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In this episode of The Handyguys podcast, The Handyguys discuss Ipe Deck Maintenance, how to clean it and keep it looking awesome.
Ipe Deck Maintenance
Brian’s Ipe deck looked great when it was complete. Eighteen months later, it was looking a bit dirty. The wood was still in perfect condition, no checking, no splits or splinters, it was just a bit dingy. After a bit of maintenance, it looked great again.
To keep the deck looking new, it will take some annual maintenance.
The Handyguys recommend the following maintenance procedure for all decks:
- Hose off any spills, mud, etc as needed.
- Don’t allow any items that rust to sit on the deck (propane tanks, metal furniture, etc).
- Sweep off any leaves
As needed, thoroughly clean and re-oil the Ipe deck. This may be once a year or every other year depending on how much sun you get. Over time, the re-oil step will not be needed as often.
Ipe deck cleaning solution:
- One Gallon warm water
- 1 cup TSP
- One quart bleach (if you do not have mold or algae, you can reduce the amount of bleach)
Use a scrub brush on a long handle and thoroughly wash the deck with the cleaning solution. Rinse thoroughly and let dry completely.
|When the ipe deck is dry (at least a day) then re-oil it. Use either Ipe Oil or Penofin Hardwood Oil|
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187 thoughts on “Ipe Deck Maintenance”
Congrats to going to an audio format as now! Maybe I can get some of my other crew members to listen to you now.
As for the post, I always suggest that people apply a pressure washer to their deck once every 6 months to clean it and remove any possible mud or dirt, that might of accumulated on the deck.
Pressure washers are handy but can also cause damage. You need to be really careful with them. Most normal dirt can be hosed off without a pressure washer.
Hello.. I am a huge fan of your videos… Im getting tired of cleaning my ipe deck.. The part that is covered looks great, a silver gray..I part exposed to the sun gets wet and dries every day, thus getting a very dirty sooty, moldy look on it every 4 months…I use to wash it off with brushes, TSP, and bleach, and now have been power washing it with ZEP…I think I just want to cover it now with a high quality green grass astroturf… your thoughts. I live in Los Angeles
Well, if you like the astroturf look as opposed to wood then go for it. For me, if I didn’t want to maintain it anymore, I would just stop maintaining it. It will eventually just fade to a grey silver color.
Hello Handyguys, I have power washed my deck over the years to clean it and its gotten rougher…Is it ok to sand it and with what grade of sandpaper do you recommend, also do i have to seal it after sanding or just let it fade naturally… appreciate you
hey Rick, yes you can sand it. A 150 or 120 grit sandpaper should be fine. I would NOT use a belt type floor sander, those will be too aggressive. If its not a huge deck, a random orbital sander will be fine. If a larger deck, a pad type floor sander should do the trick.
It is easy to handle and best way for cleaning….
That’s great, may have to employ this on my decking. Suspect it will give the garden a new lease of life for BBQ season!
I had read that you do NOT want oil based products, but the water based ones on the decking since it: 1. resists multiple applications, 2. does a poor job of keeping the UV from the wood, 3. will be sticky after application, 4. will need to be reapplied after 3-6 months.
This is a really great post, especially since I myself am about to renovate my deck. Unfortunately, I live in an area prone to raining especially in the spring. I’m a one man reno team and I can’t do the whole deck quickly enough where I won’t risk rain interference. do you recommend a tarp or shelter solution like http://shelterstructures.com/ ? Your input is appreciated.
No, I dont think I could ever justify the cost of a structure for just refinishing a deck. Any sanding stripping or prep can be interrupted by rain and most finishes can be rained on within a day. You should be able to find a window of time for most any deck. Get some help if you need to do it faster.
Should the same cleaning process be done on a newly installed Ipe deck?
Also any thoughts on Andreson Clark stain on Ipe?
No need to do the bleach.tsp cleaning on the new ipe deck. if there is mud and crud just wash it off with a hose or pressure washer (only if really needed). My initial impressions of the Anderson Clark is that its good, the color is more red than the Ipe oil. I loved the Ipe Oil look on the new deck but it didn’t last as long as I hopped. I have just resigned myself to washing and re-stain every spring. Anderson Clark will be what I use for the next year or two.
How can we prevent leopard water spotting from happening on our 1year old ipe deck?
Rinse with softened water perhaps.
I have several large landings (just above ground) of IPE decking both at my home and beach house and the above instructions were easy enough for both my son and I to rejuvenate the appearance of the both homes decking. They look new as the day they were installed. Thanks Handyguys… your excellent instructions have earned another regular follower.
Just watched your podcast on ipe deck maintenance and have found it helpful. I have an ipe deck that was built by my husband and almost completed in early fall 2011. It is a 2 level deck with stairs and 4 benches and is approx 700 sq feet- in other words huge. Dave was a woodworker and this was his dream deck to build. Difficult wood as you mentioned but he was thrilled with it. Dave’s plan was to give the deck one treatment and then decide if we should let it naturally gray. Sadly Dave passed away before the deck was completed. Last summer I hired a contractor to finish the railings, etc. However I never did treat the deck. This summer I have decided to clean and treat the deck. The ipe wasn’t just gray but dingy with algae, mold (?). I have purchased Messeners cleaner, brightener and UV Wood finish. I have started this huge project myself and am still cleaning the ipe in sections. I am a bit nervous about the cleaner and brightener and have only used some of the cleaner in a small area. The warnings on the label scared me since I have 2 dogs and lots of plants surrounding the deck. Anyway I have been scrubbing away on hands and knees with various brushes and the ipe is getting clean. My question to you is – how do you know when the ipe is properly cleaned? The ipe looks great when wet and lots of crud comes off the ipe when I scrub like a fiend. But when dry, the ipe still can look a bit hazy in spots or brown with gray areas. I have read not to apply the finish unless the ipe is properly cleaned . As you can see I am confused and dont want to ruin this deck that my husband was so proud of. I can see that you used bleach ,etc to clean your ipe but other sites dont recommend bleach. Also have you any thoughts on Messeners UV Finish? (An ipe dealer here in Canada recommended it). I am sorry that my question is so long and would appreciate any advice or further tips that you can give me. Thank you so much!
