Options for Finishing an Ipe Deck

Finishers chime in with approaches that have worked for them on Ipe decks. December 30, 2007

I have a client that is installing a new 1000 sq ft ipe deck (2x4 s4s). I am looking for options on a film finish and a non-film finish. I'd prefer a non film finish. We will most likely pre-finish the boards in our shop so we can coat all sides. Any ideas?

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor B:
There are several exterior wood stains and finishes available for your application. Akzo's Sikkens line has a nice product that should work well and TWP has a stain that may work also. I do recommend contacting their customer service people for recommendations, though.

From contributor A:
Penofin is a watery non-film finish that will remind you of Watco Oil. That is the typical finish for ipe in our neck of the woods (CT).

From contributor T:
TWP is a good option. You can go film or non-film with it. Make sure you follow directions exactly. You can put on two coats immediately, but it must be within a 45 minute timeframe. After 45 minutes, chemicals in the TWP start to come to the surface that can ruin adhesion. But I would say with 1000 sq ft, you would be restricted to one coat a day (if you use the catalyst) or every other day. TWP must be prepped before the second coat (scuff sand and syn steel wool). For a non-film build, two coats would suffice. I recommend you get the Max-UV series. It's double the price but it will extend the maintenance cycle. You can also tint it with automotive pigments if needed.

Ipe is an incredibly tough wood and could be considered oily. You're probably safer going with a non-build type finish. If your customer lets it go to failure before refinishing, it will be much easier to fix.

From contributor P:
As far as a film building product, I would only use Sikkens DEK finish. This product is unreal, but needs a lot of maintenance! All six sides must be coated prior to installing and then one every year. This is truly an amazing product. As far as non-film building, we have used a ton of Sikkens srd with no great results in terms of longevity (the same as with Cabot's Australian Timber Oil). These products look great the first year, but seem to ruin the wood as the seasons pass.

One thing we have been doing as of late is using California Paint's wood stabilizer. This product will grey over time, but a light washing and a recoat is all that is needed. We have found this product to let the wood gray naturally, but also keep from decaying. Is it as pretty as the others? No, but it is a pretty maintenance free way to go!