|After following this forum for a year, I took the plunge and built a couple Ipe decks. I decided to share some of the notes I took, lessons I learned and links to information in hopes it would be assistance to others getting started. Please note, I am not a professional (but an avid DIYer) and these opinions should be taken in that context.
I want to provide specific thanks to a couple of the pros on this forum: Steve (Brooklyndeck) and John Hyatt for their help in building my deck and reviwing this material as well as Linda for her proofreading/editing skills.
Please post your comments, tips/tricks, advise or recommedations for improvement to this message and I will update it (assuming people find it helpful) If anyone can tell me how to fix the formatting, let me know. Email me if you want the word version.
"Bumping it" to keep it near the top if you feel it will be of benefit to others
Ipe (pronounced EE-pay) is a Brazilian hardwood that has excellent properties for outdoor applications. It s extremely durable, weathers well and is very hard. It is commonly used on higher end decks and in commercial applications where longevity to harsh environments is a design consideration. Its a very hard material that is approx 8 times harder than California redwood.
Other materials that contain similar properties to Ipe include Garapa, Massaranduba, Cumaru, and Tigerwood. Each of these have some unique characteristics.
Many places on the internet sell Ipe and other Brazilian hardwoods. Some of the more popular places include:
Shop around, use the sources above and check locally. Buy from someone with a good turnover of material.
This is a subject with a lot of controversy. On both Garden web and the Contractor talk websites, the consensus from the pros is to stay away from the edge and bottom mounts. I understand Tiger Claw has released a new product that is getting better reviews but has not stood the test of time yet.
Make sure you use a stain made for Ipe. Ipe is a dense material that does not take regular stain well. Make sure the stain contains UV protection for maximum protection. Apply with a stain pad or brush. Make sure you remove excess material after 15 minutes (may show up as shiny pools of liquid)
Sand the decking with a 50 or 60 grit random orbital sander - do not spot sand. A higher grit (100 120)may be preferred on the handrails.
If you have lots of plugs, consider using a multimaster to cut plugs before sanding (an excuse to buy a new tool) otherwise a belt sander/palm sander works fine
If you need to clean up an old finish or want to restore the original color, you need to use a mild stripper followed up by an oxalic acid (sometimes called brightener). Woodrich and Sunbrite sell materials for this that are relatively inexpensive.
Recommended stain manufactures by members of the Garden web forum include:
Brooklyn Decks: "I use #7 and #8 headcotes for my decks. The #2 square drive is easier to use...less chance of stripping. An impact driver is the best tool for screwing them in"
John Hyatt: "I use noting but #7 square drive trim head screws to fasten S American lumber and havent for 15 years or so
I personally used the #8 brown colored headcotes on 4/4 Ipe. They worked great but seemed to be longer than necessary for 4/4 wood. No issues with stripping UNLESS I was attaching Ipe to Ipe (vs. Ipe to Pressure Treated (PT). In that case, I learned I had to use a larger drill bit and make sure I drilled deep enough so the screw did not bottom out. If it did, I would either snap the screw or strip it usually snap it. I received a tip from Steve (Brooklyndecks) to lubricate the screws using a wax toilet ring seal when doing this type of attachment.
Use two screws per deckboard board into each joist. This will help prevent cupping of the boards.
Some Sources of supplies:
You will most likely be using pressure treated wood for your framing. Lumber manufactures were required to discontinue using CCA (chromate-copper arsenate preservatives). New pressure treated wood contains much higher copper content to assist in preventing rot. These chemicals (copper) can create problems when you introduce another metal like aluminum, brass mild steel or zinc. Stainless steel is the optimal solution but is pricey.
If your project is near salt water use it anyway. If not, make sure you use fasteners approved for use with PT (ACQ : Alkaline Copper Quaternary or CA: Copper Azole) wood. Simpson makes special "Z-max" coating for their parts.
Nails should also be selected by their finish and approved use in PT material. Nails must have a rating of G-185 to be approved for use in ACQ.
Another solution is to apply a barrier between the wood and the fastener such as builders felt or a peel and stick flashing (roofing/window membrane) material. I used the peel and stick flashing on my posts and anywhere I sistered a joist or beam. (This was to prevent water getting caught in between the boards)
Put joists 16" apart when using 4/4 Ipe unless the wood is being laid on the diagonal 12" apart when laid diagonally.
Put joists 24" apart for when using 5/4 Ipe unless the wood is being laid on the diagonal. 16" apart when laid diagonally
Decks require good ventilation. Do NOT enclose a deck that will get moisture under it that does not include provisions for good ventilation. The more moisture, the more potential for warping. Note: I did not see anyone ever recommend using edge mounted deck fasteners where moisture could be of a concern.
Make sure you check your building code requirements with local building departments. Code requirements vary!
Decks.com makes available a guide with recommended details based on the 2006 International Residential Code. It is available here: http://www.decks.com/deckdetaildownload.aspx?binderid=3
If you would like a basic starting place/plan, most of the composite deck manufactures have a design tool on their website that you can use to come up with a plan. They are a bit basic but can be a good foundation to start from: Heres some links:
Moisture shield: http://www.moistureshield.com/deck-design-tools/
Calculating loads and pier sizes
I always bought premade stair stringers prior to this deck. I just didnt want the hassle of figuring out how to cut them myself. This time, I decided to take the plunge and do it right. It was the right decision! Its really not that hard and a few tools make it even easier. Fine Homebuilding released a how to build a deck book that includes a CD that shows them actually being built and this website does all the calculations for you: http://www.decks.com/Calculators/Stairs.aspx?
http://www.stairways.org/pdf/2006 Stair IRC SCREEN.pdf
Impact Drivers - These are ones I personally used while building my deck. The best was the Makita
Makita Lithium Ion 18V Impact Driver
Palm nailer Depending on the size of your deck, you can be installing 100s or 1,000s of nails into connectors or in tight spaces.
