Comparing Deck Cleaners for Ipe and other Hardwood Decks

What kind of Deck Cleaner should I use on Ipe or other exotic hardwood decks and just how hard is cleaning a deck? This year, I decided to compare a locally available deck cleaner to a brand recommended on the Internet for my Ipe deck front porch. This Ipe deck is 8 years old. The Ipe porch is cleaned once a year with a local deck cleaner from Lowe’s, usually Olympic or Cabots. Restore-A-Deck 2 Step Deck Cleaner was recommended on an Internet site so I compared this to Olympic Premium Deck Cleaner. Based on my efforts last Saturday, I recommend Restore-A-Deck 2 Step Deck Cleaner. This porch is 12’ wide by 36’ long. The Ipe porch is on the east side of the home, receives heavy morning sun and is exposed to rain and dirt from five kids and one large, Wire-haired Griffon dog. I bought two Restore-A-Deck packages for $88.99 off the internet and one gallon of Olympic for $16.87 at Lowe’s. Due to column spacing, I used almost the entire gallon of Olympic on 1/3 of the porch. Just one fourth of the Restore-A-Deck purchase was needed to clean 2/3 of the Ipe porch. I estimate that $22.25 of the Restore-A-Deck at $22.25 is about the same as two gallons of the Olympic for $33.74. I started with the Olympic Premium Deck cleaner and followed its instructions. Olympic instructs to wet the Ipe porch first with a water hose. I then applied the Olympic with an inexpensive garden sprayer. Olympic appeared to be a strong bleach mixture and one can immediately see cleaning results. To get most dirt up, however, a push broom/brush with medium coarseness is needed. A second application of Olympic got the porch completely clean. Several rinses of the porch with the hose and a lighter push brush removed all cleaner. Restore-A-Deck is a two step process. I mixed the solid cleaner with warm water in the same garden sprayer. Apparently, the solid did not completely dissolve as the mixture tended to clog the sprayer, but it worked well enough with additional air pressure. Restore-A-Deck cleaned deeper into the wood grain and picked up more dirt and grime. The push brush was needed to scrub in certain areas. As the Restore-A-Deck cleaned, the dirt residue and cleaner created a slippery deck surface so I had to be careful. Rinsing the cleaner off with a water hose took several tries with the push broom. I then mixed the brightener second step in the same garden sprayer and applied the brightener to the porch. The entire process took about 2 1/2 hours with some assistance during the washing phase. Restore-A-Deck is the better cleaner. While the 2-step process took longer and was slippery, the end result is a perfectly clean, almost like-new, appearance. All bleach-based cleaners tend to leave a white sheen on the Ipe. Here are some before and after pictures of the cleaning.

restore a deck

2 part cleaner used

brush clean

Push broom used as scrub brush

foaming action

Restore-a-Deck 2 part cleaner has a foaming action

strips stains

Restore-a-Deck cleaner appeared to strip all old stains and oils off

half cleaned

Top portion of porch has been cleaned, bottom has not. Both are wet in photo.

deck cleaning side by side (1280x426)

Before Cleaning (LEFT) After Cleaning (Right)

Deck cleaning before and after (1280x426)

Before Cleaning (Left) After Cleaning (Right)

After letting the porch dry thoroughly for 48 hours, I applied a coat of Penofin Penetrating Oil Finish to the Ipe porch. ~ Guest Blogger

…Follow along with OHC to see results of Penofin Treatment on this Ipe porch…

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