While installing Ipe decking does come with some unique issues, the two basic installation methods are the same as for other decking types: using hidden fasteners or face screwing. Whether you’re using another tropical hardwood species, pressure-treated Pine, or composite decking materials, you’ll have to make that same basic choice. Each option comes with positives and negatives, and at the end of the day, neither is particularly superior. It’s a personal choice, and we won’t try to make that choice for you. What we can and will do for you, though, is let you know the pros and cons of each, in order to help you make an informed decision.
Positive Side of Hidden Fastening Systems
What do our customers love about hidden fasteners? They offer an unblemished face, showcasing the natural beauty of your Ipe decking! Another benefit that many cite is that this method is easier on your tools, since drilling into Ipe (or other tropical hardwoods) can be tough on drills and drill bits.
Instead of drilling into the extremely dense and hard tropical decking boards, you can drill into the decking sub-structure – typically made of softer wood – to fasten the clip into it. (However, if you choose to construct the entire deck out of Ipe, you’ll forego this potential benefit.) Even if you do use a softer species for the sub-structure, you’ll end up having to drill into the Ipe boards, anyway; most clip systems suggest drilling at an angle through the clip and then the bottom half of the decking board, attaching it to the joist beneath it (as seen here in this YouTube video).
Negative Side of Hidden Fastening Systems
Another benefit of hidden fastening systems is that they allow one edge of the decking board the freedom to expand and contract as moisture levels fluctuate; however, that benefit also comes with a down side. An uneven surface can result. Another potential negative that accompanies hidden fastening systems is that this method typically takes more time to install than face-screwing does. In addition, using hidden fasteners requires perfectly level joists; otherwise, you won’t be able to align the clip correctly with the groove.
Positive Side of Face Screws
Contrasted with hidden fasteners, face screws are faster to install. Another positive that comes with face screwing relates to seasonal movement issues. While hidden fasteners arguably leave boards free to twist or warp, face screwing more securely anchors the boards to the joists. And during installation, you don’t have to worry about perfectly level joists; decking boards have natural flexibility that will help provide a secure connection.
Negative Side of Face Screws
The biggest down side of face screws relates to the biggest benefit of hidden fasteners: appearance. Many perceive the exposed screw holes left by this method to be unattractive. A second criticism is that when more than one screw is used across the width of the board, face screwing can prohibit a board from the movement it needs to be able to make; however, that problem can be easily solved.