The pneumatic palm nailer is an inexpensive solution that works great and is a huge time saver. I bought a Rigid one from Home Depot and it worked great.
Metal Connector nailer I looked into these but could not justify the cost for one deck. Bostich, Senco and Palsode made them. The best rated I found was the Bostich. Note, they occasionally can be found refurbished at good prices.
Reciprocating saw A very nice to have. Get one with an orbital action for faster cutting. I like the Milwaukee and Porter Cable brands
Miter Saw I have a 12" compound saw made by Dewalt that worked fine. Get a good carbide blade. A series 20, 32 tooth Dewalt worked fine for me
BoWrench Great for straightening out those pieces of lumber. I used one and it worked well
BOARDBOSS An alternative to the BoWrench and recommended by Brooklydecks. Available at MCFEELYS.COM
Smartbits use for drilling and countersinking screws. Buy extra bits.
Tool site that offers a deal a day: http://www.tooliday.com/ I have bought several items I never knew I needed from them.
Multimaster - I do not own one (yet) but did get the opportunity to use one when building my deck. A bit pricey but for specific applications, very nice to have. If you did a lot of plugging, you might consider one to cut the installed plugs prior to sanding.
John Hyatt: http://deckmastersllc.com/ location Oklahoma City, OK
Brooklyndecks (Steve): http://urbanexteriors.biz/ location Brooklyn
Deckkman22: www.alscustomdecks.com location Austin Texas
BuiltbyMac: www.builtbymac.com location Eugene Oregon
Greg : http://www.bergendecks.com/ location Bergen County New Jersey (seems to do more composite)
Garden web files showing decks being built
Ipe Deck: http://ths.gardenweb.com/forums/load/porch/msg0610144817578.html
Ipe Deck: http://ths.gardenweb.com/forums/load/porch/msg072012207042.html
One of the biggest discriminators of a nice deck/landscape installation is what materials were used and how the connections were handled. For results that will last, use a professional grade transformer, fixtures and proper connectors. There are several landscape lighting websites where you can do some research or potentially find a contractor should you decide to subcontract it out. I could not find the better transformers or fixtures at the big box stores. They can be bought on line or landscaping supply houses. In my research, the professional transforms I saw in use most included:
o Kichler, Vista, Cast, Hadco, Nightscaping, FX
Connectors: ACE connectors, Belden Solder Seal, Dryconn wirenuts
To me, a professional installation means the spacing between all the balusters is the same (between the posts). I found a program in excel that does the entire math for you. If I can figure out where I found it, I will provide a link.
|Good Work, small addition > ss screws Fasco fastener 1 866 327 2633 < These guys are way below outfits like Manasquan in fact they probley buy from them. free shiping over $75 good quality and service. |
I cant see the hook and loop sander pads they cost more and work the same as the glue on. J.
|And way to go Steve!! a big pat on the back from the JonMon. |
Just keying in that post will save us guys a lot of hassel, and we can update it as things go on.
On an old site Steve,Joe wood and a bunch of great Folks and I were on that got taken over by the spamer bandits there was a Randy..Good Dude total comp nerd he kept tract of things like that, it was a great place and a lot of fun.
Thanks Again. J
|Fantastic post, thank you so much. I am forwarding the information to our deck builder. Ipe is not all that well-known in this area yet (mostly we see cedar and redwood), but the first ipe deck we saw made us believers. Beautiful. Your information will be much appreciated.|
|Thanks John, I am updating my "master" information list as information comes in. I also have sent it out to a few folks who requested it. The formatting is much better and the links work. I do not know how to fix my posting here to allow that all to work - beyond my computer capabilities :-) |
Back to the garage... Building some little tables out of the leftover Ipe.
|Hey John, |
We could use Randy over here to do the record keeping. That guy was like an encyclopedia. There were some other good deck guys there that just disappeared. Too bad.
|Building some little tables out of the leftover Ipe. |
I keep reading, I keep getting new ideas :)
|One question about framing: is it all right to use Trex (I think that is the correct name, it is a sort of manufactured decking material) to use as the framing under an ipe deck? It has been suggested to us as an alternative to pressure-treated wood, something that may last longer than pressure-treated. Opinions?|
|Composite material can not be used as framing for a lot of reasons. J.|
|Salmon: Thanks for your great work in compiling this. This link shows how to create a link within a document. |
A few things I'll add:
2. The decks.com guide is good. American Wood Products also publishes a good code reference.
3. I bought several deck books, and the most useful (starts with the basics, lots of photos) is Black & Decker's. It's updated for recent code changes.
4. I sketched out my plans and used decks.com's $99 plan drawing service. They did the load calcs, produced a framing plan, footer plan, and materials list in 24 hours. A great time saver!
5. Tools: I love the Bostich metal connector nailer, and have the Paslode framer and finish nailers (love them too, even if the framer took a nip out of my finger). I buy all my expensive power tools on ebay, and prices are generally 30-50% off retail for tools in good condition. If you're only using them for one project, you can put them back on ebay and probably recover most of your expense.
|Thanks Weedy. Next version will include the links using html. I did not know we could use it on this site. I will be happy to include your links.. |
If I run into problems with the html - you might get a PM...
waiting for the next set of pics.
Off topic: Do you know of a way we can create a location for people to post pics of the decks/ railing etc. I'd love to have a place where people can see, in one location, the different materials, designs and finishes. All of the software/tools I have used require me to list the people who can update the site (i.e. post pictures) and that would be too labor intensive.
P.M. me if you think its something I can set up.
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