new Ipe deck problems

JCSmithJuly 4, 2005

I installed an Ironwood Ipe deck last summer. The deck is 16" to 18" above ground on pressure treated Doug Fir with good ventilation. The boards arrived pretty marked up so I sanded (120 grit). Following the conventional advice, I sealed all cut ends with Anchorseal, being careful not to get the wax on the flat surfaces. I sealed the deck surface (all four sides) with Transparent Redwood Penofin as it was one of the top recommendations by the Ironwood folks. Despite my care in sealing the cut ends, the wax appears to have soaked into the wood to the point that there is an inch or more of discoloration at the ends of many of the boards. The wood turned silver during the winter (before it stopped raining) and now it has mildew stains. I'm planning to use dilute Oxi Clean (non-chlorine bleach) to get rid of the mildew, sand again with a coarser sandpaper (80 grit?), and apply more Penofin (I still have three gallons from last summer). I hope that will eliminate or minimize the wax stains. Any other suggestions? A better cleaner than Oxi Clean? Better stain/sealer than Penofin? All advice appreciated.

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If I can chime in with some "homeowner-level" advice and just summize what Ive been reading in these forums...

Most of this is according to PressurePro's, well-respected on these forums...

1- Sanding just before sealing/staining isnt recommended because you are bringing out the oils in the IPE and the stain will not penetrate the wood properly.
2- Oxyclean is ok, but has extra ingredients. Use a sodium percarb solution (Wolmans Deck Brite), followed by a oxyalic acid wash (Wolmans Deck and Fence brightener).
3- Alot of stains have mildew issues because of the linseed oils in them. I heard Penofin was a culprit. For that reason, Im switching to Cabots Austrailian Timber Oil (my deck isnt finished yet). Although im sure that will have some mildew issues as well.
Someone else will probably add more comments about needing to strip the deck of the penofin first. That might be some sodium hydroxide stuff....

    Bookmark   July 4, 2005 at 10:05AM
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How do you avoid sanding before sealing the deck if you are trying to deal with water stains? Is that what the sodium percarb solution or the Oxiclean is for?

    Bookmark   July 6, 2005 at 2:15AM
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Again... Im no expert.... (heck, im not even a novice).. but i did see you have posted about this in multiple threads... I would go out and get some kind of sodium percarb. Although the oxyalic I said in the message above might take care of the stains.... Wait for Ken (pressurepros) to wake up and answer this if you want precise instructions....

    Bookmark   July 6, 2005 at 8:45AM
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I am building an ipe deck. The contractors have been good thus far, but have spilled coke and various other drinks today. I tried soap and water on the spots, and no luck.

The deck also has a screened porch. We replaced our roof and where the new porch roof meets the old, there is a big valley that pours water onto the deck. (I am getting gutter estimates as we speak)

To add to my problems, the roof was taken off one day and tar paper was added. The new shingles were going down the next day. Between the old and new roof that first night, we had a huge rainstorm. Water came down onto the deck heavily, (along with tar paper residue)

I now have coke stains and water/tarpaper stains.

The contractors are leaving tomorrow as their job is nearly complete. My plan is to put the recommended oil on the deck to bring out the natural colors (not sure what to use -- any advice would help) - but what can I do, if anything to get rid of the stains prior to putting oil down?

Time is crucial here, so please advise.

From a novice

    Bookmark   June 20, 2006 at 7:55PM
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The problems are all the fault of your contractors, don't let them leave without fixing your issues. Tar is petroleum based and very difficult to remove. Soda is acidic and has dyes which present another set of problems. I have to use stripper to remove tar and even then had to sand to completely get rid of shadows.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2006 at 8:24PM
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Thanks for the reply. I am certainly going to hold them accountable, I am just afraid they only know how to build a deck and not how to care for it... as I have asked them pointed questions regarding maintaining it etc and they just looked puzzled.

Any advice on what I should get them to do?

Should I get them to replace the actual boards that were damaged?

    Bookmark   June 20, 2006 at 11:12PM
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Thanks for the reply. I am certainly going to hold them accountable, I am just afraid they only know how to build a deck and not how to care for it... as I have asked them pointed questions regarding maintaining it etc and they just looked puzzled.

Any advice on what I should get them to do?

