What Is An Ipe Fence? How To Build An Ipe Fence, Pros & Cons

what is an ipe fence explained in a backyard setting

When fence shopping the choices can seem overwhelming.  There’s the wrought iron style aluminum fences, picket fences, chain link fences, and solid wood fences.  Much of the time when you see a solid wood fence it is a cedar fence because cedar is relatively inexpensive and it lasts 10 to 20 years.  But what if you want a solid wood fence that lasts longer and looks beautiful for decades?  You should then consider an ipe fence.  But what is an ipe fence anyhow?

What Is An Ipe Fence?

An ipe fence is a fence made of ipe.  Ipe is also known as Brazilian walnut.  It is one of the hardest of the hardwoods with a Janka rating of 3684.  Janka is a hardness rating for wood species.  For example, a common hardwood used for flooring in the US is White Oak.  White Oak has a Janka rating of 1200, and ipe is over 3 times as hard.  However, Ipe is a difficult wood to work with because it is so hard.  Any cuts made need to be sealed with wax to prevent premature drying which can lead to checking and cracking. 

what is an ipe fence shown alongside pool and backyard plants

What Is An Ipe Fence Advantage?

However, if you go through the trouble to build an ipe fence, you will be rewarded with years of maintenance free fence ownership. We say maintenance free fence ownership because with ipe you can literally leave it be, do nothing to it and it will last for decades. Where a cedar fence will last somewhere between 10 – 20 years, ipe will last 25 years. This is very similar to asking if gunite pools are more expensive than vinyl liner or fiberglass. The upfront cost to build often is, but you will save money in maintenance.

What Is An Ipe Fence Disadvantage?

The only caveat is you had better like the color gray.  Within a few years of installation the warm brown tones of fresh ipe will weather into a teak like gray.  You can prevent this by treating the ipe on an annual basis. If it has turned gray already, you can bring the ipe back to brown if you sand and retreat the fence.  However, this negates one of the major benefits of the ipe fence which is lack of maintenance.

How Much Does An Ipe Fence Cost?

An ipe fence is a more expensive alternative to the typical cedar fence. With that being said, it’s impossible to give an exact cost or narrow range. However, we will help you understand how to find the cost for your project. Finding the cost depends largely on two factors.

First, everyone’s fence is a different size. The size of your fence affects the amount of material used. Second, the cost of materials is ever-changing. If you read this article now and again in 6 months, an ipe fence will cost entirely different amounts. To make matters even more complicated, the price of ipe varies by region of the country. Therefore, the same ipe fence in Boston MA and Austin TX could be much different costs.

How To Build An Ipe Fence

What is an ipe fence made of?  Typically an ipe fence will be made of either horizontal or vertical ipe boards in either a 1” or 5/4” nominal thickness x 4” or 6” nominal width.  These boards are attached with stainless steel deck screws or a hidden fastener system to either ipe posts (very expensive), or pressure treated posts.  These posts are often connected by either an ipe or pressure treated top and bottom rail to give the fence structure some rigidity and to provide a nailing surface for vertical boards if you are building a vertical board fence.

what is an ipe fence pro and con


Some alternatives to ipe are teak, mahogany, massaranduba, cumaru, and many more species.  Of these fence materials, ipe is the hardest and longest lasting.  However, sometimes it makes sense to use one of the other species if the cost of ipe is astronomical.  It makes sense to weigh the long term cost of ownership however. For lack of maintenance, many homeowners comes back to ipe for that reason alone.