Clean and Maintain Your Ipe Wood Deck

How to Properly Clean and Maintain Your Ipe Wood Deck

In Exterior Wood, Tips by Jamie

Ipe decking looks great and is very durable, but it requires regular cleaning and maintenance.

Clean your decking once a month by sweeping and vacuuming debris and hosing it down. Use a diluted bleach or Oxiclean solution to remove stubborn stains.

You may also need to apply sealer on an annual basis, and occasionally refinish the surface of your decking. Read on to find out more about Ipe wood deck maintenance.

What Is Ipe Decking?

Ipe (pronounced “ee-pay”) is a South American hardwood known for its durability and strength. In fact, it is one of the hardest wood species on earth. It is resistant to scratches, and nowhere near as prone to rotting and mildew as other types of wood, and it is also slip-resistant.

Offering an appearance much like American black walnut, Ipe Decking has a very unique brown color to it with bold grain patterns that are unlike any other type of decking.

Ipe decking can last a very long time without getting damaged or degraded, but it is important that it is cleaned and maintained properly.

How to Clean Your Ipe Wood Deck

You should clean and inspect your Ipe decking once a month to keep it in good condition and prevent damage. Follow these simple steps to safely clean your Ipe deck:

1. Remove any furniture.

2. Use a soft broom to sweep away any dust and debris, or pollen and algae sitting on the surface of the wood.

3. Use a vacuum to remove stubborn dust between the deck tiles.

4. Rinse the entire deck with a garden hose or buckets of water.

5. If there are any stains that are not removed by hosing, these must be cleaned. Mix a quart of bleach with a gallon of water and use this solution to mop the boards until they are clean. Then, rinse thoroughly with the hose again.

6. Let the deck fully dry before replacing any furniture.

Can You Clean an Ipe Deck with Oxiclean?

Yes, you can clean your Ipe deck with Oxiclean. If there are tough stains on the surface of the wood, you should use a 40:1 ratio of water to OxiClean and scrub until the stain is removed. It can also help to remove mildew, although this is not likely to be a problem with Ipe decking.

Does Ipe Require Regular Maintenance?

Yes, Ipe requires regular maintenance. You should keep your Ipe deck clean following the method listed above. It is also good practice to apply a sealer every 1-2 years. This will prevent any damage, stop moisture from soaking into the wood and preserve the natural color.

You should also consider refinishing the deck every decade. It is an extensive job to take on, but it will bring your deck back to life and ensure that it lasts for years to come. You can do this by using a wood stripper to fully remove all of the previous sealer (a pressure washer may be needed but never exceed 1,200 psi or you can damage the wood). Once the sealer has all been removed, let the deck dry and re-apply.

Maintenance Tips

  • Sweep the deck every week.
  • Clean your Ipe deck once every month – always use a soft brush and a garden hose. Use Oxiclean or a light bleach solution for stubborn stains.
  • Clean and apply sealer every 1-2 years – use oil-based products designed for natural hardwood.
  • Refinish the deck once per decade – ensure that all old sealer is removed. You may also want to sand the deck before reapplying to get the best possible finish.
  • Consider getting a canopy to protect your deck from direct sunlight and UV damage in the summer.

How Often Should You Clean Your Ipe Deck?

You should clean your Ipe deck once a month at the very least, but more often if it is used regularly. It is also good practice to sweep it once or twice a week to prevent a buildup of leaves and debris, which could scratch the surface.

Does Ipe Wood Need to Be Sealed?

Ipe wood does not necessarily need to be sealed. It is already very resistant to rot and mildew, so sealing is not essential as it would be with other types of wooden decking. However, if you want to maintain the color of the decking, it does need to be sealed regularly.

When not sealed, the color will fade to a silvery/gray tone. This does not cause any damage and if you are happy with that color, you can leave it. But if you want to retain the brown color, apply sealant every 1-2 years.

Follow These Steps to Seal Your Ipe Deck

  • Sweep and vacuum the entire deck to remove any debris.
  • Use a brush and detergent to scrub the boards until they are clean, removing all dirt and stains.
  • Rinse the deck thoroughly with a hose, removing as much residue as possible.
  • Once dry, apply sealant according to package instructions – usually, 2 coats is sufficient.
  • Before sealing, always read the manufacturer’s guidelines in full because all products vary and you risk damaging your decking if you apply sealer incorrectly.

What Can You Seal Ipe Wood Decking With?

Ipe wood decking can be sealed with an oil-based product designed for use with hardwood. Popular choices include teak oil, walnut oil, and coconut oil. However, there are also some effective water-based hardwood stains available. Below are some of the top sealer choices for your Ipe decking.

1. Penofin Oil Finish

PenofinTransparent Penetrating Oil Finish Stain & Sealer 1 Gallon Mission Brown

Penofin is an oil-based sealer that produces a semi-transparent finish. It comes in two parts which you mix together, then apply. As well as protecting the wood, it improves the appearance by darkening and enhancing the shade of your natural Ipe decking. It has a glossy finish and gives excellent UV protection.

2. DeckWise Ipe Oil DeckWise Ipe Oil Hardwood Deck Semi-Transparent 250 VOC Natural Finish (1-Gallon)

DeckWise Ipe Oil is designed for sealing all hardwood decks, including Ipe decks. It is a natural oil that is very simple to apply. It gives great UV protection and has a slightly brown tint, so it accentuates the natural color of the Ipe and brings it out more. If you are concerned about maintaining the color, this is an excellent choice. The finish will not be as glossy as the Penofin Oil.

3. Messmers UV Plus Decking Oil

MESSMER's MH-500-1 Hard INC MH-500-1 Gallon Natural Hardwood UV Finish

Messmers UV Plus decking oil is specifically designed to penetrate deep into the wood and provide excellent UV protection. It uses revolutionary UV inhibitors to give your deck the best possible sun protection. It also adds a great mildew-resistant coating too.

4. DEFY Deck Stain For Hardwoods DEFY 1 Gallon Semi-Transparent Deck Stain for Hardwoods, Cedar Tone

DEFY Deck Stain For Hardwoods is an environmentally friendly, water-based deck stain that is suitable for Ipe. It absorbs easily into hard wood types, so it’s ideal for Ipe. You’ll get a durable top layer that is easily re-applied without the need to sand it back, making maintenance much simpler. You can also choose from 3 slightly different shades of brown.

Final Thoughts

Ipe decking makes an amazing feature for your backyard and, when cared for properly, it will last an incredibly long time. In order to keep your Ipe decking in perfect condition, you should sweep it regularly to remove any debris and dust. Once a month, give the deck a thorough clean using a hose and a bleach or Oxiclean solution to remove stubborn stains, where necessary. Apply a sealer every 1-2 years if you want to maintain the color, though this is not strictly necessary.

Whenever you use a sealer on your decking, always follow the instructions carefully. Finally, refinish the surface of the decking once a decade.

As long as you follow this maintenance routine, your Ipe decking will look as good as new and you won’t have any problems with it.