Jane – Make your own cleaner/brightener. Buy some TSP at the hardware store and follow the instructions for deck cleaning on the box. Its just the TSP soap, some bleach and water. That will clean up any alge, mold, etc it will also help you get off any dirt or crud. I havent had an issue and its MUCH cheaper than commercial cleaners. You can reduce the ammt of bleach if you dont have much alge.
I found it best to use a stiff bristled broom to scrub it in. Let the cleaning solution do its thing. Then hose it off. You could also use a pressure washer after scrubbing with the cleaner.
How do you know its clean? It will look clean, you wont see alge or dirt.
What you are likely seeing is wood that has started to grey out. The only way to make it look like the day it was installed is to sand it.
I would just go ahead and finish cleaning and then apply Ipe Oil or a similar product, I just used one from Armstrong Clark http://www.armstrongclarkstain.com/hardwood-and-ipe-stain that has a bit of red mahogany color in it. I previously used Ipe Oil http://www.ipeclip.com/deck-oil/ipe-oil.html
I just wanted to say thank you for your help regarding my ipe deck. It has taken a few weeks for the weather to cooperate and get the deck cleaned. Today I finished applying the Messmer’s UV Plus oil finish and the deck looks good. Your help and advice gave me the encouragement to get this job done. Thank you.
We have tongue and groove ipe on our screened porch. Last years application of Penofin never dried thoroughly it’s still a little sticky. I want to clean and re oil but I’m not sure if your soap recipe will work for that. Any suggestions. Also I don’t know what TSP is. Thanks for your reply I will keep you updated. Jay
The TSP solution may clean it. Its cheap and wont do any damage. TSP is Tri Sodium Phospahte you can get it in the paint section of the hardware store. There is deck cleaner instructions on the box.
I had Ipe decks put on my house on the beach on Long Island in New York about 18 months ago. They were never stained and they have turned grey. The house is right on the ocean. The house is on three level house with decks one or two decks on every level. There are probably over 1000 square feet of decking.
Do you advise treating the wood to maintain it and if so what should I do to it?
If I do want to stain it, is it too late and if not, what would be needed?
Thank you so much for your help.
If you like the grey look then do nothing. The Ipe will out last you and I. Stain for looks only. Personally, I wouldn’t do it at this point. It will be a yearly maintenance chore once you do it. Enjoy the deck.
We have just moved into this house that is about 10 years old. I just learned that we have this Ipe decking and am now in the middle of cleaning it. I can’t believe the difference in color once cleaned. I have no idea if it has ever been treated. I love the look of the color once cleaned and I’m wondering if it’s too late to start treating it or if I should just leave it to go gray? The deck faces North and doesn’t get a lot of sun exposure. I’m not able to clean through the slats of wood and there is still a lot of algae that you can see. If you don’t recommend staining how often should I clean? and how long before it goes gray again? Thank you.
Its not too late to start treating it, the color will last longer but it will be a yearly task. Get it as clean as possible, maybe use a pressure washer to help with the algae between the boards.
Use something like ‘Ipe Oil’ or Penofin which will darken and enrich the look. Here are some comparisons.
I have used Ipe Oil and Armstrong. I though the Armstrong imparted too much red color. I may try the Penofin.
Another question…. if we decide to treat it and later on decide not to I’m assuming it would just go back to gray? Would there be a difference in the wood if we treat it and then decide not to do it a few years down the road? I’m just wondering if we should start or not. Also how do you know if you need to sand it or not? 1/2 the deck is covered within a screened porch which the wood looks much better than the exposed part of the deck.
Yes, it will turn back to gray. You will have uneven areas for a while, more sun the faster it will gray. Cleaning with bleach/tsp (recipe on the tsp box) will even things out. Sanding will also even it out.
Sorry for all of the questions. So what if I cleaned the deck with a metal wire brush? Will that ruin the wood? I also think im not going to treat the wood and let it go gray again. I just want to make sure it will be ok because of the brush I used.
I wouldnt use a wire brush. Just clean with TSP. (Try the bleach/tsp recipe on the TSP box) and use a nylon scrub brush. Use a hose or a pressure washer to rinse clean.
Hi – what a helpful site!
We just discovered that our conservatory greenhouse floor is ipay. The greenhouse was destroyed in Hurricane Sandy and a new one was built in its footprint. The floor will have little exposure to the elements, though sometimes rain comes in from the top vents. Otherwise, it’s like a casual sunroom with some gardening accessories around. I expect we will have some meals in it; and read and relax a bit in the cooler weather. In the warmer weather we’ll probably just use it to house gardening equipment.
From your advice on this column, it sounds like we should just clean it and let it be. Besides cleaning with your suggested TSP solution, any other advice? Is sanding the floor necessary for a casual space?
No need to sand it unless there are rough spots, splinters or scratches you want to remove. If I wanted to have that rich wood furniture look I could clean and sand a bit then oil finish.
Thank you! Another question: there are two square holes in the floor where the original greenhouse posts used to be. I was thinking of simply patching with some wood and leaving be – perhaps there will be an indoor/outdoor rug to cover. Any thoughts on that? Appreciate the guidance!
Sure, you could patch it. See if you can find someone putting in an Ipe deck near you and ask for some scraps.
I am ready to put down my ipe decking did you oil all four sides first? Planing on using Ipe Oil and Ipe Seal for the fresh cut end grain
How did you remove the factory end grain wax seal that is sometimes on the top finished side if the ipe? I have boards with small wax spots five or six inches from the ends
Is it ok to spot sand out imperfections or do you need to sand the entire board.
Thanks for the great info.
I did not oil the decking. I did oil my rails. I didn’t oil the decking because I was using plugs that would need sanded. I used the end grain sealer on all cut ends, I applied over any factory applied end grain sealer. You can try sanding out any end grain sealer that is on the surface of the board. You can spot sand.
Just reading perusing your website and find it very informative.
My question is : Can the cleaning solution you suggest be safely used to clean a dock made of IPE wood? The solution would naturally end up in the lake and we certainly do not want to do anything to harm the lake.
If it shouldn’t be used in this circumstance, what would you suggest?
Thank you for all your information.
