Ipe (Tabebuia spp.)
Ipe (Handroanthus spp.)

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Common Name(s): Ipe, Brazilian Walnut, Lapacho

Scientific Name: Handroanthus spp. (formerly placed in the Tabebuia genus)

Distribution: Tropical Americas (Central and South America); also farmed commercially

Tree Size: 100-130 ft (30-40 m) tall, 2-4 ft (.6-1.2 m) trunk diameter

Average Dried Weight: 69 lbs/ft3 (1,100 kg/m3)

Specific Gravity (Basic, 12% MC): .91, 1.10

Janka Hardness: 3,510 lbf (15,620 N)

Modulus of Rupture: 25,660 lbf/in2 (177.0 MPa)

Elastic Modulus: 3,200,000 lbf/in2 (22.07 GPa)

Crushing Strength: 13,600 lbf/in2 (93.8 MPa)

Shrinkage: Radial: 5.9%, Tangential: 7.2%, Volumetric: 12.4%, T/R Ratio: 1.2

Color/Appearance: Heartwood can vary in color from reddish brown, to a more yellowish olive brown or darker blackish brown; sometimes with contrasting darker brown/black stripes. In certain species, there are powdery yellow deposits within the wood. Ipe can be difficult to distinguish visually from Cumaru, another dense South American timber, though Ipe tends to be darker, and lacks the subtle yet characteristic vanilla/cinnamon scent while being worked.

Grain/Texture: Has a fine to medium texture, with the grain varying from straight to irregular or interlocked. Moderate natural luster.

Endgrain: Diffuse-porous; solitary and radial multiples; medium to large pores in no specific arrangement, moderately numerous to numerous; tyloses and mineral/gum deposits occasionally present; parenchyma unilateral, winged, and marginal; narrow rays, spacing normal; ripple marks present.

Rot Resistance: Rated as very durable; excellent insect resistance, though some species are susceptible to marine borers. Superb weathering characteristics. (Ipe was used for the boardwalk along the beach of New York City’s Coney Island, and was said to have lasted 25 years before it needed to be replaced: an amazing lifespan given the amount of traffic and environmental stresses put upon the wood.)

Workability: Overall, Ipe is a difficult wood to work, being extremely hard and dense, with high cutting resistance during sawing. Ipe also has a pronounced blunting effect on cutting edges. The wood generally planes smoothly, but the grain can tearout on interlocked areas. Also, Ipe can be difficult to glue properly, and surface preparation prior to gluing is recommended. Straight-grained wood turns well, though the natural powdery yellow deposits can sometimes interfere with polishing or finishing the wood.

Odor: Ipe has a mild scent while being worked.

Allergies/Toxicity: Although severe reactions are quite uncommon, Ipe has been reported to cause skin, eye, and respiratory irritation, as well as other effects such as headaches, asthma-like symptoms, and/or disturbance of vision. See the articles Wood Allergies and Toxicity and Wood Dust Safety for more information.

Pricing/Availability: Primarily sold as decking or flooring, boards for furniture or general use are sometimes availabe as well. Prices are moderate for an imported tropical species.

Sustainability: This wood species is not listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. However, Ipe species grow in very low densities, with mature trees only occurring once per 300,000 to 1,000,000 square feet (3 to 10 hectares) of forest area. This necessitates the clearing of large sections of rainforest trees (most of which are of little commercial value). Though uncommon, certified sources of Ipe are available.

Common Uses: Flooring, decking, exterior lumber, veneer, tool handles, and other turned objects.

Comments: Ipe is a wood of extremes: extremely dense and durable, as well as extremely difficult to work. Its incredible hardness and strength make it well suited for flooring applications, though it is referred to as “Brazilian Walnut” among flooring dealers—though it is not related to true Walnut in the Juglans genus.

Formerly placed in the Tabebuia genus, species of Ipe (H. guayacan, H. impetiginosus, H. serratifolius) were moved to the Handroanthus genus in 2007 based on genetic studies

Related Species:

None available.

Related Articles:


Ipe (sanded)
Ipe (sanded)

Ipe (sealed)
Ipe (sealed)

Ipe (endgrain)
Ipe (endgrain)

Ipe (endgrain 10x)
Ipe (endgrain 10x)
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Can anyone help me identify the wood species in this photo. It was an old table top.
It’s very hard and strong which is why I thought it might be ipe but not sure. I wet the top half of the piece to better bring out the color tones.
Any thoughts are appreciated.


