Ipe Gone Gray

Written by on November 13, 2019 in Common Issues with 0 Comments

Distinguished or just old looking?

It is one of the most common questions amongst ipe owners – whether to take on the rigorous maintenance required to preserve the beauty of the wood, or just let it age naturally because it is unlikely to ever rot.

You may find, like me, that as your interest in ipe grows, you start to see it in more of your travels. I am drawn to ipe where ever it catches my eye. And also in places where I go regularly. One such place is a coastal resort that I visit and check on each Fall.

It is a beautifully appointed resort on the ocean in Maine. There are numerous balcony decks facing one of the toughest year round exposures on the planet – full sun, prevailing ocean winds and salt air pounding on the facilities.

When there are drainage problems…

weathered ipe
Remarkably, this is a non-filtered photo…

To make it more challenging, the architectural details feature balcony decks with privacy walls and minimal open railings. Lots of good reasons for all that, but where does it leave the ipe decking after many years of this cramped lifestyle?

No doubt, it is quaint in ocean areas to recognize and appreciate the look of wood that turns that beautiful driftwood gray color as only Mother Nature can create. And that comes with some consequences.

Weathered ipe is not really suitable for barefooting anymore. The surface becomes dry, brittle and splintery. When wet, it becomes slippery. Also, there is checking and splitting.

The appeal of ipe is sensory. The look and feel are lost when it weathers too much. This is not a terrible failure in a resort setting of numerous small balcony decks. They are not traffic areas, just sitting spaces. But on a larger scale attached to your home, this condition would not be suitable for most ipe owners that I have worked with.

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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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