The Wrong Way – Ipe Deck Finishing

We always hear about fashion dos and don’ts. You know, crap like don’t wear white after Labor Day. Really? Tell that to Mother Nature, Vermont Division. That’s the state which celebrates Summer on August 9th between 2-and-4 PM. Lots of snow. Frozen precip, if you haven’t heard, is white.

Along these lines, there are some matters you should never do before or after your ipe (EE-pay) deck has been installed. Top of the list, don’t paint the surface white.

The Wrong Stuff

There are a lot of things that fall into the hands-off category. Like never eat ipe, even from the corner of the structure. More reasonably, put down your fork and saw. Here’s a bunch of stuff that should be on, occasionally off-limits.

  • Don’t fail to pre-finish. Before you begin construction of your deck, slap on a coat. Don’t miss anything – top, bottom, side-to-side. After it’s installed, get the exposed ends. Let it set for a day-or-two so that it’s totally dry when you hammer and screw it into place. By pre-finishing the ipe you are adding decades (hell, maybe centuries) to the hardwood’s lifespan. This is especially necessary if the deck is close to the ground. Either way, begin with this procedure.
  • Never coat your ipe deck by using a squeegee, an air-driven sprayer or a roller. Attach a pair of knee pads, get on all fours and apply it by hand. It’s a potential pain in the vertebrae, but it’s the best way to apply the gunk.
  • Are you contemplating a lap of film-forming coatings? Bad deck owner. Never do this to any wood deck, even if it’s not ipe decking. Marine structures require this process. Land-lubbing ones will require mucho maintenance if you cross this stream. Remember why you bought ipé to begin with? It doesn’t take that much care and feeding.
  • You want to add oils that penetrate the ipe. You do not want to go too far, though. And once you wipe it on the surface, go back over the work to rid the deck of any excess oil. Putting oil on soft woods, you can go bat crap crazy with the amount you apply. Those woods that are lower on the Janka hardness scale can suck-it-up. Ipe keeps the oil at arm’s length. Too much oil will simply make the surface icky.
  • Just because its ipe doesn’t mean you’ll be able to take the deck to the prom forever. Sooner-or-later the hardwood will wear a tattered gown. It’s a pro-choice issue. You can let it age gracefully to a silvery gray by never touching it up. Or you’ll need to do some annual upkeep. Don’t get nervous. Maintenance with ipe means sweeping the surface; with a moist cloth removing any soil or sap; and reapplying the oil. No BFD.

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