This ipe wood covers the floor of my terrace. Previous owners have oiled the floor several times.The floor is worn, and doesn’t look good. It’s not possible to use a sort of Exterior Cleaner because of the naighbor below. Cleaning and removing old oil, will ledd to a lot of mess. Is it possible to sanding the floor, or will it destroy the durability and strukturere of the wood. The floor is expoce to both rain and snow.

Art from Maine

Being so hard and strong, sanding will not harm it. I just pressure washed our deck and it looks good as new

Jason Sage

the toxicity of this wood mentioned here is inaccurate. It is highly toxic, splinters in skin going septic almost immediately. Breathing the dust makes one a staff carrier and permanently susceptible to staff infection

Chris baschab

Being a carpenter, and having used a lot of Ipe, I can attest to it’s toxicity. Do not handle the wood without gloves, and never breath the dust.

Chris baschab

The staff infection comment sounds pretty far out though


Are there any recommendations for removing painted graffiti from the surface of this wood?
Our city installed bridges and railings built from this wood in 2016/2017, and we would like to remove the accumulated graffiti – is sanding the best option? Any recommendations as to grit, etc?
Would a graffiti removal machine be too abrasive? Would power washing be likely to work?

Art from Maine

Power washing is worth a try. It will not harm the wood if you spray normally


Do you have papers\articles\data about ipe’s plantation on farms?


Having my non treated grey ipe deck cleaned with mild bleach solution to kill black mold. Do I need to put any moisture/restorative product after? I want to keep the non stained, natural appearance. Can I do nothing and let it “grey up”?


We’ve had ipe decks and a dock at a lakefront home for 20+ years. Search for ipe oil cleaner & sealer online. They sell a specific product. It must be oiled or sealed every 1-2 years, but it looks great in-between. Expensive but worth it to get the ipe-specific product. We tried other general sealers & oils in the past and they didn’t last as long or look as good.


Did you keep your deck grey? That’s what I’m going for and desperately hoping I don’t have to do anything. They now have been cleaned, no furring, feel smooth. Do I really need to do anything more? I’m pretty slothful.

Chris baschab

Yes, and like teak on a yacht, it is the best there is


I would like to use ipe to make an outdoor living room, sofa and coffee table. What finish could I give it?


A penetrating oil sealer such as Penofin “For Hardwoods” is easy to apply and looks great. Needs to be refreshed every year or two, depending on exposure.


Hello, I’m wanting to build some deadeyes, sailboat shroud tensioning blocks, I am wondering which strength metric would be most appropriate for the type of load these blocks will be taking. the blocks are fairly thick, round or triangular and have three or four holes for line to pass between them, creating a purchase system to tension sailboat standing rigging. The grain typically is horizontally oriented when looking at the face of the deadeyes. The rupture needs to be pretty close or the same as the rigging line, So I’m wondering if I should be looking more towards modulus of… Read more »

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Ryan Karakai

Lignums self lubricating properties actually lend themselves to tensioning this device, reducing the ropes friction passing through multiple holes under tension, usually these parts are well greased as well to promote friction free tensioning. We have techniques in rigging to tie these off in a way that they never slip loose once the desired tension is achieved, if this is what you were concerned about with the oily qualities? My biggest concern with lignum is getting big enough chunks to do all my pieces. The breaking strength of the rigging wire will be approx 24000 lbs, and the load on… Read more »

Jason Peters

use lignum vitae

Mario Martins

Why is no mention about Yellow ipe?Eric Meier, do you need a sample?
I know is a bit rarer than red ipe , but I think deserves to be mentioned.

Mario Martins

“Handroanthus albus” is the scientific name. 
Sorry for late reply I only a notification 5 months later.

John M

Are you talking about Ipe Champagne, if so, it is actually Cumaru.

Mario Martins

I’m talking about ” Handroanthus albus”


Can ipe timber be dried in a drying oven?

Aaron Mullen

All Ipe used commercially is kiln dried


Thank you for answer


As a knifemaker I can attest to the qualities of Ipe. It is difficult to saw accurately but it sands easily if you use the right grit of sanding belt and gentle pressure or you’ll burn the surface. The grain characteristics are great especially when you use bookend matching. As for durability you can’t beat it for the price. I’ve never had a problem gluing with epoxy or Gorilla Glue for wood to metal or Titebond 3 for wood to wood. Wiping down with acetone definitely helps. Have just finished a set of chef knives and a knife block for… Read more »


I’ve acquired some ipe and wondered if its ok to use in cutting boards. Is this wood ok to use for that?
Thanks in advance

Sapiens lignum

not if you’re planning to use the cutting board for food. While the frequency of bad reactions is relatively low, I wouldn’t be willing to take the chance, and hope you don’t want to either.


