Becky and Mike's Ipe Deck

In the fall of 2002, I was fortunate to be hired to build a 400 square foot deck in Santa Fe for Becky and Mike. Using Becky's brilliant and elaborate plan, I constructed fifteen 4 foot by 6 foot "modules" of Brazilian Ipe, a very dense and beautiful hardwood especially suitable for outdoor furniture or decks.

mike and rob with module #3

Each module weighed about 135 pounds so it took both Mike and I to carry the modules and set them in place atop a system of "floating" joists not mechanically fastened to the modified bitumen roof below. Each and every piece of this deck, including the joists the modules sit atop, is entirely removable. That was Becky's insightful idea in the event that the roof may ever need repair or maintenance.

modules in place modules in place

Here are two views of the finished deck showing the modules in place with the perimeter ares infilled up against the walls. The picture on the right was taken from the roof above.

tightly cut

This is a good picture of the last module built, but the first one you see coming out the patio door. The picture shows the construction method of each of the modules. A four piece frame mitred at the corners infilled with fourteen planks all sitting on two 2x6 skids. Each module required the drilling and countersinking of 80 holes for the screws that hold them together.

four corners detail

For a deck material, the beauty and durability of Ipe is unsurpassed. The variety of grain and the warmth of its color make it a desirable material for this application. Ipe is fire resistant, termite resistant and naturally "waterproof", requiring little or no chemical sealing and maintenance. I think for this application, even though you can buy less expensive materials, Ipe far exceeds some of the other commonly used deck material, and because it is harvested in accordance with guidelines set by the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO), it is an environmentally responsible choice.

the little deck that could...

I just had to include this picture on this page (sorry to those of you with slow browsers!). It's a little deck I built for Steve and Christine in Santa Fe. Though small in square footage, this deck was monumental in its design and engineerining, and it was vastly rewarding to me as jobs go. Conceived as a "balcony" outside a newly installed sliding patio door, I think the clients were pleased with the product as it answered their desire for an unobtrusive landing on which to enjoy a cup of tea or a glass of wine while taking in the view of the Jemez mountains in the distance. Thanks to Steve and Christine for the opportunity to help achieve such a satisfying enhancement to their already beautiful home.

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(photo credit for beckpic2.jpg, Becky M., 2002)