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.
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.
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
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.