Thank you for the response. Although I was hoping for a different answer, I’ll take your advice seriously and figure out another use for it. Thanks again.

Joel Rampersad

We use tonka bean for cutting boards in the Caribbean.


Your knife edges will be dulled rather quickly. Recommendations for boards are woods between 800-1500 Janka hardness, preferably end grain so the knife can sink in and then when the knife is removed, the wood can close up after the cut. Even lower on the scale, there are very nice larchwood end grain boards if you go that route.

Rhymes Day

We have installed an IPE deck in exterior more than a year ago. It is beautiful with dark brown color and performing perfectly fine.


Got BazilianIpe sample for my future deck, left it outside (sun and some rain) and found a large crack after 3 weeks. Is this real Ipe?


Difficult to know just by words.
Ipe can present all the diffects other woods have. Remember that a decj have to be sealed or protected.


Yes. Ipe does crack.

Jennifer Moore

Can Ipe Wood be used for kitchen countertop?


most likely. should probably be sealed with epoxy or something to avoid potential rot


Is Ipe sustainable?

João Ricardo

It depends, here in Brazil yellow Ipê is one of the most popular Decorative trees used in our streets, but its ocurrence is endandgered in our forests due to illegal extraction.

Last edited 1 year ago by João Ricardo
Jeffrey C Jackson

How do you pronounce Ipe?


Like Ebay but with a “p”. Epay – at least that’s how I pronounce it.


To my knowledge that is the correct pronunciation.


Ipê is a native brazilian word meaning “tree with hard bark” and you should pronounce it I (like the I in Indian) Pê (like in Pension).

Bruce Cosbey

Client wanting to use it IN an 8′ x 8′ spa to create a non floating shallow “Kiddy Pool” Is this a toxic/bleeding condition, and same question if using teak with it as well for final product?

Bruce Cosbey

Mahalo Eric… that’s why the Ipe is part of structure to keep it from floating. Know there might be organic issues conflicting w/ pool chemicals and possible stain of tile? Wish a scientist could weigh in as most concerned about adverse effects for little kids if any, as both dusts are BAD for us, and if it could off gassed ??? into water? Thank you for your reply, mate

Samuel Matthews

I have a client looking for us to heat their IPE deck (not yet installed) for snow melting. Is IPE rated at the same ‘R’ rating as other walnuts?

Aarhan Sharma

I have a client looking for us to heat their IPE deck (not yet installed) for snow melting. Is IPE rated at the same ‘R’ rating as other walnuts?


Watch out with Bolivian IPE for decks…nowhere as trouble free as Brazilian variety. MUST BE SANDED each year to remove checking and then two costs of Tung oil. Wood also moves a lot so expect gaps here and there.

Rick McCoy

I make segmented bowls, among other things. I have a request from a customer for a salad bowl made from IPE. From reading the comments and specs, it looks like a waste of time. Any suggestions?

Rick McCoy

I don’t have carbide turning tools, and it sounds like HSS dulls very quickly, so lots of sharpening after very little turning. I’m also concerned about glue joints holding. In a segmented bowl, there are lots of end-grain glue joints.

Rick McCoy

Thanks Eric. I’ll give it a shot.


have you thought about using epoxy ? I use it with great success with hard to glue woods


Although most/all typical epoxies can/do have issues with UV light, Salt Water, Harsh Weather in general; I’ve recently rediscovered “Resorcinol-based” glue for outdoor/exterior applications – I’ve worked with it a lot in my distant past when rebuilding/repairing Boat Docks in marinas. Wooden Boat Builders use it as well. It’s well known to do extremely well with bonding oily exotic woods such as teak. It’s a two-part system, so typically a powder mixed into a liquid resin, but 2 liquids are also available. NOTE: most Resorcinol ones contain FORMALDEHYDE, so not a good choice for Eating/Food/Bathing applications? I have not dug… Read more »

Carla Kelly, luthier

Wipe it down with acetone where you’re putting glue. The acetone cuts the surface enough to allow a good glue joint. This is a handy treatment for any hard-to-glue joints.


Has anyone experienced an allergic reaction to an IPE wood deck?


This wood is not sustainably harvested. I would like to use it on my new deck but will not do so. https://www.terramai.com/blog/ipe-environmental-sourcing-issues/


Bolivian is sustainable, Brazilian is not. It is very popular and takes a longtime to regrow.

Joel C

looking for recommendations for the best finish to put on exterior ipa. It is protected well from weather & sun. I will have some furniture on it. It does go into the entry of the house

Vaughan Iverson Hollingsworth

Penofin oil. This wood is high maintenance if exposed to weather or sun.


