How to Clean Ipe Decking & Maintain Its Beauty
Learning how to clean ipe decking is crucial for any homeowner or contractor who wants to maintain the beauty and durability of this exotic Brazilian hardwood. A properly maintained ipe deck can withstand harsh weather conditions, resist decay, and retain its stunning natural color. While ipe decking is a dense, exotic wood that doesn’t require tons of maintenance, all decks require some kind of attention.
In this guide, we’ll delve into the specific steps involved in treating ipe decks, including preparing your deck for cleaning, avoiding harmful cleaning products, and applying wood stains to treat outdoor hardwoods. We’ll also share tips on deck restoration.
With this guide, your ipe decking will not only be clean but well-preserved, so you can enjoy your beautiful deck for many years to come
What is Ipe Wood?
Ipe (pronounced EE-pay) is renowned for being one of the hardest woods in the world, offering incredible durability and longevity. It has a natural resistance to pests, mold, rot, and decay. Ipe is a rich brown color with red and amber hues and has some natural variation, giving it a charming beauty. It’s incredibly versatile, slip resistant, and used in both commercial and residential decking projects.
Ipe is considered a premium natural hardwood choice for decking material on the market today.
Ipe Deck Maintenance: How to Clean an Ipe Deck
Even tough wood needs some TLC to stay fabulous. Maintaining your ipe decking is crucial to ensure its longevity and beauty.
Preparing Your Ipe Deck for Cleaning
Get your deck ready for a squeaky clean by following a few preparatory steps:
- Clear the deck of any furniture or obstacles that might get in your way. Move grills, plant pots, and anything else that would prevent you from getting to all parts of your deck.
- Next, grab a broom and sweep away any pesky debris or leaves that have made themselves at home on your deck. This would be a good time to note any mold or mildew so you can pay special attention to it.
- If you come across stubborn stains that refuse to budge, don’t panic. Consider giving those trouble spots a light sanding with some fine-grit sandpaper. It’s like a spa treatment for your deck.
- Take a close look at your ipe wood decking to check for cracks or splinters. These could pose problems for you later on.
Ipe-Safe Cleaning Product Options
Dirt build-up is a common issue with decking in general. There are several options for cleaning your ipe deck; the most effective cleaner for Ipe decking is a solution made from water and oxygen bleach, commonly known as the brand OxiClean.
Ready to make your deck sparkle? OxiClean is the gold standard cleaner to remove dirt and make your wood shine like a superstar. OxiClean removes dirt and tackles grime and other debris that may have taken residence on your deck. Just remember to be gentle with a soft-bristled brush or sponge to avoid any potential damage to your deck’s wood fibers.
Grab a natural bristle brush or sponge and mix some OxiClean with warm water in a bucket according to the directions (typically 1 cup of OxiClean to a gallon of warm water).
- Dip your brush or sponge into the magical OxiClean solution.
- Spread it over your deck, ensuring every nook and cranny gets some attention.
- Scrub away in circular motions, giving stubborn spots a little extra love.
- Let the OxiClean sit for 10-15 minutes, then rinse off any residue.
Remember, be gentle while scrubbing to avoid damaging the wood. If needed, repeat!
Once you’ve rinsed off all the OxiClean, give your deck time to dry before applying sealants or finishes. These will protect it from the sun and rain.
Penofin® Pro-Tech Cleaner
Another fantastic outdoor cleaner (which cleans almost everything) is Penofin®. Its hydrogen-based formula gets rid of grease, grime, dirt, organic stains, sap, mineral deposits, mold, mildew – you name it. It’s amazing with wood products, not to mention your outdoor furniture and cushions, glass, and tile. It’s also biodegradable, safe for your greenery and soil, and easy to use.
Here’s how to use it for general cleaning and maintenance:
- Sweep off any debris from the surface of what you’re cleaning.
- With a ratio of 1/2-1 cup of Penofin® to 1 gallon of clean water, mist liberally. (Don’t let it dry!)
- Scrub with a broom or non-metallic brush for about 10-15 minutes, and then rinse thoroughly.
Be sure to protect any metallic surfaces. You can also do a more thorough application involving some of the other Pro-Tech products to brighten your deck up to its original luster again!
Trisodium Phosphate (TSP)
If you’re dealing with tough stains like oil or grease, you might need to call in some additional cleaning power that woodworkers like to use. TSP Eco Cleaner is the superhero you need for those sticky situations.
TSP removes dirt and grime without harming greenery. For decks that need heavy-duty cleaning, mix 1.5 cups of TSP in 2 gallons of warm water. You can also stir in 1/2 cup or less of OxiClean if you notice mold or mildew on your deck boards. Brush the dissolved mixture onto the boards or sponge it onto stubborn spots. Be sure to rinse it with clean water.