Should I get them to replace the actual boards that were damaged?

    Bookmark   June 21, 2006 at 7:12AM
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I have an Ipe deck that I stained days after it was completed. The sun hits it 90% of the day which has caused it to lose its stain two months later. I'm in the process of sanding and prepping for stain and wondered if anyone can suggest a stain? Also, is there something I should pre treat the wood with and something I should use after the stain is applied? Any suggestions would be helpful.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2007 at 2:24PM
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My deck also gets sun most of the day. I'm amazed at how much the IPE has already silvered in 6 weeks. I'm guessing no matter what stain I apply it's not going to last a year. I'm hoping my wife can live with silver!

    Bookmark   August 1, 2007 at 2:35PM
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To answer the original poster, don't us a redwood stain on Ipe. They are 2 different animals. Use a stain formulated for hardwoods. I use Austrailian Timber Oil. Penofin also makes a semi-transparent stain for hardwoods. It is very similar to ATO.

6 weeks to weather driftwood grey is very fast.

Most semi-transparent stains do not last more then a year, in any climate. Despite the claims otherwise.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2007 at 3:47PM
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There are no products that will prevent Ipe from silvering on a sunny deck (unless you seal it every 3 months). I use Penofin, and it looks great when I'm done...but it's only temporary.
Built a pergola over the deck...the more shade, the better


    Bookmark   August 1, 2007 at 3:54PM
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"6 weeks to weather driftwood grey is very fast"

Let me clerify...It did not completely silver but it has lightened considerably from the original color it was when installed.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2007 at 4:55PM
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It's amazing the problems and frustations folks are having with their Ipe decking. I see a couple of common threads here. Number one is do NOT trust what the "expert" tells you; just read the label on the can and/or go to the manufacturer's website. We have worked with many of the products discussed on this forum and followed the manufacturers' instructions with no problems. Number two is give the product a chance. Many products will require stripping before reapplication. This is a lot of periodic work and seldom good for the plants. Pick a product that does not cause a build up surface film that must be stripped. Penofin has worked very well for us. Just retreat with it when the Ipe starts to turn 'blonde'. It maybe 6 months the first retreat, and then 12 months after that, and then 18 months after that. Give it a chance.

Penofin has good midecides and fungecides to mimimize mold.

Regarding Cabots' Australian Timber Oil (ATO), we have had to strip it off every Ipe deck we have come accross. It gets shinier and more splochy with subsequent coats and looks horrible. The can tells the user it has to be stripped before recoating, but folks seem to ignore that step.

As one that works with these coatings all the time and has for years, I can tell you with certainty that these manufacturers do change the formulas without any notification. Perhaps at one time ATO was the best around. Nowadays I could hardly agree based on our hands on experience.

Please just read the instructions and if you think you know better than the manufacturer, perhaps you should be using some other product.

Ipe and other exotic hardwoods are not maintenance free or even what I would call low maintenance. Heck Pressure Treated Southern Yellow Pine (PTSYP) is less maintenance than Brazilian hardwood.

If folks out there are building Ipe decks because they expect to save maintenance expenses, they better like it dingy and gray.

    Bookmark   January 1, 2009 at 7:21PM
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It's been a while since my original post (I started this thread) so guess I'll follow up. First of all, the Penofin I used was purchased specifically for use on the Ipe so I assume the vendor gave me the right stuff. Redwood was the color, not the intended wood. Anyway, I was so frustrated with the original results I thought I might try letting it turn silver and see how that looked. Silver might be OK but black is not (mildew) so last summer I washed it with OxyClean (yes, I know, not the best cleaner but I had it on hand so thought I'd try it) and a stiff scrub brush. It worked great, removing the mildew and the old Penofin (came off in a goopy mess) by just rinsing with a nozzle on a garden hose after the scrubbing. I let it dry completely for a few days and in the meantime started researching stains (again). After finding countless conflicting opinions I went to Consumer Reports (been a member for over 20 years and have learned to trust their research) and found the Sikkens products. I applied their Cetol SRD 250 (translucent stain made specifically for use in the PRC). I did one thing not in the directions... I applied a very heavy coat and wiped it down with a stain-soaked rag before it dried completely. It's only been five months so it's too soon to tell but so far it looks good. I'll report back in a year or so. As to the Anchorseal wax soaking into the cut ends of the boards, it is still there in some places, but not nearly as noticeable as it was before I cleaned and restained. A couple of the boards did develop cracks on the ends despite the Anchorseal, but most did not. The deck still looks good (great now that it's restained). One thing that's noticeable is that the boards closest to the house, under the eave, were originally darker than the others (more shade) but now that I've cleaned and restined they are lighter color. That's because the stain soaked in more on the more weathered wood.