TSP is Phosphate, a common cleaning agent but also used in fertilizer. Phosphates can cause algae growth which can upset a natural balance of nutrients in water. In most cases the phosphate will be diluted and filtered out in the ground and not cause an issue. If the rinse water will flow directly into a sensitive body of water you may want to just try to clean with water only (pressure washer).
There are some other sites that say that the bleach will damage the IPE and should never be used. I put down IPE because I want a long term good looking deck. Is there any concern with the bleach damaging the IPE or is that a non-issue due to the short period of time it is on the wood, as long as it is rinsed completely?
I would be curious as to the source of the warning against bleach. I have used it without issues.
I am about to have an Ipe deck installed. New boards. I cleaned them with Penofin Stage one cleaner, let dry for a day then sealed with Penofin oil. The wood turned very red in colour to the point where my wife does not want the deck finished. I see lots of pictures where the Ipe is a nice brown colour. Is it the Penofin that turned the wood red? Thanks
Some Penofin products may have some color. It will fade within a year then you can apply something different.
Hi, Thank you for all of your help. My very large back deck has quite a bit of tree sap. Today, I used a pressure washer and tried scrapping it up; a lot of the big chunks came off, but now there are big patches white smeary sap. I assume my deck needs to be sanded to remove the rest of the sap, would it be better to wait and sand on a colder day so the sap is hard? Thank you for your ideas.
You could try scrubbing with turpentine (the real stuff) while the sap is soft.
What are your thoughts on using Australian timber oil?
I like it in general. I haven’t used it on my Ipe deck though. I have used it on mahogany outdoors and it looks good for quite a while.
I have used only Cabot Australian Timber oil on my Ipe deck and it works great. I didnt get enough time for two coats of oil after the deck was put in…late in the season and ran out of warm dry weather here in PA. This very late spring I sanded it to even out some rough spots with an orbital sander and 60 grit.
Then I did the Unthinkable…laid down a coat with a roller cut to width of one board. Some say it will go on too thick and be sticky. I waited for 3 nice hot days in a row and laid it down on the first. Took me 4 hours to do it though.
Let me say…the wood is gorgeous and I marvel at it every time I walk by the window. It never looked this good last year after the one coat. I used the natural color Australian Timber oil and the color is a deep brown with a slight red tint which I think comes from the wood. I kept every one off of it for those three days and it’s not even tacky…perfect job, perfect look. Let me know if you want pictures…I can email you a few.
Yes, send some pics to [email protected] I’ll try and add them here.
Mike awesome looking deck
Thanks guys…we love it!
Sorry if this is a repeat question. Our ipe deck was installed here in Colorado late last fall and the contractor didn’t seal all the end cuts. Here it is spring, and we have a fair amount of checking. My wife is convinced we should seal the ends with the wax sealer. Is it too late for that?
Sealing may minimize further checking but may be impractical where you have butt joints but exposed ends should be easy to access and seal.
Ipe deck installed last fall. This week we washed the deck. Next day applied Ipe Oil (by DeckWise) on a warm sunny day. 12 hours later it rained. Now deck was “leopard spots” all over it. What can we do to get rid of the spots?
I had a bit of that due to a late in the year application in 2014. Wait for a few nice days, try to rub some out with a rag and a little oil…if not, run another coat on it over the whole thing…it worked for me!
Hi We had tons of snow this year and our ipe deck is covered in mildew. How often can you safelky powerwash? I feel the wood splintering a little and it feels rough. We don’t want to oil and have to do yearly maintenance. Deck is huge 1000 square feet Thanks
Power washing does raise the grain a bit. Try just cleaning with TSP/bleach, the recipe is on the box. You put it on with a scrub brush and hose it off. That will clean off any mold. I think its safe to use a power washer once a year if you are not aggressive and don’t gouge the wood.
My ipe deck has grayed and I want to re-stain it to bring it back to life. I don’t want it gray. There are black stains on the deck from furniture and an outside heater. How do I remove the black marks before I stain? I tried muriatic acid but it didn’t work. Help!
The acid is one way. More commonly “wood bleach” is used to remove such stains. You could also sand the stains away. If you just clean and re-oil the deck they will be less noticeable but still present.
We live in MA and just finished putting in a new IPE deck. Now 2 weeks later we just finished applying Penafin. Love the rich redish color that it turned and still shows all the beautiful grain. We noticed some of the wood seems to have small splits and is rough in spots. Why? Will the oil eventually correct that? I don’t think the contractor put anything on the boards before installing (except sealing the end cuts) since the beauty of this dense wood is that you supposedly don’t have to do anything to it. Should it be sanded to smooth it out. Do I need to wait?
if the end grain was properly sealed then the splits will not get worse. Any sanding should have been done before applying the oil finish. if you sand now you will then need to touch up the oil finish and it might not blend well and may not look right. I would wait until next spring when you re-oil the deck. Sand any rough spots, clean then re-oil. Good luck. if you want to send a picture or two I’ll add them to the comments. mail to [email protected]
Hey guys I am in the process of stripping an Ipe deck. It has Sikkens on it and then Australian timber oil. I applied the stripper with a garden sprayer as recommended and as it was left on for a few minutes it turned the wood black. Is that normal? I scraped off what came up and power washed it and the boards remain black. What should I do from here? Thanks for your help
I’m not sure what to tell you. I once tried a stripper product and noticed it was turning stuff black as well. I stopped before I got to deep. Also, for others reading this, the stripper can damage painted balusters or other hardware.
I would try cleaning with the bleach/tsp mixture. The recipe is on this new post. https://handyguys.wpengine.com/4080/annual-ipe-deck-maintenance/
Just installed a new IPE deck we want the deck to turn gray as it ages, by putting the ipe oil on it will that stop the graying process and is there a product to use to maintain the deck and still achieve the gray look
Don – If you like the gray then do not oil the deck. No need. Just let mother nature take its course and don’t use any product. Congrats!
Congrats on getting audio and video. I love the color of your deck and have been considering using the iron wood for a deck myself. The maintenance definitely pays off and I like that it does not have to be done very often.
New ipe deck, bleaching from sun. Unreliable contractor, so really appreciate your column. Thanks.
