Ipe is a wood commonly used as decking material as it's hard, strong and naturally resistant to rot, abrasion and weather, unlike traditional decking materials. Additionally, it is almost five times harder and twice as dense as most woods. To maintain the look of your ipe deck, there are a number of things that you need to do in order to maintain it.
Ipe has its own natural defense against decay, water absorption, cupping, splintering and twisting, so sealing is not necessary. However, if you choose to seal you're deck, be sure to coat the entire length without stopping in the middle, which will be obvious when it dries.
If left untreated, Ipe will stay smooth and splinter free and will weather to a silver-gray color in six to 12 months. However, to help prevent surface discoloration and checking, which is a naturally occurring lengthwise separation of the wood, you can add a finish with a penetrating, high-quality, water-seal product immediately after installation. Treat deck materials on all sides prior to installation to create an equal moisture transfer which decreases the chances of cupping, which is when the edges of a board are high and its center is lower. No further maintenance will be needed except for regular cleaning.
A high-quality penetrating oil finish with a high UV inhibitor rating should be used for installations if you want a "finished wood" appearance. To maintain the desired color, the finish should be applied periodically depending on sun exposure and surface wear. Don't excessively apply an overcoat as many finishers may cause the surface to become sticky and can create a "puddle" look. You should always apply a thin coat using small push broom when the deck is clean and use a clean rag to remove any of the excess.
If, however, you would like the brown color back again, you can use a pressure washer on the surface to get the original color back. If water pressure or application is uneven, water pressure washing can leave streaking patterns as the water penetrates different levels in the wood so test a small area before you do the whole deck.
Keep your deck free of leaves, pine needles and other debris because they can retain water and clog drainage, which doesn't allow the deck to dry properly. Planters, benches and other deck accessories should be moved once in a while to allow the deck underneath to dry thoroughly.
Cleaning an ipe deck can bring out the original colors and protect it. You can begin by sanding scratches or blemishes using an 80-grit sand paper. Before applying the cleaner, the deck should be thoroughly wet with water using a garden hose to remove dirt and avoid streaking. After the cleaner is applied using a garden sprayer or hand sprayer, allow it to set for 30 minutes. Dirt should be removed with a stiff bristle that isn't made of metal. Before applying the deck finisher, the deck should be hosed down with water again.
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