Common Questions

CLICK HERE for a recent article by Scott in Professional Deck Builder magazine, addressing many of the common IPE questions we receive.

Below is a sampling of more questions that will be specifically addressed on this site and in our yet to be released book.

Q. I am very concerned that my IPE deck is ruined. My inexperienced contractor, applied a Benjamin Moore Premium Exterior Stain Exterior Deck and Siding Stain- Alkyd Translucent (326). This is after I explained to him it is IPE wood and only use IPE type oil. Now, I have a dark red stain on my deck. He also did not apply correctly and there are paint brush marks, bubbles etc.

He has tried 2 times now to strip the deck back to the beautiful ipe wood using a benjmin moore stain remover. He is coming back to apply the remover a third time.

Do you have any suggestions to save my deck?
Thank you.

Q. Hello, I have a 80 ft by 12 ft Ipe deck that is 7 years old and very high off the ground. We have never done a thing to it for fear of doing the wrong thing. It is obviously grey at this point. I did power wash it last year and in 4 weeks it looked like I had never done a thing. Unfortunately it is very rough on the railings injecting splinters in your hands if you run your hands along it. The floor boards which are 5 1/4″ wide are not nearly as rough. We are not at all happy with the grey but have been so fearful of having anyone come into finish it as we had heard horror stories of applying the wrong finish. So glad to hear you have so much info about how to deal with this glorious wood that is, as well, quite temperamental. Our deck faces the east and we live on top of a mountain in NY state that at times has it’s own weather. You probably get that in Vermont. It can get very windy and the sun bakes our back deck like you wouldn’t believe. Should we apply the Marine varnish (which we applied to some Mahoghany doors on this deck and didn’t last 1 year) or something else and …. how often do you suspect we will need to do it…..every year?? God help me. ;( I appreciate your help, Sharon

Q. We have had our ipe deck for 5 years. We have pressure washed and finished it every year. We were told when it was installed that sikkens was the only way to go. We have found it almost impossible each year to get out the dirt and mildew as we have a heavy tree canopy and I expect too much sikkens. The work is too hard. We are trying to figure out a better way even if in the short run it requires more work. I have been tempted to just let it go a couple years, continuing to pressure wash, and try to clean off as much of the existing residue as I can. We would appreciate any suggestions. Thank you, Linda

Q. Scott – The contractor who just refinished our ipe porch and balconies screwed up. He was the one who originally painted them when the house was newly built, so we trusted he would use the right product. We came home to find that they had been stained with Deckscapes SW water based solid stain. Needless to say that the beautiful grain is gone and it is now covered in matte mahogany color. It is going to be a mess to have them stripped them now. What to do? If we keep this for a year or so and then strip them and coat them with an appropriate stain, is it going to cause any harm to the wood? Any suggestions are appreciated. ~Anna

Q. Hi Scott,
We live in northern NJ and have been following your blog for quite some time. In August, 2013, we installed an Ipe tongue and groove flooring on our front porch (+/- 8’0″ x 22’0″), which is open on two sides, but covered. We followed all of your recommendations for the installation (oil all sides and ends of Ipe prior to installation; wipe off excess oil in timely manner; use Penofin Oil, etc.) It came out beautifully!
Since we don’t want the silver grey look that comes with the natural aging process, this past Saturday (11/2), we followed your instructions once again. We used Cabot Wood Brightener to clean the porch floor. It did a fantastic job. Once it dried, we re-finished with the Penofin Oil.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t paying close enough attention to the person who was helping us. He did not remove enough of the excess oil. I didn’t realize it until the following morning. As you can imagine, this has left a large portion of the floor tacky. I spent the better part of yesterday (Sunday) afternoon trying to hand rub out the tackiness with a lint-free cotton cloth. This worked (somewhat) on two sections, however, the sun went down, the temperature dropped (to 40-45 degrees) and the center section is still very sticky/tacky.
Is there any way to rectify this? The porch is our primary entry and I don’t want to track the sticky oil into the house or out onto the stone steps. Any suggestions would be GREATLY appreciated.
Thanks so much, Lisa.

Q. We just had a tongue&groove ipe floor installed on our covered screen porch. It appears that the workers spilled something on the floor that has left a dark stain(approx 5″ diameter) , it also looks like there are water stains in the form of a line along the 24″ height walls from where snow maybe sat before the screens were installed. Is there any hope in removing these stains? ~ Jean

Q. We just had our ipe delivered for our deck. Some Boards look great and others have many large rough raised areas that don’t look quite right to me. Looks like saw blade marks or something. We had ordered grade A or premium and did not expect such inconsistency. Is this normal ? Would a thorough sanding correct it? Also there are some long cracks in the 4×4 posts and I am thinking that is not good either. We have the manuf coming to look at it before installation but would love your comments. We are in central pa and plan to let the deck weather grey. ~ Thank you, Trish


Q. Dear Scott, Is it acceptable to clean an IPE deck with a pressure washer? I was told by a construction friend that it was not good for the wood grain. If it is okay, would you also recommend some type of deck cleaner to use alone or in combination with the pressure washer?
Also, we bought the house from someone who installed the deck about 6 months before they moved out and they had been using Australian Timber Oil [clear]. Would you recommend Penofin Penetrating oil over the Australian? ~ Thanks, Rick

Q. Do I need to clean my new ipe before applying oil on all the sides? I was going to hose it down, let it dry 48 hours, and then apply Penofin Marine Oil. Do I NEED to wash it with Penofin First Step before I use the Marine Oil? Also, are there any circumstances where sanding ipe is OK or will sanding cause the ipe oil to surface and interfere with the absorption of the Penofin Marine Oil? ~ Thanks, Roxane


Q. Hi, we have an ipe porch that has not been cared for in several years. We finished washing and scrubbing it with TSP and mild bleach solution and as it was rinsed it looked wonderful. Now that it is dried, it looks gray again. Will the application of a finish/oil restore the color, or do I need to do something else? I am wondering about what finish as I can not find the Penofin marine but can find Penofin hardwood or Flood CWF hardwoods.  ~ thanks, Alisson