I had been a long-time user of Penofin for hardwood (about 800sq ft of ipe deck/fence 4-17+ years old), but recently learned it tends to darken the wood especially if it’s exposed to full sun. After some research, I’ve now switched to Armstrong Clark for hardwood. Much easier application than Penofin as you can apply in full sun/heat and, if applied correctly, you don’t have to go back and wipe it all down. This was a big deal for me as there were no more oily rags to deal with! My deck was dry to the touch within a couple… Read more »

Rick Turner

When the CITES rosewood ban went into effect a couple of years ago (since somewhat lifted…) we switched from Indian, Madagascar, and other rosewoods to ipe for guitar fingerboards. It’s fantastic in this application, and our customers accepted it instantly. It’s certainly as dense as ebony or the denser rosewoods, and it looks just fine.

Carla Kelly, luthier

I make dundun drumsticks out of it. After four years of work to find a wood that wouldn’t break up when slammed against the iron rings on dundun drums, I found ipe. It’s sensationally hard but not brittle. GREAT wood for durability. I buy cutoffs from deck makers, so there is no waste. I’ve heard that Brazilian ipe never needs any kind of finish when used in decks. Because it doesn’t splinter, it’s great for decks–so you can walk on it barefooted.

Last edited 2 years ago by Carla Kelly, luthier
Ed Goldfluss

We have recently installed an ipe deck. It is really beautiful. We would like to keep it that way. We understand that placing items on the ipe may discolor the wood. We would like to set some planters on the deck. How would you protect the ipe. If we use risers what material would be best rubber, cork, terra cotta, nylon? If anyone has experience with this your help would be appreciated.


I built two decks out of ipe 15 years ago. If you don’t stain the ipe with a uv-blocking stain, it will eventually turn grey. I suppose the areas under your items wouldn’t bleach out as fast as the areas exposed to the sun, but I haven’t had any discoloring of my decking. I applied semi-transparent stain to the ipe to keep it looking great. I have a grill on rollers, two tables, 8 chairs, and a few planters on the decks. I reapply the stain about every 5 years or so on the horizontal parts, making sure to apply… Read more »


Is your IPE Brazilian? If so it weathers beautifully with no finush at all. I’ve been using Brazilian IPE since 2003. Those decks continue to look marvelous. But Bolivian IPE is another story. Must be sanded yearly and oiled. If you want the grey look you must use an ooil with that pigment added otherwise you will have reddish brown.


Hello! I am doing research about wood types that are durable at moist and humid atmosphere and also maybe some water splashes. Any recomandatitions?

Dream Calendars

I have a client looking for us to heat their IPE deck (not yet installed) for snow melting. Is IPE rated at the same ‘R’ rating as other walnuts?

John Doak

Watch out for those supposed “black dots”. IF they are somewhat grouped up to inches apart or less, tben they are Powderpost Beetles. Heat treating the wood will kill the larvae, but watch OUT- they can spread to other woods easily. These beetle’s larvae do the damage, the final stage of which is to bore out the exit hole in the wood, fly around for 1-2 weeks, mate. and then the cycle starts over- new critters back into the wood- for another 10 YEARS bfore re-emerging !!

Malcolm Brennan

Is ipe water permeable?

Don Vanco

Figured pieces of lopacho can be gorgeous!

Don Baldwin

How do you prepare small pieces for gluing?

Jeff H

I’ve started wiping ipe pieces with acetone to remove sawdust and surface oils. It seems to be improving the glue hold.

Steve wallis

Supposedly it is used to line the Panama canal…..
Termites hate it cause it’s so dense, thus wearing out saw blades!


Mild? This wood is one of the most odourous I ever worked with.

Still, is like some tea, but not mild at all.

Pete Hernandez

I totally agree! I seem to notice it a day or 2 after sanding. I don’t know if it is the dust that is left behind. but to me it smell almost musty, like a wet towel that’s been balled up.

William Meyerson

I was a landscaper for a decade in Louisiana. In 1991, I co-founded a landscape contracting company; plus design, installation and maintenance for over 25 years working exclusively in Manhattan, NY. I lived there (and a few years in Queens) most of the time as well. We sub-contracted the work for decking, lattice, pergolas, etc. I found ipe to be stunningly strong and rot resistant. Ipe really wears out blades. It is almost incomparable regarding strength, hardness, and the length of time it can last. When worked with properly, it can be quite attractive, depending on what is called for,… Read more »

EF Slaman

Yep, it’s like machining metal, pilot holes must match the fastener for diameter and depth, screws have to be fastened at a specific torque setting or they’ll snap. The dust is definitely an irritant.

