There is a small but mighty Ipe wood boardwalk that runs through a revitalized downtown area in New England. This 500’ Ipe boardwalk has weathered the storms – and UV, and snow, and lots and lots of foot traffic. After 5 years of heavy use and weather, here’s what it looks like today.
Ipe hardwood decking was chosen for this high traffic wood boardwalk in Massachusetts.
The Ipe wood boardwalk is a section of the Nashawannuck Pond Promenade Park in Easthampton, Massachusetts, lazily circles the 30-acre pond that borders the downtown. Easthampton has a rich industrial history but, unfortunately, this left the town with multiple abandoned mills and factories. With a successful revitalization project in 2017, including the Promenade, the Easthampton downtown was primed for a renaissance.
Ipe decking newly installed, 2017
The same Ipe decking after 5 years of public use, 2022
Now, the Promenade travels in and out of the natural spaces and urban areas. The Ipe wood boardwalk is part of it, leading people to independent shops and restaurants, new business centers in the old mills, two local breweries and more.
The Ipe wood decking and railing were left unfinished to weather naturally, with no loss of strength.
Natural high-density hardwoods can weather naturally, to a beautiful silvery gray patina. Learn how these premium decking materials keep their inherent strengths even when left to weather unifinished.
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Because it is well known for its slip resistance, scratch resistance, durability and natural beauty, Ipe hardwood is often specified for public walks, boardwalks, and residential decks.- From the July 2017 article, "Ipe Decking at Nashawannuck Pond Promenade Park in Western Massachussets"
The Promenade Park was designed by William Canon, Landscape Architect. The Ipe boardwalk itself was built by Marois Construction. The Ipe boardwalk section bridges the path over a large stream under the road. Marois “expertly installed the Ipe hardwood decking. To ensure perfect alignment and consistent construction, they panelized many of the sections of Ipe decking, fastening the boards with stainless steel screws into the framing and then set them into place."
When first installed, Ipe decking is a lovely range of light to medium brown tones. A UV protectant oil finish for hardwoods is used when first installed but then can be allowed to wear off without reapplying to get a weathered silver gray patina over time. Photo courtesy of Pat Brough.
Ipe hardwood decking was chosen for the durability and resistance to damage professionals and architects have come to expect. This 500’ section of Ipe wood boardwalk is on a main roadside downtown. It is busy all day (and night) with shoppers, strollers, bikes, dog walkers, even kayaks!
The Ipe decking also leads visitors onto the Kayak Launch on the walkway
A huge advantage to using hardwood decking is the high-density strength. Ipe decking was chosen for this commercial project because it can be counted on to keep its strength, insect, and rot resistance. And Ipe has legendary stability for decades of use and even if it weathers to gray, over 20 years without refinishing.
RELATED: Ipe Decking vs. Other Wood Decking
Check out this video of our real time test of Ipe decking compared to other popular wood decking.
You might be amazed at the resiliency of Ipe.
Download the digital Guide to How Woods Weather now and see what different wood decking materials look like when allowed to gray naturally, and how low maintenance they can be.
Beyond the strength, Ipe decking is frequently selected for the minimal maintenance option on any decking or walkway project. Like all hardwood decking, Ipe decking should be acclimated before installation. At install, a coating with UV protectant oil made for high density hardwoods, such as Penofin Hardwood Oil Finish, should be applied to allow the Ipe wood decking material to continue acclimating in place.
Ipe decking boardwalk (with Mt. Tom ahead), 2017
Ipe decking boardwalk, 2022.
But, as that oil finish wears off in the UV and weather, it isn’t necessary to refinish the Ipe. Allowing the Ipe decking to weather naturally, unfinished, gives your project a satiny silvery-gray patina over time.
And since naturally weathering the Ipe decking sacrifices none of the strength, resistance, or stability, it is the lowest maintenance option you can choose for a commercial – or residential- decking project.
RELATED: How To Acclimate Hardwood
We hope you found this article valuable and answered your questions about weathering Ipe wood and other hardwoods. For more help or questions on using Ipe wood or other hardwoods in your next decking project, contact our team, we can help get you started with pricing or answers to questions. Check out these other resources, too.
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