Hi there. I cleaned my Ipe decking using a pressure washer. It needed cleaning as there was some green patches where the garden furniture had been sitting. I did it while it was raining and now it has left horrible lap/patchy marks on the wood. Am I best to leave it and wait for it to change over time or can I sand it back a little to get rid of the lap/patchy marks?
I wish I had found this website before I did anything.
A light sanding, 150 grit, should do the trick.
We installed an IP deck last year. We followed a friend’s advice and applied several coats of diesel to it. This year the wood looks very dry and has cracked in a few places. Is this normal or could this be due to the diesel? What would the best way to handle the dry wood at this point?
I have never heard of applying diesel but I suspect it acts like many other oil based products. You should re-oil it, I would use a commercial product made for this purpose. Ipe Oil, Penofin or something else. Or, you could just leave it as is if you like the grey look.
I’m not sure what qualifications the knucklehead had that gave you that advice but don’t ever do that again. Tell them to take a chemistry course first! Any petroleum fuel product is going to act like a desiccant and leave wood looking very dry. Diesel can be used to cut thicker oils and even as a good cleanup for spilled oil in the garage.
I would use TSP to clean the deck first to remove any detergents left behind after the diesel evaporated and possibly use a power sprayer at a distance so as not to gouge the wood. Lay down your first coat of Ipe oil, or the like,with a roller to really get it on heavy before winter sets in. Make sure you have three good days in a row with warm temps and no rain. So you can wash in the morning and let it dry and allow the deck to get good and warm before applying the roller coat. The two days after are to allow the wood to absorb and DO NOT let anyone on it for the two days following application.
I have a 4 year old Cumaru deck. I have applied Cabots Australian Timber Oil with Natural finish color twice and it lasts a year at best before it fades to almost nothing. The vertices surfaces hold the oil a bit longer but the deck surface is almost totally gray in about a year. My question is using a product with a tint in it last longer. Would there be an issue if I go to another oil based product such as IPE Oil, Armstrong Clark with the new product blending with the Cabot brand which I will never use again on this type of deck? Do you have a favorite stain for Cumaru? I also have been hearing talk about dye’s for Cumaru have you heard anything about that? Let me know your thoughts. Thanks and take care!
I tried the Clark product thinking the same thing, more color would be better UV blocking which would help it last longer. Nope, in my traffic areas with direct sun it went gray as quick as anything else. Then, when it was time to re-oil i had areas I needed to clean off the clark tinted stain so i have an even finished product.
I have a new IPE deck and watched your youtube video where you mentioned that you decided to go/try Penofin oil stain on your deck, as IPE oil could not be patched. I would like to hear your feedback about Penofin, are you happy with the result, is it better than IPE oil ?
What is your ultimate recommendation, shall we oil stain the IPE deck or leave to grey ?
i applied the Penofin for hardwoods in the spring of this year, its now mid September. I’m not thrilled at how the penofin has aged. As I recall, Ipe Oil grayed, Penofin seems to turn a bit blackish on its way to gray. I’m in direct sunlight all day and I know that is the toughest environment for keeping the color.
If you are okay with the gray then do nothing. The oil is mainly aesthetic.
many thx for the quick answer and appreciate the work you are doing ! I was about to pull the trigger on Penofin, but based on your answer i will let the deck gray out. thx Brian.
Have you ever tried or heard about people trying Penofin Marine Oil on a IPE deck? If so was it the red or blue can and what were the results? Loved the Video but need to really get into the care staining/oiling the deck. Nobody really gets deep into the topic. Thanks
We put our deck in in June, here by the lake in MA. Oiled it with Penofin transparent oil. Loved the rich mahogany look. Still looks great! Might do it one more time before winter because it is the 1st year. Wish I had done a little more research on checking on quality of the IPE that I got because I hear the there are many levels of quality. Some of the boards are thicker than others and some very much darker, almost black. Despite all that, we love the new deck. I researched composite decking material and previously had PVC decking. I found nothing good. Many companies are not honoring their warranties, blaming the installer, and there are many suits out there.
We laid a new IPE deck and sealed all cut ends with an IPE end sealer as we went along. The end sealer has seemed to bleed through a bit at each butt joint. How can I clean these up before applying the final coat. Its seems to have bled all the way through.
You may be able to sand it off the visible spots.
We cleaned and oiled our new IPE deck at the end of June. I think I will need to clean and put another coat on before winter since many areas, especially the sunny spots have grayed some. How cold can it get at night before it is too cold to use Penofin?
They say 45 Degrees for application temp. I would take that to mean do not apply if the temp will drop below 45 degrees before its dry.
Australian timber oil states no lower than 50 degrees for 48 hours.
I hade my ipe deck for 10 years now. Even if I cleaned and re-oilded ever 12 months the harsh morning sun would turn the stain black. I decided sand it down because not even cleaning and presure washing was getting the black out. It has been 8 months and half the deck turned almost as dirty without any products. I am just about to clean it again and I am hoping it will clean much easier since it was not re-oilded. Do you recommend anything at all for it to turn silver gray without half the deck turning black and dirty? Should I just be cleaning it more often?
I have had good results cleaning with TSP and bleach. The recipe is on the box. Good luck
i installed an IPE deck 6 years ago and have never put any finishes on it… Half of the deck is covered and the other half is exposed to the LA sun morning and afternoon. The deck under the cover is a beautiful silver grey and the exposed deck is dirty with soot and mold all over it…. Can i just power spray it a few times a year as i prefer it to go natural…I love the way it looks under the cover but the sun exposed part looks orange, dirty black and ugly… What would you do?
Lightly power wash it may be all it needs. If you need more I would try washing with some TSP cleaner. If you need to me even more aggressive try the TSP/bleach mixture suggested on the back of the TSP box. I would not use a commercial deck cleaner or commercial deck brightener.
My client hs an IPE deck that got stained when residual chemical was left on her deck after it was pressure washed. Can the checmical staining be removed by the ISP and bleach as you mentioned, and then oiled? Or are chemical stains permanent?
Maybe. First, just try water alone, lots of water. if that doesn’t work try the TSP by itself. Then try the TSP/bleach mix. if none of those then sanding may make it go away.
Our deck is two year old and we have oiled it with messmer every 6 months. Because of this it had darkened. It looks good but we have lost the rich wood grains like when it was lighter. To return it to the original tone, which was much lighter, do we need to sand it first?