Patty Swanholm

We just bought a house with a 1200 sq ft deck made of IPE. Unfortunately the previous owner stained or painted it. It needs to be refinished now as stained is coming off in areas n also moldy. We would like to return it to original color w a light transparent stain to bring out original color. Having tried a test piece it looks to be dark brown to reddish in color. Is this going to be possible and/or very difficult or impossible? Deck Co is talking about power washing it and sanding it. Any input would be helpful as… Read more »


Ipe is naturally dark reddish in color. I built two decks on my house 15 years ago and sealed them with Sikkens. Mold and mildew grew under the Sikkens after a few years, so I tried to remove it with a very powerful commercial pressure washer with no success. I ended up power sanding everything back to raw ipe, then sealing with semi-transparent Cabot Australian Timber Oil. That was 10 years ago and everything is fine. I just needed to reapply the timber oil to the horizontal pieces after 5 years. If you sand Ipe, I highly recommend wearing a… Read more »

Steve Cook

Try power washing it first . Ipe has a very tight dense grain structure , when it it left to weather it develops a surface with suede like texture . There are oil finishes available for Ipe that will enhance the natural colour .The best maintenance is to keep it clean and wash it with a biodegradable deck wash has some hydrogen peroxide in it , and re oil as req’d. How often you have to do this will depend on your local climate of course .


Almost any stain with Zinc will help prevent mold/mildew/algae/fungus from growing. Also use atleast stainless steel fasteners, should you need to (bronze variants will be very expensive), because iron/steel, even galvanized ones will cause staining (reddish/rust). You should probably sand the whole thing down and get a fresh start, get rid of any old stain as any old adhesives/stains/paints will never hold well onto a new application/coating — think about trying to glue together anything that has old glue on it (and not removed completely before re-gluing).The brazilian ipe i’ve worked with is typically a medium brown in color, though… Read more »

Last edited 2 years ago by R.
Aaron Mullen

Ipe doesn’t take stain or finishes like lacquer due to its density and doesn’t even need to be water sealed this is why the previous owner’s finish is coming off, it was only on the surface. Ipe does polish to a high mirror like shine depending on how much of it’s natural oil it still has. It does “dry out” with age and UV rays can discolor it to and aged/weathered greyish look. UV coatings are recommended for decks and floors. Ipe is extremely hard and very scratch resistant because of it’s density so it takes a very long time… Read more »

Ole Anderson

Guayacan comes from lignum vitae trees. It is a reddis color with hints of yellow in a very tight grain. You will know it because your saw blades will wear out faster than you have ever seen!


I installed open 12 yrs and lasted well

kenny crockett

I live in south Louisiana with high humidity environment and I want to use this on second story deck. It will get direct sunlight pretty much all day. Deck is large (16′ x 33′). I tried yella wood 1 x 6 treated deck boards and they lasted less than 7 years. I’m thinking about using 2 x 6 (or 2 x 8). How hard is this to screw down compared to normal deck boards?
Any thoughts or suggestions would be appreciated.


Ipe is very hard, and pilot holes will be needed.

I made a patio table of Ipe and Tigerwood, that needed 1/4″ lag bolts in the endgrain. It cracked, even with an almost-too-large pilot hole. I had to make a ‘tap’ from a lag screw to tap threads into the wood.

Some decking lumber companies sell Ipe with slots milled in the edges, and stainless clips that fit the slots. Drilling the deck is not required.


I have a client looking for us to heat their IPE deck (not yet installed) for snow melting. Is IPE rated at the same ‘R’ rating as other walnuts?

Rick Liebespach

I am not sure if it is accurate, but I heard it has the same fire rating as concrete… I can believe it.

Larry Schweitzer

Ipe is not related to walnut. In about every characteristic it is about as far away from Walnut as you can get. Calling Ipe “Brazilian walnut” is a marketing tool.

Richard G Wraight

Ipe has the same fire rating as concrete or cast iron!

Larry Smith

When we bought our patio furniture we were told it was ipe. However when one of the chairs fell into the pool it floated, just barely, but it floated. Did we get ripped off?

Rick Liebespach

YES!!! Ipe sinks like a stone!!!

Aaron Mullen

Ipe sinks like a stone, if it floated it wasn’t all ipe


Hi, somebody sold me this wood like Guayacán, but it doesnt look like Guayacán because it is much clear And when I see it closer it has like little black dots. So I began to think he fool me. Please can you help me with your opinion.
Sorry for the English, I’m from Bolivia


It wasnt Ipe, it was Caranda (Proposis) :(

Jerry Giesler

Its Prosopis…