Ipe Deck “Checking”

Written by on June 12, 2015 in Common Issues with 3 Comments

If you are here, you have probably read some of our ipe archives and have heard us refer to ipe deck “checking” as  a common and critical condition. It is very rare to see it in the early years of an ipe deck’s existence, but very common in the 5-15 year old decks, varying with type of exposure and maintenance habits.

ipe deck checking

Ipe deck asking for help.

Here is an extreme example that we have been maintaining for a few years. It is the perimeter band of a rather large ipe deck in a harsh eastern exposure in the mountains of Vermont.

This type of weathering is not unusual on wider (over 4″) boards like this, they develop “cupping”, which means they aren’t perfectly flat, and cup upward in a way that holds moisture.

Moisture, and straight up water (as in rain), dry out woods. Even woods like ipe, with excessive amounts of natural oils. As the wood dries out, it develops these splits in the wood, which actually cause the wood to open up and become entirely vulnerable to moisture going into the wood and drying it out further.

Solution? Adding oil annually. And only after proper surface prep.

Stay tuned for our upcoming ebook on how to identify issues, prep and apply finish properly for an annually happy outdoor living feature.

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About the Author

About the Author: Scott Burt is a wood finishing expert. IPE decks are one of the areas of expertise in which he is frequently published in paint and remodeling magazines. He also engages in clinics and speaking appearances on the topic. Ipehelp.com is where IPE owners and installers can engage with Scott. .


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  1. Alisonipe says:

    Am having new ipe deck installed. Using Pro Plug System for fastening. Will need to sand over Pro Plugs as well as the many rough boards and boards with water marks and sticker marks. Would it be best for me to sand entire deck surface with 80 grit for a smooth finish before applying stain? And what stain do you recommend? How long should I wait before applying stain?

    Thank you