    Bookmark   January 2, 2009 at 2:26PM
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This summer a carpenter friend and I built a substantial Brazilian Redwood deck.
I learned allot of things and wanted to posts what I learned to this forum but have not had the time.

Regarding CABOTS ATO, there are two formulas with the same names. The 3000 series is good, the 9000 series is bad. (Example 3459 Mahogany Flame is good, 9459 Mahogany Flame is bad.) The 9000 series does not look the same, takes forever to dry, does not repel water, hides grain, Â.. I have run it three people who have experienced this same series 9000 problem, some with restraining there old decks (they had no problems before) or with new decks both on Mahogany and Brazilian redwood. I only stained three boards with the 9000 series and you can still tell them apart especially when it rains.

On end waxing, I discussed with Cabot's and they felt I should be able to use the ATO in place of the wax. I did and seemed to soak in well to the end cuts. Just for a precaution, I also waxed the ends a couple of hours after the ATO dried. This mitigated any end waxing color problems.

    Bookmark   January 5, 2009 at 3:53PM
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we just paid a company--3 weeks ago--a lot of money to clean and seal our ipe flooring. They used cabot oil-based stain. 10 days elapsed between the cleaning process and the staining process because of the rain. Our deck has now turned black--spotty, but black. Is this in fact mold? Can mold spores get on wood that quickly? They say it's not their fault-help.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2009 at 1:10PM
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I have heard that Ipe can be a challenge to work with. I recently cleaned and stained my Ipe deck with EFC-38 followed by Citralic to brighten the wood. I stained it with Wood Tux. I am very pleased with the results so far (my friends are in awe of the Ipe!) It wasn't as hard as I thought it would be to apply. I will keep you posted as to the durability.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2009 at 11:57AM
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We had an ipe deck installed about 6 years ago. Originally the workers used Silkkens stain, but the following year I asked them to use Penofin. It looked great. Last year, less experienced workers did another coat of Penofin and did not apply it correctly. One area was extrememely sticky where it was very hard to even lift your foot off the deck. We power-washed that area and the misc. debris as well as the stain washed away. So I don't know what to do this year, do I have them sand and start from the beginning again? If so, do you stain right after the sanding or wait? So many people have had different experiences, I don't know what is best. Any advice?

    Bookmark   April 8, 2010 at 10:40AM
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These guys sell strippers/oxalic acid wash/ outdoor finish. Not bad Customer support. J.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2010 at 5:43PM
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Here is a link to a variety of Pergola Plans.

Here is a link that might be useful: pergola plans

    Bookmark   April 8, 2010 at 6:15PM
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Is anyone familial with sanding Ipe material?

    Bookmark   June 8, 2012 at 6:37PM
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Hello All,

I just joined and am not sure if this thread is still active ...

I have an IPE deck that's about 8 years old with no maintenance. It gets a lot of sun and has grayed quite a bit. There's also blackish dirt on it, and some has a greenish hint where it doesn't get as much sun.

My question is: is there a way to clean it that won't compromise an existing stain/sealant/water-resistance?



    Bookmark   April 3, 2013 at 7:08PM
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If the deck is 8 years old and has never been maintained, why would you be concerned over preserving "existing/stain/sealant/water resistance" as whatever is there is nonexistent and should have been done at least 6 years ago?

    Bookmark   April 4, 2013 at 9:04AM
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My professional installer completed an Ipe deck on my San Francisco Bay Area home and finished it with Australian Timber Oil in early August. We have had one light rain and a couple of days of fog. It is rapidly turning black. Draw your own conclusions.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2013 at 10:54PM
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Here is some info we put together about ipe problems you might have and how to solve. Feel free to let me know if you have any questions.

Here is a link that might be useful: solving ipe deck problems

    Bookmark   June 30, 2014 at 2:33PM
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