No need to sand first, but the TSP/bleach method will get you close. Sanding AFTER cleaning with TSP/bleach will make it like new but may not be needed.
I have an Ipe deck and the installer sank the screws and covered them with color putty rather than plugs. Every year, some of the ‘putty plugs’ pop out and I just replace them with color putty again. Would you recommend replacing them with wood plugs instead? If so, where do I get them? Are they made of the same Ipe wood, or do they need to be stained to match?
You can buy Ipe plugs but they require a very specific hole size. Measure carefully your hole and see if any will fit. Standard sizes are 1/4″ and 3/8″ here http://amzn.to/1q2bqnz
Just finishing an IPE deck at my daughter’s house, built over our mild 2015-16 New England winter, and plan to clean and stain deck with Penofin Hardwood oil soon. My question is should we use the same clean/stain techniques for the IPE rails and post sleeves, or are there any special considerations for the vertical pieces and rail sides? The balusters are black aluminum. Thanks for the great podcast and Q+A info.
I use the cleaner on everything. I too have black aluminum balusters. The hardest part is keeping the penofin off the balusters. I found it was inevitable and just keep a rag handy and wipe off all my drips.
We had an ipe deck installed 4 years ago on the south side of our home which gets lots of sun in the afternoon. The wood was left natural and has turned a silver grey until a few months ago when black spots began showing up on the wood. There is a underdeck ceiling which has a water drainage system around the perimeter of the ceiling and there is a foot of air space between the ipe and the metal ceiling. Can someone please tell me why mold is forming on this deck and how should it be treated? Thank you.
Try just hosing it off, if thats not enough then try washing it with TSP cleaner alone and a scrub brush, if thats not sufficient then TSP with bleach will definitely clean it. The recipe is on the back of the TSP box.
I cleaned my ipe deck with the tsp and bleach like you recommended. I did one half with the full quart of bleach because it gets less sun and did the other half with 2 cups of bleach added. The side with the full amount of bleach looks brown, the other part with the lesser amount of bleach came out silver and looks great. My question is – how do I get the two sides to match up? I may have left the solution on the side with the larger amount of bleach longer as well. I cleaned it with a hand brush as well as a brush on a handle. I am not planning on oiling at all.
They will naturally even out over time. Maybe a couple months. I would suggest just enjoy the deck and not worry. Schools out for summer!
The TSP and bleach solution worked unbelievably well on our ipe deck. We’ve used different products over the years and nothing cleaned it like this. Thanks! Oh, and it’s a lot cheaper, too.
Yep! Thanks for taking the time to comment.
I bought a home with a ipe deck it is grey and I’ve live here 2 1/2 years now. In the summer it’s great. In the winter months the boards must be placed to tight because it’s like walking on hills and valleys in 3 specific areas the boards raise right up and then in the summer they all settle down. Do you think if I oil the boards this might happen?
I don’t think oiling it will have any effect on the movement.
The Handyguys are correct. Oiling it will have no affect. Ipe is so tightly wound internally that contraction/expansion are minimal. Assuming it’s a side to side problem and not two butts ends that are causing the problem…It sounds to me like the stringers are heaving either from a small ice jam if it’s freezing outside to just the stringers themselves contracting in the cold. I believe the installer just didn’t space the boards correctly. If it were me, I would take out the middle board or two in the jamming area and shave a tad off each side…like maybe a sixteenth of an inch, and reinstall. If you’re not capable or don’t have the equipment, call a lumberyard or someone with a table saw…DO NOT attempt to rip one sixteenth of an inch off of one of these or it will most likely be all waves along the edge.
Thanks Mike – A tablesaw if its an issue across the width will do the trick.
Thank you so much. This is great advice. I appreciate your help. Christine.
We haven’t cleaned our IPE deck for at least 3 years. We pressured washed after letting vinegar sit on it. There is still the blackish residue from lots of tree pollen having settled on it over these years. I will def. try the TSP/bleach/water solution. We originally used the Australian Timber oil in clear, but I really love the darker colors so thought I would used the mahogany color this time. Will I be sorry when this starts to come off/fade? Or should I stick with the clear oil to minimize the appearance of splotching? Also, I see several comments where people have applied 2 coats of the Timber Oil. We read that you shouldn’t apply a second coat if water beads up on the first coat as this will make the surface very slippery and somewhat dangerous. Thanks for your input!
The tsp with bleach will certainly take care of the black gunk. If you are talking about the Mahogany colored cabotts Australian timber oil. I havent used it on my Ipe deck but have used it on another outdoor project. I think it should be fine. I stay away from traditional stains for Ipe.
I am about to install an IPE deck in Aruba in the Caribbeans. I just got the wood, it looks great. The deck will surround a pool, for now it has chlorine, maybe later we’ll change it to salt. The wood is not flat, it has striations. What do I need to use in terms of oiling, my choices might be limited though? Should I do 6 months maintenance in the beginning considering the sun there? Aruba is very close to the Equator, not so much rain, it is not a tropical climate. Should I oil it first on the back of the planks as well?
Thanks in advance.
Personally – I would be inclined to NOT oil it at all. It will turn gray and then not need any maintenance beyond cleaning as needed. If you do oil it, use Ipe Oil or Penofin for Hardwoods.
Thanks, I found Penofin for Hardwoods on the island and I will use it every 6-7 months in the beginning. Another question is what should I use to seal the cuts? Can I use the same Penofin or do I need something else? I believe the wax will melt in that climate. There are 3 choices of color for Penofin, clear, ipe and redwood. I will probably try to use either ipe or clear, does somebody know anything about the difference between these 2 choices on Ipe?
Thank you again.
Natural is fine. I suppose the Ipe color may have some additional pigment in it, i haven’t tried it. For the cuts, Use Anchorseal if you can http://amzn.to/2aVY60C It wont melt.
Power washing severely damaged my ipe deck, leaving black gouged streaks. Can deck be sanded? would greatly appreciate any suggestions.
You must be careful with power washers. You must have used a very fine tip with very high pressure…
Yes, the deck can be sanded.
Yes, you can sand. Be careful with pressure washers.
