Taking care of your Ipe deck

     New York decks live in a harsh environment. Raining one minute, and sunny the next...heat and humidity,
 and UV rays. Then snow, ice, and freezing cold for months. What makes it worse is that most of this punishment
occurs on one side only...the top of the deck. This causes movement and degradation of the wood. It will shrink,
expand, want to warp and cup. Fortunately, you have chosen Ipe for your decking. It will move, but have very
little degradation. There will be some, but you should be able to enjoy your deck for many years, with little or
no maintenance. The Ipe color will fade to a silvery gray, but remain sound.

     When I finish building your deck, I hand sand it with a random orbital sander, loaded with 50 grit sandpaper.
I sweep off the dust, and blow it away with a compressor. Then I apply Penofin (western red cedar formula). It's
available locally at Dykes lumber on 6th street, between 2-3rd aves. A gallon is usually enough for multiple applications,
depending on the size of your deck. It's best to apply the Penofin on a cloudy day, or when your deck is in shade.

Penofin doesn't like sunny days. I don't always have the luxury to wait for an optimal time to apply, so I have to
move a little quicker, before the Penofin gets tacky.

     I chose Penofin because it's easy to apply, and easy to find, and it looks great. The truth is, Ipe is extremely dense, and a
penetrating oil, like Penofin, isn't able to penetrate very deeply, except into the end grain at the ends of the boards. I make sure to
flood it on the ends, where more absorption occurs, and where the Ipe is most likely to check (fine splits or cracks).

     When I have completed your deck project, the deck will look as good as it ever will, but then the UV rays will cause
it to start fading. By the following spring, it will have faded to a silvery color, or be well on the way. The rate of fading
depends on whether your deck is in bare sun, partial, or full shade.

     Some of you will like the faded color, or come to accept it, as it requires seasonal maintenance to keep it looking like it did when I left.
If you want it to look like beautiful, tropical wood again, you can do it anytime...even years later.

     Sanding your deck is the best prep that you can do, before re-applying Penofin (or the sealer of your choice).
If you don't want to sand, get a deck wash product at Lowes or HD, or your local paint store...one that contains oxalic acid.
Follow the instructions.
You can also use a pressure washer, as Ipe is hard enough to handle the pressure. Maybe dial down the pressure a bit.

     Afterward, when the deck is dry, apply the Penofin. It's not necessary to coat the bottom of the boards, as they never
suffer from UV rays, rain, or snow.
In the paint section of Lowes, you can get a paint pad with a handle. They sell a combo
pack, which is made for applying sealers to decks and fences. You may also need a paintbrush. You will need a threaded
broomstick to screw onto the handle, so that you spend less time on your knees.

After you finish applying, you wipe it dry with some old t-shirts. Wipe until you don't see any shiny, oily spots.
Dispose of the oily rags immediately.
Soak them with water first. Don't leave them in the sun.
They can spontaneously combust, and cause a fire.

     What you'll need...


Done for another year. Enjoy your deck, and take care of it.
Any questions...call or email.