This is a question that is often addressed too late in the planning/execution of an ipe project. In a new ipe deck build, choosing a deck stain product seems to be a lower order priority in the grand scheme of building. And on a “re-do”, it is often one of the last decisions made in the hustle and bustle of getting the deck sanded or washed and ready for oil.
In the end, the product is immensely important to the “look” your deck will take on when the project is done. Product is also one of the most misunderstood aspects of an ipe project.
In 2015, we initiated a product transition. We started phasing Penofin out from being our primary ipe deck oil. We did this for numerous reasons, but mostly to see if we could put a product or two in the field that would outperform Penofin. Of course, this decision comes after careful testing and analysis.
[Note: if you are a member who uses Penofin, there is no cause for alarm. It may work fine in your situation. If it doesn’t, you can switch during a maintenance cycle, as we have.]
Reducing our usage of Penofin is a huge shift because our legendary Rules for Ipe were built around the use of the Penofin Marine Grade product. Rules for application should be product driven. But product formulations and options change. Ipe doesn’t really change. So, we have to change. And when you finish wood for a living, changing product is not easy.
Change the product, and most everything about the process will change too. Here is a look back and a look ahead at the world of ipe deck oils, from our angle as specialists in the field. With some particularly good news near the end.
It Still Has to be OIL
At least for now. Until some savvy manufacturer develops a non oil deck stain product that can satisfy ipe, oil it shall be. Within that parameter, it really can’t be an oil that forms a film on top of the deck surface. So, lets rule out Sikkens. And Arborcoat, which fails on two fronts (waterborne and filmy).
Product selection remains in the oil based penetrating stain realm, and there are many options in that class.
One of our primary pursuits at Topcoat Finishes is annual maintenance of ipe decks. We do maintenance on dozens of decks per year in our area (Vermont). The decks we service are located in either lakeside, mountain or pastorial settings with harsh seasonal exposures. All of our decks are serviced annually, and depending upon exposure, we do some twice per year (spring and fall).
We began noticing a few years ago that Penofin oil just couldn’t hold up to northern exposures, particularly around the lake. The combination of constant shade and moisture, often times with a quick burst of hot morning sun, was more than the Penofin could handle. We were using the Marine Grade, which should have been formulated to endure all of that.
But it didn’t. Too often it turned dark gray within six months. At that point, an ipe deck is a magnet for grime, which leads to a muddy black appearance. Once the ugly starts, it is a fast and slippery slope. So, we gradually started weaning our client decks off from Penofin, and transitioning them into other compatible penetrating oils. We are nearly complete in that transition.
Here’s a look at the top two products we have been replacing Penofin with.
Want to read more of this and other articles? Register or Login now!