5 Reasons Why Ipe is so Popular in the Caribbean
1. Salt Water Resistant
Ipe Decking is incredibly dense and can thus resist a great many natural elements. Salt water is very corrosive to any material, but ipe wood is hardly affected by it. Wood or Lumber is not known for being moisture resistant – in fact, it is well known that water deteriorates wood rapidly. Ipe wood on the other hand, is naturally resistant to water. Ipe is from the Rain Forest, where it has adapted and developed to become almost completely impermeable to water, and salt water is no exception. No other type of wood can withstand constant exposure to the ocean the way ipe can without deteriorating. Also, since ipe wood has been around for many years, lumber shops have perfected the temperatures and times for kiln drying it. Ipe Decking that has been specifically dried for exterior use is widely available.
Look at the difference between ipe wood and pressure treated wood. You can immediately tell how much the salt water has deteriorated the pressure treated (PT) wood. Since PT is not as dense as ipe, it absorbs the salt crystals which are left after the water evaporates. These crystals then destroy the inner fibers of the PT wood. This does not happen with ipe.
On the left you can see a piece of ipe and on the right a piece of PT. You can immediately tell how inferior a quality wood the pressure treated is. Where ipe wood retains its original smooth texture, PT becomes cracked and splintered – a safety risk and an unpleasant sight.
2. All Natural – no Chemical Pollution
The Caribbean Islands have to protect their most precious resources! The land and the beautiful sea is what attracts tourist all year long. In order to protect and preserve the islands, it is important to build using eco-friendly materials. Ipe wood is all natural and does not require any chemical treatment or corrosive process to be milled. This is means that ipe will not give off any harmful chemicals into the ground or ocean, will not become junk plastic once its lifespan is done, and will not intoxicate the animals that are part of the natural habitat. The only animals that will not like Ipe wood are termites and fungus – ipe wood is naturally impermeable to those (but we think that’s a good thing).
3. Long Term Investment
An ipe deck is a long term investment. Even though ipe costs more than softwoods or even some composite decking brands, it is the only material that will last for over 50 years. Another added benefit is that ipe requires little to no maintenance, thus saving time and money each year which would otherwise be spent on upkeep. The high density (imagine this: a 3/4″ thick piece of ipe wood weights approximately 4.5 pounds per square foot), make ipe wood rot, mold, mildew resistant and gives it the A-1 fire rating (which is the same as concrete and steel), so ipe is guaranteed to last. Since it will not splinter or crack it is not a risky material to install where lots of bare feet are walking, which saves money on injury and lawsuits. With ipe wood, you invest in building the deck once and can then forget about the project for many years to come. A pressure treated deck has to be replaced every five years, so even though pressure treated wood is less expensive you have to calculate in the shipping costs (every five years), the installation costs (every five years) and that adds up!
4. Retains Cool Surfaces
Part of the reason ipe wood is so popular in the Caribbean is that it does not get hot in the sun. The Caribbean is synonymous with hot sunny weather, but this can translate into scorched feet if the wrong decking material is used! Ipe hardwood naturally absorbs less heat than other materials, which keeps its surface temperature cool. Other decking materials cannot claim this since they have plastic or metal inside them. Whether an ipe deck is installed for a residence or a commercial space, it is a great not scorching bare feet is important and one of the amazing feature of this Brazilian hardwood.
With the year long pleasant weather, the turquoise ocean, and the white sandy beaches, its no wonder many luxury resorts are located in the Caribbean. Aside from the gorgeous views and the secluded locations, guests are looking for five star amenities when they visit the Caribbean. Given its price and exclusivity, ipe hardwood provides the perfect building material for a luxury resort. Ipe wood can be used for any exterior structure, which means five star hotels have can use it for walkways, decks, docks, cabanas, gazebos, posts, roof shingles, siding, stairs, and more. Not only is ipe wood a luxury product because of its high quality as a wood but also because of its beautiful color. Whether it has the rich chocolate colored brown of when it is first installed or left to turn silver, the color of ipe is gorgeous, natural, and stunning. Luxury resorts also have to make sure their guests are safe and comfortable (all resorts have to, but luxury resorts in particular have very demanding guests). Only ipe can offer the level of safety required. Ipe wood does not crack or splinter, which avoids accidents for bare feet. It also means the structural integrity of the deck, dock, or pergola is always intact.
Interested in building your own Caribbean style outdoor retreat? Want to know more about building an ipe deck? Check out our main page to see all the great hardwood products we offer! You can also contact us to get a complete quote.