I need a few pointers on installing an ipe deck. I have heard there are potential problems with cupping.

Asked by Susan Mayne
San Rafael, CA

The deck will be 12" above grade in a very sunny area of Marin County. We are trying to decide between 4" and 6" width and between screws and hidden fasteners. I understand that ventilation is critical. I would love to hear from someone who has experience with cupping and why they think it happened and how it can be avoided. Also, online there are so many suggestions about staining and sealing that I am overwhelmed by what I read.


With a wood decking material, installation of the decking boards is critical.

Always view the end grain on each board and place it so that the “cup” of the grains is facing downward. This will reduce the likelihood of the board to cup in direction of the grains.

Also, regarding the fasteners, I would recommend using a stainless steel deck screw.

  • Ipe is extremely hard and you will need to pre-drill each hole.
  • Also, pre-drilling will eliminate the possibility of splitting the board and a screw will resist the wood's tendency to cup or become loose.
  • Using screws also makes it easy to repair the deck, allowing removal and replacement of the individual board.

Ipe has a beautiful grain and natural color and it should be allowed to read through.

For the finish, use a clear waterproofing with an added UV inhibitor.


For more information:

Read "What are the best green alternatives to wood for decking?", a Q&A answered by Marian Keeler.

Tagged In: decking

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