other finishes

I bought the baroque style black aluminum balausters from the Deckorators. They look amazing after they went in. I also built a 12 feet long privacy fence, which I ran horizontal boards instead of vertical. It had a really modern look to it. I had 4 posts for 12 feet, so the span of the boards was only 4 feet. This should help prevent the boards from sagging.

I also built a storage bench, where the top flipped up. Its like building a box planter with a flip top.

My railing posts were lagged to the RIM joist after the deck boards were installed. They do move a bit when I push them, but my deck is only 20" off the ground and I don�t expect many people leaning on the railings. If I were to do this deck again, I would install the posts before laying the deck boards so they�re more secure.

Special tools

Bowrench � awesome tool. Definitely needed for a hardwood like Red Balau or Ipe.

Palm Nailer � I can't hammer a nail straight for the life of me, so I bought a Rigid Palm Nailer and I swear thats one of the best tools I own. Great for narrow spaces. So easy to use that my wife was helping me nail joist hangers.

Final thoughts

The decking has been laid for 2 months now and I don�t see/feel any noticeable cupping. The Ipe Clip fasteners and PL premium seems to work well. Overall if I were to do this again I would pick the same wood and fasteners.

Hope this helps future deck DIY�ers out there!

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I'm a little ways done with laying my decking (1x6 Ipe) and I too chose the KD becuase i have kiln-dried boards. I am really regretting this so far. First off, the ipe sat in my (very moist) backyard under a tarp for about 5 months now so it's probably absorbed a ton of moisture and expanded about as far as it's going to go.

Second, the KD is "crushable" to allow for expansion whereas the other Ipe Clips are solid plastic with the stainless insert. This m,eans that as I lay m,y deckingf and use the Bowrench to straighten bent boards, instead iof actually straightening the board crush the KDs flat and remain bowed after fastening.

Did you have a similar experience? Maybe I'm just being anal but I have about $900 of these clips and I can't getr a straight seam using them.


    Bookmark   October 1, 2011 at 10:47PM
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Hey Darel,

I wouldn't worry about the gap spacing too much. I thought it'd bother me before, but its actually quite nice to have that spacing as leaves/dirt can be raked inbetween.

As for crushing the clips, I think I only experienced this when I installed the boards crowning inwards. Make sure you install the boards crowning outwards. This way as you`re applying pressure on the bow wrench, the furthest end isn`t crushing the clips from the previous board.

Also, if you use the orange spacers that come with the ipe clip, you won't really get an issue with your clips getting crushed. The spacers are solid plastic so it takes a lot more to crush those.

Ipe is stronger than Kayu Batu, so my experience wouldn`t be exactly the same as yours. But I can`t see that there`d be a huge difference...

Perhaps provide a little more clarification on how u`re installing the clips and I`m sure other experts will be able to chime in.

Good luck

    Bookmark   October 2, 2011 at 6:01PM
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I have written a couple other posts on this site in the past. I have over 25 years experience in the lumber industry in Southern California.

I'm currently the exclusive wholesale distributor of Kayu Batu Hardwood Decking in Southern California, I also sell dirct to the public as well. As of August 2013, I offer 1x6 Kayu Batu starting at only $1.85 per lineal foot (for 6' & 7'). I sell 1x4, 5/4x4, 1x6, 5/4x6, 2x2 & 1x6 T&G all in Kayu Batu. I also have 2x4, 2x6, 2x8, 2x12 & 4x4 in Kayu DRM (very sinilar to the Batu).

If you have any ing questions please feel free to contact me at or call me at 818-456-9777

Scott Morris

    Bookmark   August 8, 2013 at 9:07PM
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Scott Morris @ Decking Place
No advertising here on this site. They will come and get u

    Bookmark   August 9, 2013 at 4:17PM
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We like to say

    Bookmark   August 9, 2013 at 6:51PM
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