My contractor used a pressure washer on my 20 year old Ipe deck. Looks great but now is rough and my 2 year old granddaughter got multiple splinters on her hands and feet. We tried using a broom to smooth it out. Didn’t really work. What do you suggest we do to smooth it out? Sand it?
Yes, sand it. Try maybe a 150 grit in an orbital sander. Then finish it with Ipe Oil or Penofin.
I meeting with my contractor today about removing my ipe deck to re space it, clean, sand and oil before replacing it. My husband prefers anything but the silver look so we are curious if painting ipe is an option? If nor, what oil is best to keep it darker?
Any coating that creates a film (paint, solid stain) will be a maintenance nightmare. Ipe with oil finish is already hard enough in that it requires annual maintenance to keep it from looking gray. To keep it looking darker longer keep it out of the sun. A pergola or sun shade would help I suppose.
I would think switching to a paint would be a bad idea. First off…why cover up one of the most expensive and beautiful woods with paint? Secondly, if the Ipe has ever been oiled, I would think the paint would eventually lift off. Even with an oil based primer and paint, covering the pores is going to raise the internal temperature of the wood and possibly seep oil thus lifting the paint…
Thanks for or the information. Is there ipe oil you suggest?
Right now I like Ipe Oil http://amzn.to/2aJqW0O and Penofin http://amzn.to/2aJrqE1
Thanks again. I’m going to use it. I’ll take before and after pics and send them to you.
We put our IPA deck on last June. After a month we washed and sealed it using Penofin clear. We loved the nice mahogany red that matched the cinnamon color of our house. We washed and treated it again before winter and then washed and treated it again this spring. It is much darker all over and very dark in some areas. I think we may just let it go to silver, which would go with our black steel railing and granite Chimney. I think it would need to be sanded and sealed again to keep it the lighter cinnamon color…too much work.
Today cleaned pie deck with Olympic dec cleaner and it had dried very spotty. Do you know why? It is about 2 yr old and never treated just cleaned in spring but very shady yard and there was heavy Mold and mossy build up. I got rid of that but no spots. Perhaps I did not get all off?
I would ask Olympic. I use my own cleaning formula. See here https://handyguys.wpengine.com/4080/annual-ipe-deck-maintenance/
We have recently had a cumaru deck built here in central Illinois. It was professionally sanded and then finished with Ipe oil. It is beautiful. Approximately 3 weeks after the oil was applied we returned home after being away for 5 days and find several areas that appear to be mildewed. I took a wet rag and attempted to see if it would wipe off but it did not. The oil was applied after being sanded one day and then applied the next. Was it improperly prepared? Is this common so soon? Do not want to just let it gray – love the beautiful tones the IPE oil enhanced. The wood finishing guy is coming by Monday. I did contact the company we bought the cumaru from and he said a “quick power wash should be enough to take care of it”. Any suggestions or thoughts?
It sounds like it was correctly installed and materials correctly applied. Just try to hose it off first. Second, I would just try a bit of dish soap and a scrub brush to clean it. If that doesnt work, maybe a power washer if its bad.
We have an Ipe deck that is 10 years old. Over the years we have used Penofin Oil (for Rosewood) 3 times. The last time was last year and we power washed it first. It did not look that good this year. We used a deck stripper and left it set overnight. The next day we power washed it. We have several board that look black and many areas with white marks in all different directions. We have spoken to a few professional deck people. Two of them recommended steam cleaning the deck. One pro guy would then use paint brush applying Arbor translucent (water based). The other pro guy would use lambswools applying Australian Timber Oil (Mahogony Flame) to perhaps hide some of the marks if they do not come out. No guarantees from either pro guy. What do you suggest and recommend. We live in NJ and temps will start dropping below 50 degrees within the next couple of weeks.
I would clean it with the TSP recipe listed in the post above. That should do the trick.
Our Ipe deck is covered, but several years old, so it has turned gray. We are happy with the color, and don’t want to apply stain. I’m wondering if there is a way to clean the stairs and edges of the deck where it is exposed to the elements and turned black. Pressure washing doesn’t wash this off. We have not tried tsp. Is this the correct product to use? Thanks.
TSP with bleach would do the trick. The recipe is on the TSP box.
Hi! I need help! My Ipe deck had a jacuzzi sitting on it for about 8 years. There is now a very noticeable black staining. Contractors tried to sand it out but the stain is deep. Will TSP remove this stain? The entire deck was sanded and oil with Ipe oil. Do we need to also seal it? TIA
TSP wont remove the stain. TSP is essentially pure concentrated soap. i would try Oxalic acid (Known as wood bleach). You can get it at Amazon here http://amzn.to/2lmmXQF Good luck.
I moved into a house that has a large IPE deck. I dont think its been taken care of since at least 2008. Its been a real pain to get all of the mold off. It was very thick in areas. I tried 3 differnt solutions from the hardware store and it didnt work well. Even with a 3100 PSI pressure washer it wouldnt come off all the way. I tried the TSP and bleach and so far its doing a better job but still in some areas its being a pain. I may have to invest in a harder bristle brush. I have done 2 full day sessions and only 75% done. How many days of dry weather do i need to apply the penofin oil? temps?
I would give it 24 hours of dry sunny weather. Don’t rush it, water and oil do not mix. As far as temp, Penofin says a minimum of 45 degrees and does not specify an upper limit. You can leave the bleach/tsp solution on the deck longer and scrub more for tougher stains. For small areas with really dark stains you could try “wood bleach” http://amzn.to/2naBDjL Good luck.
I agree with the handy guys but I would go with straight Clorox or a 50/50 minimum and let it soak especially spraying between the boards. Gently hose off and then power spray. Here’s where we differ…. I would let it dry for a couple days and then sand it. The power spraying is going to raise some of the grains and the splinters you get from Ipe are tiny…you can barely see them and all they do is itch. Sand it and oil it and keep people off of it. It may take a couple seasons of care to make this thing look good but don’t rush it. Please don’t use a wire brush…it will be a regret you can’t fix!
If you sand it, use a coarse paper. 60 grit or 40 grit. If its a large area you can use a vibrating floor sander. If you go to a fine paper you will effect the takeup of the oil.
Have Ipe deck that has weathered to grey. Love the grey but there are a few areas that are protected from the sun and is still the deep mahogany color. Is there some solution that would even out the color to grey?
