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September 14, 2015
Durable and dense—so dense it doesn't float—ipe is an excellent material for outdoor settings. But how to use it? Patio decking is the most common application but just one of many. While ipe's oils and tannins make it difficult to paint, a well-maintained ipe construction can last 25 years for more. If properly dried, the wood can be used within interiors as well. Lastly, while ipe is a tropical hardwood, it's now typically farmed instead of being harvested from the wild. If you're buying ipe, make sure it's been properly certified by the Forest Stewardship Council or other watchdog organizations. Here are seven ways to use ipe that aren't plain old decking!
modern landscaping terrace pie deck reflecting pool granite patio

Pair ipe with other materials, like granite: for her largest commission to date, a young San Francisco architect channels Tadao Ando to create an outdoor room for a couple in the Berkeley Hills. A maple tree grows through an ipe deck in the garden that Mary Barensfeld designed for a family in Berkeley, California. A reflecting pool separates it from a white-granite patio, which is furnished with a Petal dining table by Richard Schultz and chairs by Mario Bellini. Board-formed concrete retaining walls double as ramps from the deck to the garden’s highest point.

Photo by 
Originally appeared in An Architect Sculpts Out a Tadao Ando-Inspired Backyard
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A modern house in Winter Park, Florida

Use it on facades and exteriors: a design-build firm with a flair for modernism created this stylish indoor-outdoor living space in Winter Park, Florida. An enclosed courtyard, bordred by ipe, is arguably the most distinctive feature of the house that the architects of Phil Kean Design Group created for the clients.

Courtesy of 
Stephen Allen Photography
Originally appeared in A Modern Home for a Design-Savvy Family in Florida
2 / 7
A modern house in Winter Park, Florida

Insert it within the interior as well: for the same Florida home, Ipe makes another appearance in the living room, creating a strong indoor-outdoor connection. Kean sited the transom windows to capture views of the moss-covered trees in the backyard. 

Courtesy of 
Stephen Allen Photography
Originally appeared in A Modern Home for a Design-Savvy Family in Florida
3 / 7
modern courtyard ipe wood bench stucco wall

Build outdoor furniture with ipe: thanks to an earth-moving renovation, this hillside Virginia home located on a notch between two ridges becomes a place for play and repose. Here two residents are seated on an ipe bench designed by the architect Anna Boeschenstein; the stucco exterior cladding was matched to Cast Iron 6202 paint by Sherwin-Williams.

Photo by 
Originally appeared in How This Landscape Design Made a Home as Fun as a Playground
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modern backyard deck ipe wood

Use ipe as both furniture and decking! This angled ipe deck (with a built-in bench) transforms a backyard in Menlo Park, California, into a welcoming gathering spot. The surface slopes sharply skyward, creating a secluded backyard getaway that feels like an outdoor extension of her living room. A single step on either side leads to patches of gravel, which her children have claimed as areas for unstructured play. The architect initially conceived the deck as a conventional surface for relaxing and entertaining. With the bench, however, he seized an opportunity to create something both functional and visually arresting. “You go down these paths and, as the design mutates, other ideas attach themselves and make it stronger and more interesting,” he says.

Photo by 
Originally appeared in A Family Retreats to Their Ipe-Clad Backyard for an Easy Getaway
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Outdoor Shower after Highland Road house renovation

Make full use of ipe's ability to resist humidity and rot: this modern makeover put a Baton Rouge home in touch with its picturesque surroundings. The ipe-clad shower space offers a multisensory experience: the architect described how clients can take hot showers in the rain or simply lounge in the capacious garden area. Mint plants growing between the pavers release a pleasant smell when stepped upon.

Photo by 
Originally appeared in A Renovation Reconnects a House to its Louisiana Landscape
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Above the front patio, the designers created a trellis of Ipe, a Brazilian hardwood. This transformed the very important function of keeping the Texas sun at bay into one of the most striking elements of the house. The sun break wraps up and then over the

Don't be afraid to really expose it to all the elements (including the sun): an entreprenurial pair of Belgian brothers landed in one of Texas's few bohemian oases, become property owners, and find that sharing a house in adulthood isn't half bad. Above the front patio, the designers created a ipe trellis. This transformed the very important function of keeping the Texas sun at bay into one of the most striking elements of the house. The sun break wraps up and then over the second story with an artist’s flair. “It does more than just shade the windows,” says the architect.

Originally appeared in Red, Wood, and Blue
7 / 7
modern landscaping terrace pie deck reflecting pool granite patio

Pair ipe with other materials, like granite: for her largest commission to date, a young San Francisco architect channels Tadao Ando to create an outdoor room for a couple in the Berkeley Hills. A maple tree grows through an ipe deck in the garden that Mary Barensfeld designed for a family in Berkeley, California. A reflecting pool separates it from a white-granite patio, which is furnished with a Petal dining table by Richard Schultz and chairs by Mario Bellini. Board-formed concrete retaining walls double as ramps from the deck to the garden’s highest point.

Photo by Joe Fletcher .

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