Pressure Washing for Ipe Maintenance
The jury is out on whether a pressure washer should be used for regular cleaning of ipe decking. Power washers use high pressure, which can damage ipe. For those who feel comfortable with pressure washing, ensure you don’t go higher than 1200 psi. If you do plan to try it, it’s a good idea to test it out on a part of the deck that isn’t very prominent or visible.
Instead of a pressure washer, you could use a shop vac or a regular garden hose to clean off dirt and debris between planks.
Other Regular Cleaning Options for Ipe Deck Maintenance
You might consider a couple of other market products when cleaning your deck.
Murphy’s Oil Soap Wood Cleaner
Murphy’s is a product that’s been around for a long time and is generally a trusted cleaning brand. It’s environmentally friendly, kind to plants, and can help bring out the natural beauty of wood products.
Mix 1/4 cup (or 1/2 cup if your deck is very dirty) of Murphy’s Oil Soap Wood Cleaner with a gallon of warm water. Use a mop or soft-bristled scrub brush to Clean the decking with a mop or a soft-bristled scrub brush, and rinse well.
Defy Wood Deck Cleaner
Defy is another oxygenated product and might even remove any graying of your ipe deck from the weathering process. It also removes mill scale, which can help you to better seal and stain your deck. Use six ounces to one gallon of warm water, rinse, and let it completely dry.
Mold and mildew: they’re the party crashers you never invited. If you notice them growing on your deck, look for a cleaner containing a mildewcide to kill off the fungi. Oxygenated cleaners like OxiClean are great for getting rid of mold and mildew.
Whatever you do, regular household bleach is not a good idea. It will strip the wood of its natural oils and damage its lignin.
RAD Guard RTU is a no-rinse cleaner and preventative that removes and prevents stains caused by mold, mildew, and algae on decking. It cleans without pressure washing, scrubbing, or rinsing and has no bleach, chlorine, acid, sodium hydroxide, or phosphates. You can use it over painted, stained, and sealed deck surfaces too.
Note that it’s not a product for prepping wood – it’s simply an anti-mildew/algae product that helps prevent those stains from returning.
Aside from cleaning, sealing your ipe decking with a high-quality, oil-based sealer will protect it from UV rays and moisture damage. Let your deck dry completely after cleaning before moving on to any sealing or treating.
Treating ipe means applying an oil-based finish that brings out its natural color and protects it from moisture and UV rays. Check out products like DeckWise Ipe Oil Hardwood Deck Finish.
- Step 1: Slather on an oil finish with a brush or roller, covering all surfaces evenly.
- Step 2: Let the oil soak in for about 15 minutes, then wipe off the excess oil with a clean rag.
- Step 3: Give your deck a full day (around 24 hours) to dry before returning the furniture or walking on it.
Treat your ipe deck at least once a year, depending on the weather and exposure, to keep it looking good.
Ipe will last untreated as long as treated – between 40 and 75 years or more. However, untreated wood exposed to the sun’s UV rays eventually turns silver-gray. An oil rub with a UV inhibitor once or twice a year will do the trick to keep ipe’s rich dark brown with reddish-gold highlights.
How to Restore an Ipe Wood Deck
If your ipe wood deck has lost its luster or shows signs of wear and tear, don’t worry.
After you’ve given the deck a good cleaning, it’s now time for sanding ipe. Grab a power sander with 80-grit sandpaper and remove any remaining dirt or stains. This will prep the surface for sealing and make it look smooth.
Rinse off any dust with water and let your deck dry again before applying sealant. Look for a sealant specifically designed for tropical hardwoods like DeckWise Ipe Oil Hardwood Deck Finish.
Now, grab a brush or roller and apply the sealant evenly. Ensure that all corners and crevices are thoroughly coated. Patience is vital, so give it 24-48 hours to dry before returning your deck furniture.
Note: Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using cleaning agents and sealants to avoid deck disasters.
Keeping Your Ipe Deck Looking Good
In between cleanings, there are a few other tips we can recommend to keep your deck in tip-top shape:
- Stay Swept: Regularly sweep off leaves, dust, and debris from your Ipe decking to prevent buildup.
- No Puddles Allowed: Say no to standing water on your deck after rain or cleaning to avoid mold growth
- Catch Problems Early: Keep an eye out for wear and tear so you have less headache later.
Being a little proactive throughout the year will make your annual cleaning much more manageable.
Contact Us For Your Next Decking Project
Are you looking to get started on building your own ipe deck? Our team at Decks & Docks will guide you on building with this highly durable, gorgeous hardwood to make your deck last a lifetime.
Drop us a line or give us a call to ask a question – we’ll get you to the right people, right away, so you can get started today.
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