Ipe Deck Maintenance: When is it Time?

Written by on August 30, 2015 in Common Issues with 0 Comments

Another of the most common questions we receive from ipe deck owners.

The answer is pretty simple. When your deck starts to look dull, gray and faded out, it is time to maintain. In other words, you probably know how ipe is supposed to look – rich, deep red and brown tones – and when those begin to fade, it is time.


Learn to identify when your ipe deck needs to be maintained and how to make sure it is done correctly at

Sounds easy enough to say, but it is subtle how it happens. Oiled ipe fades gradually in most cases. You won’t notice it from day to day, or even week to week. That is why it is best to check things out every spring and fall. Seasonally, you will notice a big difference in the look of your deck.

It is so easy these days to snap a couple of iphone pictures and stick them in a file where they are time stamped and easily documented. That is how we track our client decks at Topcoat. We do dozens per year, and each one gets a file that grows with every season. We can not only check how the deck looked last fall, but we can compare to how it looked three years ago or the year it was built. That is the best way to be sure.

To get you started on training your eye to recognize the signs of weathering ipe deck wood, here is a sequence showing one of our 2015 client decks in a maintenance cycle:

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Note that in the “before” picture, the deck is certainly in no danger of rotting or falling apart due to lack of maintenance. But, it definitely isn’t looking its best. Whether it is a front entry or a private balcony, and ipe deck is best when regularly maintained.

The “How to” is the Real Question…

Sometimes it is best to pressure wash ipe decks, other times they are best sanded. And in more extreme cases, ipe deck maintenance requires both pressure washing and sanding prior to oil finish application. Do the wrong prep in the wrong situation and the results will not parallel the time and resources spent.

Unfortunately, the decision on exactly how to maintain ipe decks varies by situation…weather exposure, traffic patterns, history of the deck itself. If there was a universal answer, it would be easy.

That is half of the reason why exists: to help people take the guesswork and mystery out of ipe deck maintenance and enjoy the aesthetic experience of outdoor living with ipe from year to year. The other reason for the existence of this site is to help folks through the building process of an ipe deck, after which they segue into the annual maintenance cycles of ipe.

This site is built to provide support to all ipe owners.  To join, have a look at the membership options on our Registration Page.

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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