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Since 1995

Materials We Love: Ipe Flooring

Outdoor living spaces have become one of the most popular things we build for our clients.

With the moderate climate here in central Virginia, outdoor spaces can generally be enjoyed for at least three seasons of the year. And with many projects now integrating outdoor fireplaces, chimneys and fire pits, these hardscapes, decks and porches can often be enjoyed year-round.

Using high quality materials is critical in building a beautiful home, but materials become even more important when they are exposed to the elements day after day. Outdoor spaces require each design decision to be carefully considered so that it looks great and lasts for years to come.

One of the best outdoor materials we have worked with lately is Ipe flooring (pronounced Eee-pay). Ipe is a Brazilian hardwood that is also known as “ironwood” because of its strength and durability. Ipe wood is so hard that it has been known to bend nails and generally needs to be pre-drilled before being installed. When installed correctly, Ipe flooring is also incredibly stable.  Wood moves once it is placed in its environment and starts to absorb moisture and acclimate to the climate. Ipe flooring does this in an extremely consistent way, meaning the decking stays level and even when installed with appropriately. Ipe is so strong that it is now used for bridges, siding, boardwalks, marinas and other places that are exposed to extreme conditions. It also has the same fire rating as steel and concrete, meaning it is nearly impossible to burn – great for areas where a fire element is being installed.

In this porch renovation, Ipe flooring warms up the space and makes it feel homey. Since the porch isn’t enclosed it will also stand up to years of exposure and wear.

Similar to mahogany, Ipe wood is a deep reddish brown that will naturally age to a silver-gray patina unless treated regularly with timber oil or deck cleaner. And don’t let the fact that this is Brazilian hardwood convince you that it’s not an environmentally friendly product. In fact, Ipe wood is FSC Certified, which means it has been approved by the Forest Stewardship Council and is therefore being produced in a sustainable, environmentally responsible and socially beneficial way.

This screened in porch’s Ipe flooring blends seamlessly into the beautiful wooded yard, bringing the outdoors into this three-season space.

In nearly every way, Ipe flooring is the best solution for a warm, hardwood look in your outdoor living space.






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