Dan – I’m not aware of anything that will speed up the gray. Time will eventually do it.
The deck has been on many years. The sun doesn’t hit on some places because we have three foot eves and a roof over the front door. Just a thought for future Ipe deck owners. If there are spots that shade and never have sun, weather the boards first before you use them. Can’t find anything to grey out sunless spots to match the rest of the deck.
Do not want to remove grey color, we want to make the areas not reached by the sun grey to match rest of the deck.
We want the natural color to turn grey. Some areas are not exposed to the sun.
My IPE deck is about 8 years old. I have power washed and stained with Penofin. I was thinking about trying to clean with a product called Wet it and Forget it. What do you think?
I dont know about that product. Be careful around painted surfaces with any cleaner, some can strip paint. I would be curious how well it works compared to the TSP/bleach recipe on our site. Also a price comparison would be interesting too.
I’m not so sure ethanol would be good for the finish and , from what I’ve read, it doesn’t say anything about it being OK for use on a stained or oiled surface. I would email the company and let them know of your intentions.
I have a new IPE deck. I read on one website that I should clean the new wood and use a brightener before staining in order to remover the sheen. Does this seem right to you? Thanks.
Nah – I dont see any need to use brightener on new from the mill wood.
I have a 10 year old Ipe deck that requires annual powerwashing and sealing with a clear sealer. It gets a lot of sun from the western exposure and, thus, the sealer fades after about 2-3 months. Any suggestions other than sanding it down and letting it go gray? I’m not sure if there have been any new products introduced in the market that might lessen the maintenance interval.
Handyguy Brian is in the same boat. Nothing new.
My IPE floor is only a month old and is the flooring of a covered living space. I have used a hose with high water pressure several times and I cannot get the muddy shoe prints off of the deck. Will TSP clean that off? Thanks so much.
It should, I would probably use Pine Sol and a scrub brush and then rinse with water. Pine Sol is more a general purpose cleaner for kitchen floors, etc.
I have a client that we installed a Ipe deck and sealed with Deck Wise Ipe sealer last fall. The deck is still beautiful but the client wants to know what to use for a simple light cleaning. Just some dirt and dust.
Light cleaning – A broom or a hose. Keep it simple, nothing special needed for light cleaning.
Hi I had s contractor install an ipe deck 4 weeks ago. Looks beautiful. Didn’t do anything like oiling or sealing cuz love the natural color of it. But I want it to stay this color rather than turn gray, will a clear sealer make it shiny or darker? also every time someone eats on deck and food falls on floor it gets a stain like an oil stain spot and it wouldn’t come off. I tried using Scott’s outdoor cleaner which my contractor recommended but didn’t work. Is the TSP cleaner for these oil spots? Does it come with bleach or has to be mixed with bleach? Or can be used by itself? Also if I decide to seal my deck does it need to be done in summer months? This home is in upstate New York which we stay in basically July and august and visit occasionally in winter weekends.. is it ok to get all snow and harsh weathers on ipe even if it’s not sealed? I have so many questions.. didn’t know it involves so much care. I just loved the wood that’s why we went for it. Thanks so much would appreciate any answer you have,
I had an Ipe wood deck installed in 2012 and the person I hired over applied the Penofin product. The guy came back and used a cleaning product to dissolve the tackiness and start over. After the new application, it looked fine but when I treat it every year with Penofin Premium Rosewood Oil the color goes from a faded gray to a dark brown. The deck looks 100% better after the treatment, but appears monochromatic with no variation in color.
I had a few boxes of deck tiles in my garage that were from the original project. When I recently put them next to the current deck tiles they look incredibly bright and varied in color with shades that are lighter brown and reddish. I treated those with Penofin to see if they darkened and they did not.
Trying to understand if there’s a way to get those varied colors to come back or if the first mishap compromised the surface of the wood. Also think this could be sun damage or dirt that is contributing to the change in color. Would love your insight and expertise. THANKS IN ADVANCE!
Just had an ipe deck installed. The contractor used multiple stainless steel nails (really more like brads) and cut off the tops with a tool. It does not seem secure and rocks. My understanding is that the decks should be done with screws countersunk or the clip system. My concern is that the many nail holes have penetrated the wood and will cause it to deteriorate even if he replaces the nails with screws at this time. What do you recommend?
He has not been paid final payment. Thank you!
I’m not sure what is rocking. The deck boards shouldn’t rock. Its okay, performance wise, for nail or screw heads to be seen. If putting in screws, the holes need to be pre-drilled or the screws will break during the install. Screws should be stainless. good luck .
We are just completing a brand new ipe deck. We don’t want to use oil and plan on letting it turn gray naturally. Has anyone had experience using Seal-once exotic wood sealer on ipe? This product is supposed to be applied to new ipe to prevent water issues such as mildew. There would be no future applications necessary.
We have an Ipe deck in Aruba. The boards are not flat, they have little grooves so you don’t slip. We installed it almost 3 years ago. It surrounds the pool. I usually do a Penofin layer every 3-4 months since we have so much sun here. I noticed one year ago black spots, but I didn’t have enough time and energy to remove it. They got more and more over the time. Now I bought an Oreck orbital XL for a different purpose. But I decided to use it on the deck as well. The deck is about 200 square feet. The machine helped a bit, but in the end I had to use a manual wire brush to get the wood like new again. It looks great, but it took a lot of work and I did only a third of it. Is there anything else I can use, some chemical, I believe need to remove the Penofin layer only it’s not the wood that has mold. I can’t sand it, because of the grooves. Thank you.
I would use the TSP/bleach cleaner and then rinse with a power washer. For stuborn spots use “Wood Bleach” also called Oxcolic acid.
I had an ipe deck installed 10 years ago. It’s weathered to a silvery gray. I want to clean it but retain the silvery color. Do you recommend TSP alone or TSP with a touch of bleach? Also, can you elaborate on the type of brush/mop you recommend? Thanks in advance!
TSP with bleach. The bleach will take care of any algae or mold. I used a stiff bristled scrub brush.
