Ipe Sealers & Ipe Deck Cleaning
Ipe Sealers: Exterior Deck Application
Ipe sealers are not necessary! Ipe deck treatment is only needed if you desire to keep the rich brown colours that exist in a new installation. Ipe lumber will age to a natural silver gray patina, and outlast most woods with no chemical coating.
Applying a preservative to Ipe lumber is not recommended. The wood is very dense and the chemicals do not penetrate below the surface, and besides the ipe wood has its own natural decay defenses, so the process is not necessary.
Ipe Sealer Coat:
As suggested earlier, an ipe sealer coat is not required to "seal" the wood. Ipe's natural density will prevent water absorption, to prevent cupping, splintering and twisting issues common with traditional softwood decking materials. It will remain smooth and splinter free, aging to a silver patina, but I have seen suggestions that you apply a one time coat of a stabilizing agent (such as Seasonite by Flood Co.) right after the installation. This will slow the acclimatization process, as the wood seasons to the local conditions and prevent small surface checking that can occur on some of the wood.
Ipe deck finishes can be used to preserve its natural colour (a reddish brown). Use a product with a strong UV inhibitor. This is a list of products that have been recommended, but I personally have not used any of them... I'm resting on various other peoples expertise:
Penefin for hardwood decks
Waterlox Marine Sealer & Finish
Cabot Australian Timber Oil
(specifically designed for dense woods)
Boiled Linseed Oil + spar vanish combination
One customer from Bermuda swore by Thompson's Water Seal and recoated annually.
Typically I'm told, these finishes last for 1-4 years, thus recoating will be necessary, but frequency will obviously vary significantly, depending on what area of the country you live in, and the weather exposure. I do know, that many have emphasized NOT TO OVER COAT. Excessive application of any of these oil based sealers may create a sticky surface and will not improve their performance.
Apply a THIN coat and remove excess with a clean rag. Recoat in six months if necessary.
Ipe Deck Cleaning:
If you have allowed the ipe wood to age to its silver colour and now have changed your mind and would like the russet brown colour back again... you can use a pressure washer on the surface, and with some care get the original colour back. Test in an inconspicuous place first!
You must try and maintain an even travel across the wood surface, or you'll leave "lap" marks on the deck, as the water penetrates to different levels on the wood surface.... like anything else try a small area first and gain some experience.
Its best with a commercial grade machine capable of 2500-3000 psi pressure and in some severe cases, the use of a deck wood stripper in conjunction with the power washer is necessary. This should remove most of the gray colored surface film and expose the original wood coloration..... then top coat as above.
Obviously it is also possible to sand the top layer to expose the beautiful colours below, but this doesn't help too much on the small edges between boards.
The wood is difficult to paint or varnish, thus this is not recommended. Surface preparation to remove yellowish lapachol powder may improve these finishing qualities if it is really necessary.
I am told it will take a stain well, though, I haven't actually tried that myself ... maybe experiment and let me know!
There is Ipe hardwood flooring on the market with some pretty nice deep stains so it must be possible.