Brazilian Hardwood 101 - Brazilian Walnut

Brazilian Hardwood 101 - Brazilian Walnut

Brazilian Walnut, the wood that is hard as nails

What natural building material is highly durable, resists flames and doesn't float? It's the Ipê wood, a material that upscale
constructors and interior designers are increasingly incorporating into their plans. But density comes at a price.

The Brazil Tropical Group is GREENGUARD Certified and brings to you a safe way to have the best wood direct in your home!

Tabebuia spp is the scientific name for a genus of trees that produce heavy, hard, brownish-brown woods with vessels blocked by lapachol - a yellow-green substance.

A wood popularly known as Ipê, or here in the US: Brazilian Walnut, pronounced “ee-pay”, is a sturdy hardwood originating in Central and South America. The tree species that produce it is also known as Ironwood.

Species of the Tabebuia genus grow almost everywhere in Brazil and throughout Central and South America and are given particular names in each location: Pau-d'arco, from the Amazon to southern Bahia; ipê, ipê-amarelo and ipê-roxo, in the South and Southeast regions; and piúna, piúna-amarela and piúna-roxa, in Mato Grosso and Goiás. Other popular names are: ipê-do-cerrado, ipê-pardo and ipê-preto.

The height of the Ipê changes according to the variation of the species and the place of occurrence - while the yellow ipê reaches between 19’8” and 45’11” in height, for example, the ipê-do-cerrado can reach 98’5” in height. With 30 closely related species of trees, certain types of it can grow up to 150 feet tall and up to six feet across.

The heartwood and sapwood of the Ipê have different colors: the heartwood is brown or brown, with yellowish or greenish highlights; and the sapwood is yellowish white. The surface is dull, with high density, and hard to the cut.

Why should I use the Brazilian Walnut?

Stronger versions of Brazilian walnuts (and their closely related Guaiacum wood) especially good for creation of outside or inside deckings because of its high durability and insect resistance.

Because it is incredibly dense and hard, Ipê picks up minimal moisture and, typically, experiences only minor shrinkage or movement after installation. After machining, it is so dense and smooth that it rarely splits or splinters. Ipê Heartwood is highly resistant to attacks by termites and decay fungi. It’s in its natural state has a Class A Fire Rating, the same rating given to concrete and steel.

Within ipê wood are natural oils that preserve it; combined with the wood’s exceptional density, you can expect an ipê deck or fence to last up to 50 years without replacement. Tip: Remember to seal the ends of the wood after cutting. When the grain is exposed, the moisture level can change and spread throughout the wood. Applying sealer to fresh cuts slows the process and helps prevent splitting.

Another quality from this wood, is that while Ipe does have some warmth when the sun is out, it does not retain the heat. So, it never gets too hot to walk on, so it’s a great choice for outside decks and areas, especially around a pool, where people would walk barefoot.

What should I use Ipê for?

Ipê wood is very commonly used in woodworking for indoor and outdoor flooring, as well for furniture production. Well-made and maintained exterior decking and siding made from strong and durable Ipê wood can last up to 50 years. Ipê is also commonly used in the creation of stairs or stair handrails. While the interior use of Ipê can have different methods of finish, if used it usually gets air-dried.

Even though it is expensive and hard to work with, Ipê is today very popular for various types of woodworking projects. Here are only some of the common use case scenarios for Ipê wood:

  • Flooring
  • Veneer
  • Tool handles
  • Indoor and outdoor furniture
  • General woodworking use

Ipê kiln dried flooring is recommended for any flooring area that will receive a lot of traffic. Ipê flooring can handle significant wear and tear yet still retain its natural beauty for years to come.


Here are some of the basic characteristics of Ipê wood:

  • Tree size - 100-130 ft (30-40 m) tall
  • Trunk diameter - 2-4 ft (.6-1.2 m)
  • Janka Hardness: 3,510 lbf (15,620 N)
  • Average Dried Weight: 69 lbs/ft3 (1,100 kg/m3)
  • Specific Gravity (Basic, 12% MC): .91, 1.10
  • Crushing Strength: 13,600 lbf/in2 (93.8 MPa)
  • Modulus of Rupture: 25,660 lbf/in2 (177.0 MPa)
  • Elastic Modulus: 3,200,000 lbf/in2 (22.07 GPa)
  • Shrinkage: Radial: 5.9%, Tangential: 7.2%, Volumetric: 12.4%, T/R Ratio: 1.2
  • Odor - Mild scent
  • Workability - Hard
  • Texture - Medium to fine
  • Grain - Usually straight, can be interlocked or irregular
  • Sustainability - Not listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
  • Required growth density - Single mature tree per 300,000 to 1,000,000 square feet (3 to 10 hectares)
  • Drying- Easy drying, with possible mild appearance of checking, twisting or bowing
  • Durability - Untreated it can last more than 25 years with no appearance of decay, rot, or termite infestation. Well-preserved outdoor flooring or other wood objects can survive between 50 and 75 years.
  • Maintenance - Low

And this amazing wood can be found here on our store! Provided with the Greenguard certification, by our partner Brasil Tropical Pisos with the best prices, an amazing quality, and the Brazilian beauty we all want to our home! 

Check it here: Sizes of the Brazilian Walnut

Feb 11th 2022 Iago Martins - BTP

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