Really useful info. You mention the challenges of working with Ipe. I think you should also mention that it’s also not the best choice for environmental reasons – specifically it’s rare and its high value causes illegal harvesting that is a major cause of deforestation of the Amazon. There are other choices that have similar properties and are more sustainable – reclaimed Cumaru and reclaimed Teak. This article is a pretty good summary:
Unfortunately I already own an Ipe deck put in by prior owners, but I would not have made this choice, so wanting to be sure others are aware.
I would recommend making your own cleaner and brightener using:
Cleaner: 70/30 mix of sodium percarbonate / sodium carbonate per gallon of hot water. Dampen ipe and remove any sitting water. Spray solution on and let sit (while keeping wet) for up to 15 minutes. Dip scrub brush in cleaner solution and scrub (possibly a lot). Thoroughly rinse.
Brightener: 1/3 cup of oxalic acid per gallon of hot water. Make sure ipe is damp. Apply with brush and rinse.
It’s been a year since we put in our new IPE deck. Planning on a Penofin re-stain this weekend. It does have a lot of SAP from trees and is in need of general cleaning. The plan was a hose off, clean bird-dung but I have questions in the best way to get SAP off. I’m reading Murphy Oil, TSP, etc.. what should I use?
I would try TSP, follow directions on the box. Its not expensive and can work for many types of cleaning. If you need to get really tough, try some mineral spirits with a scrub brush.
Just an update for my deck in Aruba. Black spots are mold due to proximity to the pool. They were burried in between layers of Penofin. I had to remove manually the Penofin with a brush and my Oreck machine and pour 2 canisters of bleach on my wood. I would not recommend this to anyone else unless you are really desperate like me. Now each 3 months I clean my deck with bleach and the wood looks like new and untreated each time. The wood is 4 years old almost and it’s great. Maybe because there is little rain in Aruba and no snow. I need to use something else then Penofin. This goes away in less than 3 months in the sun there, I am really tired to maintain this deck each 3-4 months. Also in that heat it goes black if I continue to oil it. I have Ipe in Canada and Penofin covers it beautifully here but it looks like the dry heat there is brutal. Is there any varnish you would recommend? Ideally would be something matte, I would not use any oil anymore since it looks like it’s baking in that heat. Can I use something used for boats? I can see all these beautiful wooden boats there they look fantastic inside.
Maybe just adapt a bit more of a relaxed approach. Clean it really well and then forget about it. Much of the boardwalk at the Jersey shore is ipe and they do nothing to maintain it and it last decades. let is gray and enjoy it. Any type of varnish that forms a film will be a disaster.
Thanks for finally writing about >Ipe Deck Maintenance – Keeping
your Ipe Deck looking new <Liked it!
Hello! I have an open table that has a long black rust stain on it – from leaving a metal stake on it in the rain. I just did a light sanding and a coat of pie oil and that only made the stain more noticeable. Should I try sanding more and restraining? Or perhaps try the wood bleach method you mention in some posts above? Thank you!
Yes, wood bleach would be my go to product for a rust stain on Ipe. This is the typical wood bleach product. https://amzn.to/319Mvow Sanding might be an option too.
Hi, I am new to decks and have a probably naive question to ask: We are planning to not restain the deck and are happy to have the silvery gray color. But do you have to clean an ipe wood deck? Like with the tsp solution or tsp/bleach solution you described? I’ve read through the comments and searched online and can’t seem to find an answer to my question, though may be it’s because it’s a very beginner question!
no need. Just keep leaves off with a broom. leaves can cause stains as they rot.
I gave my Ipe wood deck furniture a scrub with a TSP and bleach mix. Gave it a few passes and as it’s drying it looks like all the mold, mildew, oils and debris is gone. However in several spots the grain seems to be raised and there is almost rough build up. Thinking I went a little heavy on the bleach. Thoughts? Quick sand or maybe a rinse scrub with nylon brush and clean water? I want to treat with penofin after letting it dry for 48 hours.
Just a light sanding with 150 grit paper will smooth it out if needed. I would do it by hand, not an electric sander.
I did just that and the grain laid down nicely. The penofin oil gave a great refinish after proper prep. Thanks for the feedback.
I have a 5 year old Adirondack chair made of IPE wood that we have never treated and just let gray. I made the mistake of pressure washing once which did not clean the chair evenly. I tried the tsp / bleach and a lot of scrubbing with a bristle brush and it definitely cleaned it up nicely. The TSP eco by SAMAN that I purchased is a concentrate which suggests for 1 cup of water , I add 1 tsp. of TSP concentrate. Should I have added 1 cup of this concentrate or 1 tsp in 1 cup of water to the 3 quarts of water and 1 quart of bleach.
Not sure, maybe you just upsize the recipe. one gallon is 16 cups. If you want to make a gallon of cleaner use 16*teaspoon which equals about 1/3rd of a cup of cleaner per gallon of water then add maybe 1/2 a quart of bleach. That should get you close I would guess. Warm water is better too.
I have IPE siding on the exterior of our house. One portion of this siding has now developed a blackish color ( I think it might be mold since that area does not get any direct sun). How would I remove this and clean it before applying IPE oil?
Also, how do I clean up water spots before reapplying IPE oil?
I guess your advice for Ipe decks could be applied to Ipe siding as well?
Same advice. Clean with TSP and bleach, recipe on box of TSP.
We just installed a new Ipe deck over the last few weeks. We oiled the whole thing but now have dried muddy dog prints on it. We tried to wipe them off with water to no avail. Would your tip about cleaning with TSP and reoiling be okay on a new deck?
Yes. The TSP is just a type of soap. Have at it.
What brand of oil did you use? I ask because I’ve never found any oil that holds up to scratches/scuffs from moving chairs, etc. Thanks.
I have used Ipe Oil and Penofin. Ipe Oil https://amzn.to/3dDLIBo Penofin https://amzn.to/3pQlL7z The key is to wipe off excess before it dries.
I have an Ipe deck that I just refinished. I found one board that had splintered on the edge. What would be the best way to repair that?
It depends. If its a shard that can be glued back in place, use a waterproof, type III, PVA glue https://amzn.to/3CwNeBv or a polyurethane glue https://amzn.to/3RX1Z6c. Once dry, just sand it smooth. If its a small splinter, I would just sand off any rough edges and then enjoy the deck.