If you know anything about Ipe hardwood, it is truly an amazing wood. It has a Janka rating of over 3600, making it one of the densest woods that are currently available on the hardwood flooring market. Ipe has a lot of very positive characteristics, but it also has its issues!
It is so dense that with even a marginal finish applied to the surface, most spills will pool on the top rather than penetrate below. And it survives the abuse from the even a 100 pound sheep dog with limited wear marks.
Ipe Hardwood Flooring is referred to by many names depending on the country of origin and who is making the flooring. Brand names like Ironwood(TM) and Pau Lope(TM) are common as are “consumer names” like Brazilian Walnut. For some reason, North American retailers think referring to it as a walnut will make it more understandable to today’s consumers.
Ipe is really a cluster of many trees from the Bignoniaceae family (Tabebuia, spp) that share a common appearance and physical characteristics. They are all dense and rather straight grained. Some pieces look quite similar to teak. It is very resistant to decay, termite and dry insect attack, although this is not significant (I hope) when choosing ipe as interior flooring. It is VERY fire resistant as well.
Colour range varies from a medium straw with olive green overtones to a reddish brown with darker black streaks common in some boxes of ipe hardwood. Flooring samples can then have a very large range of colours. Make sure that you understand this, and don’t buy, expecting colour uniformity. It is always best, if possible to visit a customer that has had this type of flooring in use for a number of years. You can then judge not only the appeal of the colouring but also the durability of the finish.
For installation it will require a very good quality grade of carbide blade on your miter saw to even attempt any trimming to length. If you have a large expanse of ipe flooring to cover, a second blade made be necessary. All holes, like those that you need to install for the first few rows of flooring will have to be drilled close to the size of the finishing nail you intend to use, otherwise you will split the wood. Experiment first, to save a few pieces of ipe flooring.