4 yr old ipe deck: to finish or leave gray?

patjaJune 1, 2010

My ipe deck was built 4 years ago. It was finished after being built, which was good for 6 months or so.

2 years ago I did the restore-a-deck cleaning treatment with a rented pressure washer. This year I am doing it again (bought my own gas pressure washer at Costco this time though). Last time I left it unfinished, this time I am second-guessing this decision.

I am actually fine with the natural gray look. My primary concern is the buildup of organic growth from our 9 months of typical Seattle wet weather each year, and the pollen and other "stuff" that floats down from our neighbor's birch trees. It gets green and black and definitely needs removal at 2 year intervals. Otherwise it is a slipping hazard when wet. I probably should clean it every year, it looks kinda crappy after one year but isn't a death trap when wet like it is after 2 years.

What I am wondering is:

(1) If I make the effort to finish the deck with TWP116 as John Hyatt recommends (wet-on-wet, followed by another coat after 3 months, and then an annual maintenance coat after cleaning), will the finish inhibit the slippery organic growth?

(2) Will the finished deck be easier to clean than leaving it unfinished?

Or is the organic growth just a fact of life with my environment, and maybe now that I have my own pressure washer I just need to wash it every year so it isn't such a big chore every two years like I have been doing?

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I never use a power washer on Ipe,or any other decking.

TWP finish has mold/ mildew protection built in.


    Bookmark   June 1, 2010 at 8:47PM
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While mildewcides in stains can inhibit the growth of mildew they won't prevent mildew from forming on the pollen and other dirt that lands on the surface of your deck and becomes food for mildew spores. It sounds like your deck is shaded as well. You are right that you need to clean your deck more frequently. Letting your Ipe deck go grey is likely to be the easier path. At this point you can use a percarbonate cleaner, spray it on with a garden sprayer, let dwell 20 minutes, and scrub with a deck brush on a pole. If you know what you are doing you can powerwash instead of scrubbing, but only if you can use very low pressure and a wide fan. The cleaning will remove most of the grey which may be good or bad depending on what you want. After that rinse the deck when it is dirty, e.g. after pollen season etc. and re-clean yearly.


    Bookmark   June 2, 2010 at 8:43AM
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Good to have you on Marty!! John totaly agrees.

John Hyatt www.deckmastersllc.com

    Bookmark   June 2, 2010 at 5:31PM
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found this information on an ipe site...
Pressure washing occasionally will freshen the look of an Ipe deck by exposing more of its underlying color. Test the water pressure in an inconspicuous area and then wash the entire deck evenly, using the same pressure on every area. Streaking can occur if the pressure is not kept even across the decking.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2010 at 11:21PM
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I pressure washed my Ipe deck this past week. It was covered in mildew. Had a company come out last year and clean and treat my deck for a pretty hefty amount of money and it didn't last three months. My deck is shaded most of the day. I used Floods cleaner and brightener before pressue washing and it didn't clean it well, at all. Put Messmers UV finisher on yesterday and it looks great. Don't know how long that will last, though. Have a couple of puddling places and not sure how to get rid of the tackyness. Any suggestions?

    Bookmark   June 6, 2010 at 11:17AM
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If you finish and protect the wood it will certainly make it easier to keep clean and maintain. The key to keeping down the "slippery" growth is to keep the pollen off the deck. The pollen provides a good food source for mold and mildew to take hold. If the deck is finished, you can usually rinse the pollen off with a garden hose.
I used to mop my Ipe deck a couple times a year with water and a little dish soap. If I felt like it was getting any mold or mildew I would throw in a bit of bleach. Then when the finish started looking dull or dry, I just wipe it down with more stain. (You might ask John if that's okay with TWP116)
Its easier to keep it clean and maintain the finish than going through that whole powerwash and restain every couple years.

Here is a link that might be useful: Ipe Deck Guide

    Bookmark   June 13, 2010 at 12:31PM
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Tackiness is usually a sign of over application of product. You can try rubbing the tacky area with some mineral spirits on a rag. It may take some elbow grease.


    Bookmark   June 13, 2010 at 1:30PM
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