How good is ipe wood?

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I’ve been examining installations of materials over the past 35 years, and seen the results of weathering. The Atlantic City Boardwalk has ipe planks and looks great, but the screw connections loosen and require regular, expensive and laborious replacement. What performs better is steel-reinforced concrete planks with a wood texture and color, such as the ones used on the High Line in Manhattan, but I’m aware that the purists, who need to see wood planks, would be upset. The reason why steel-reinforced prefabricated planks are better is that they can be made in a controlled environment, treated against saltwater damage, welded to a compatible connector imbedded in a seawall structure and made to last for centuries.

Boardwalks were built in the 1920s because they were low-cost and could be quickly installed by less sophisticated laborers (and elephants). A new tradition starts somewhere. At such great expense — $44 million in Long Beach — I hope the decision makers recognize the future replacement and upkeep costs. Thanks for your question.

©2013 Monte Leeper. Readers are encouraged to send questions to, with “Herald question” in the subject line, or to Herald Homes, 2 Endo Blvd., Garden City, NY 11530, Attn: Monte Leeper, architect.

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