How to Seal Ipe Wood

Ipe wood does not need to be sealed like traditional softwoods such as redwood, pine and cedar.

These softwoods have an open grain structure that allows water to penetrate deep into the wood cells like a sponge.

As a result softwoods need a waterproofing sealer that forms a top coat to keep water from penetrating the wood.

If softwoods are left unsealed for prolonged time periods they can deteriorate and rot much faster.

Homeowner sanding deck stain and sealer off an old cedar deck

These top coats will flake and peel off after only a year or two. Then ideally you would sand the entire deck and apply another sealer on top of the deck.

This is a lot of maintenance and what most people think of when it comes to sealing a wood deck.

What Maintenance Does Ipe Wood Require?

Unlike softwood decking Ipe wood does not require a waterproofing sealer to keep the wood from rotting.

Ipe is over 3 times harder than Teak and if you leave Ipe untreated it will turn a beautiful silver grey.

Grey Ipe Wood Deck
Grey Ipe wood deck

When Ipe turns grey it still shows the beautiful wood grain and maintains all of its durability and will still last up to 75 years or more.

Ipe is so dense and contains a natural oil that if you tried to seal it like you do a traditional wood deck it would peel right off.

Maintaining The Color of Ipe Wood

Ipe Oil
Ipe Oil applied to Ipe wood decking

The sun will bleach the color out of most materials and wood is no exception. UV rays are what causes wood to turn grey outdoors.

To stop Ipe wood from turning grey we recommend applying a special oil that’s specifically formulated for hardwoods like Ipe wood.

This is what most people mistake when they think I have to seal my Ipe wood.

The oil keeps the sun from bleaching the rich brown color from the Ipe wood. It’s basically like sunscreen for your Ipe.

Ipe Oil will not flake or peel off like a sealer on a traditional wood deck so it’s much lower maintenance.

Ipe Wood Maintenance Instructions

Maintaining your Ipe wood is typically very simple and these steps will help you keep your Ipe wood looking good for many years.

Step 1 – Wash your Ipe wood deck

You want to make sure our deck surface is free from dirt, debris, pollen and etc… before applying the oil on your Ipe wood.

Follow all the instructions on the can of Ipe Oil. You want to make sure you have adequate weather with the right temperatures and no rain in the forecast.

If needed you can pressure wash your deck with a wide angle fan tip nozzle. Do not use a concentrated fine tip as those can even damage concrete.

Step 2 – Apply the Ipe Oil

After allowing your deck to thoroughly dry you can apply the Ipe oil using a brush or roller. Make sure to follow all the instructions on the can of Ipe Oil.

This process goes pretty fast since the oil spreads very easy and saturates the Ipe wood evenly.

This is not like water sealing cedar or pressure treated where you need to brush it back and forth to work the sealer into the grain to make sure everything has a top coat.

Ipe Oil has a viscosity very similar to water and Ipe wood is so dense the roller will easily coat the boards.

Step 3 – Wipe up any excess Ipe Oil

Ipe wood is so dense it will only soak up so much of the Ipe Oil. You need to go back with a clean rag after 10 minutes and wipe up any excess or wet looking spots.

This will keep your Ipe deck from getting tacky. After that you can dispose of the rags properly (follow the instructions on the can) oil based rags balled up often can start on fire.

14 thoughts on “How to Seal Ipe Wood”

  1. Great information for diy….I’d like to take use this product for my deck attached to the garage

  2. I applied IPE oil on a customer’s deck, she told me that not other products were used before on the IPE deck, after a while some areas still very sticky.
    I found out that used Castor oil on it.
    The areas that didn’t have Castor oil look beautiful.
    How do I get rid of the sickness, it doesn’t go away.

  3. You can try wiping them with mineral spirits, if that doesn’t work you will need to sand the deck which we recommend 100 grit. Also when applying Ipe Oil in the future make sure you wipe up any spots that still look wet after 10 minutes. The wood is so dense it will only soak up so much of the oil anything that it does not soak up will be sticky and tacky on the surface.

  4. I’ve used your Ipe deck tiles and when I initially oiled them they looked amazing. It was in the summer so a lot of sunlight and heat, the shine only lasted a couple months max and then it was faded and dull. How often do you have to re apply the oil to keep the shine before it fades.

  5. When it’s new you might have to apply twice per year. If it get a lot of sunlight and you want it to always look like new applying the oil twice per year may be necessary.

  6. I see a lot of brighteners being offered to “clean” ipe above and beyond just washing it down. It’s been 2 yrs since we last oiled the deck. Do you recommend a brightener?

  7. Emmitt, I just used some brightener on my IPE deck and it pretty much was a waste of time and money. It bleached some areas, and not others. I ended up power washing, using the brightener and then doing some light sanding before applying the oil. I would just skip the brightener step.

  8. I pressure washed our patio set and oiled it but the grey is coming through the oil? How do I make this stop?

  9. How long has it been grey? If the color of the Ipe comes back when the wood is wet then the oil should keep the color the rich brown. If you pressure washed the wood and it was still grey after then too much time has likely passed and you need to sand the wood then apply Ipe oil.

  10. Hello. Our deck guy applied a coat of IPE oil on our newly installed deck and 80% looks great. The other 20 still had grey showing through. Im assuming we just apply a second coat to those areas once first coat is dry?

  11. It depends on how newly installed the deck is. If it’s a few months you should be able to apply more oil provided there is no dirt, pollen, etc… on the deck surface which there usually always is something your eyes can’t see. Therefore a light power wash with a wide fan tip is usually recommended after the deck has dried thoroughly you can apply more oil.

  12. Hi, I bought some Yellow Balau from you recently (which I think is like Ipe in terms of being naturally waterproof). We want to keep its natural color, so guess we should use an oil. However, it looks like if we use Ipe Oil, the wood color will go a bit darker, which we want to avoid. Is there a hard wood oil that basically keeps the color of hard wood the same as its original state, or should we perhaps use a clear sealer instead? Thanks for any suggestions.

  13. Most woods are photo sensitive and will darken a bit when exposed to sunlight until they eventually turn grey. Most UV blocking oils are pigmented and will darken the wood slightly as these pigments are whats blocking the UV mainly to keep the wood from turning grey. Best bet is to try several products in small areas and see what you like best. This way if you don’t like something you can sand it and pick which finish you like best.

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