IPE Hardwood Floors
Ipe hardwood is an awesome
wood for hardwood flooring... or is it?
Certainly the fact that it has a
Janka rating of over 3600 making it one of the densest woods that
is typically seen in the hardwood flooring market, suggests that
it would be the perfect high traffic floor. In fact it has a long
history of use in the industrial world as the ideal product for
railway ties and heavy truck bedding for just this reason.
So the wear an ipe floor would get in your home is relatively
insignificant. Most daily traffic would have a hard time leaving
a scratch. It is ideal for homes with large dogs or rough kids.
So what is the "or is it?"
Ipe hardwood is a somewhat difficult wood to finish. Its chemical
makeup interferes with the drying, adhesion and absorption of
wood stains and top coats. Thus I'd never suggest buying it unfinished
and attempting to finish it in your home. Ipe's extreme density
prevents most finishes from penetrating below the surface, thus
it takes a bit of experience to gain the knowledge for effective
Aside from all this, in order to "house finish", you
would first have to sand the ipe. Hardwood floors are then coated
with some version of a polyurathane, but the sanding is the issue.
IPE and its related family of Lapacho and the trade group of Brazilian
Walnut hardwood flooring has been known to cause respiratory and
contact dermatitis allergic reactions. Care should be taken when
exposed to its dust. Best bet is to buy ipe hardwood flooring
Ipe wood is also not so happy in dry climates. It is difficult
to dry at the best of times and if it is installed in environments
with seasonal low humidity (ie. under 35% relative humidity) it
does have a tendency to crack. It is very difficult for Brazilian
manufacturers to adequately kiln ipe wood to a relative humidity
that works in areas like Northern Ontario, when the tropical rainfall
is as high as it is! AND it is near to impossible to acclimatize
such a dense wood effectively while in your home, to respond favourably
to low hunidity levels.
- Don't buy this product if dryness is a feature of your home
environment, remember where the IPE wood comes from.
- Buy Prefinished floor only
- research the "brand" to see if they have mastered
the challenge of finishing Ipe Hardwood flooring
Hard Wood Flooring
Other Wood Species of Hardwood Flooring
Janka Ratings For Hardwood Lumber