Is There Such Thing as a Maintenance-Free Deck?

This is probably the question asked most often by both our potential and current customers, along with the entire internet. Everyone wants a maintenance-free deck that once it’s installed, you do absolutely nothing and it’ll stay looking just like the first time you stepped on it. This popular belief was pioneered by some of the manufacturers of synthetic decking products, promising a maintenance-free, trouble-free surface that would last for years without lifting a finger. These fantastic claims resonated well because people were tired of the same Southern Yellow Pine, Cedar or Douglas Fir that would need yearly stripping, sealing and painting just to try to keep it together for a few years.

The most popular types of wood were used because it is what was most available and most affordable. Southern Yellow Pine is by far the most common wood throughout the United States and it is used in the construction of almost every building. Cedar and Douglas Fir were popular for the same reason in other regions of the United States. This vastness of resources leads to low prices and affordability of building an exterior living space. However, the properties that make these woods popular for construction don’t apply to exterior use.  They need to be painted or sealed constantly to protect the wood, otherwise it will deteriorate, splinter, crack, and rot beyond repair. Though cheap initially, the cost of maintenance and the enduring hard work has proven these species unsuitable.

We recommend Pressure Treated wood only for deck framing.

We recommend Pressure Treated wood only for deck framing.

The synthetic’s promise of a maintenance-free material seemed like the magic formula that came to solve all the troubles of the common wood species for decking. Unfortunately, this isn’t the truth. Composite decking, whether it’s Capstock or regular composite, has shown that it needs care. Cleaning must be done yearly with special cleaning agents to advert growth of any detrimental agents. This has to be done as soon as anything appears, which can be bi-monthly to every quarter of the year. Perhaps the biggest problem is the fading of these synthetics over time. Unlike wood, once faded, these plastic materials won’t come back to their original color. The promise of a maintenance-free deck is hopeful at best, and deceitful at worst.

The wonderful thing about our decking is that it maintains its structural integrity as the decades pass. This means there’s none of the cracking, splintering and or deterioration that is typical with species like Southern Yellow Pine. Our decking weathers beautifully to grey, but it stays solid. With our hardwood choices of Ipe, Cumaru, Tigerwood, Garapa, and Massaranduba, you can expect to have one of the densest and strongest woods available on the market. All of these woods are at least 2x stronger and much denser than any of the common wood used for decks.

Having a desire for a low-maintenance material is when our Brazilian hardwood decking DSC_9891becomes most enticing. Using any of our species of hardwoods won’t promise you a deck that, without any help, will be pristine for many decades. We are realistic and we know that our decking needs some maintenance, no matter how minimal it is. The maintenance you can expect with our hardwoods is to have to rinse off the deck with warm water.  If you leave the deck without cleaning for months, you may need to use a cleaner and brightener solution. Don’t worry, this is a powder that dissolves in warm water and gets applied with a mop; if you can mop a floor you can use these solutions. Finally, to keep the color of any of our woods, you will need to re-apply Ipe Oil once every year to two years depending on how much sun your deck sees. This oil acts as a sunscreen, and brings out the rich tones of the wood’s grain. Unlike most other products on the market, this oil doesn’t need a million things before it’s applied. If your deck is clean, just apply it again!

What we offer is a no compromise decking material that lasts well over 30 years, is 100% natural, low-maintenance, and can always be repaired should there be any scratches or gouges. Even more importantly, compared to any other material, if our hardwood is left to fade, it can always be returned to its original color.

4 thoughts on “Is There Such Thing as a Maintenance-Free Deck?

  1. Wanda Bennetts

    I have a cabin in Montana and we are presently doing a remodel interior and exterior. Can you please tell me if you have a contact person in Montana where we could purchase the ipe for our exterior decking application

  2. G. Alves

    Wanda,

    We don’t have a location in Montana, but we do ship to Montana. Currently, we have a special of any decking order of $1500 ships free! Give us a call if you have more questions.

  3. Michael Curran

    We currently have a home at the beach, which has 2 porches and a rooftop deck, all covered with fiberglass.
    We have found the rooftop deck unusable due to the heat during the day in the summer, and also requiring regular and very expensive maintenance. This rooftop deck sits over top of one of the bedrooms inside, so integrity of the decking material is of utmost importance.
    Do you know of any product that could be laid over the fiberglass deck, with some type of sealant or unlayment, which would prevent moisture from getting thru to the fiberglass deck?

  4. Mr. Ipe Hardwood Post author

    Deck tiles were designed for this type of application. Our ipe, cumaru, tigerwood, and massaranduba tiles are very strong and as low-maintenance as you can get. They’re also a breeze to install. Being natural wood products, they don’t retain heat like man-made materials do.

    Regarding underlayments, you shouldn’t need one. Unless your current fiberglass deck is leaking into your home? You current, exposed fiberglass deck should already have a waterproof barrier, so you should be able to just lay the tiles over top of it.

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