Reader Question: 3 Days with Tacky Oil

Written by on August 23, 2015 in Member Questions with 1 Comment



tacky oil

Most penetrating oils need to be wiped when applied to ipe.

Hi Scott,

We used Ipe Oil to finish our deck.

We did not wipe off enough oil from the wood when we applied it. It now looks shiny and still tacky after three days.

Do you think it will harden up?

Is there some type of chemical to wipe over and reduce amount of oil built up?

Your comments would be appreciated.



Hi Joe

This is a common scenario, and tacky oil makes it impossible to enjoy your deck. When people start applying oil on ipe, it looks so great that one would just assume that the ipe will accept the oil like normal wood does.

We have recently discovered a couple of oil formulations that don’t need to be wiped, but most do. 

There is a solution that you can mix, and with a little elbow grease, resolve this problem.

Tri-sodium Phosphate is the product. TSP comes in a box, and it is in powder form. Mix 1/2 cup per 2 gal of warm water until it dissolves into a cloudy solution. Get Scotchbrite pads at the hardware store if you can (larger than sponges). Wear knee pads and rubber gloves, and be careful not to drip any of the solution on sections you won’t be treating. If not applied cleanly and carefully, spotting can occur. Put your mix pail on a drop cloth of some sort so that you don’t leave rings on the deck.

Don’t scrub too hard. Think of it more like buffing. If you do it just right, you may not need to freshen up the oil afterwards. If you scrub too hard, you may end up at bare wood. Balance is key here.


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. is where IPE owners and installers can engage with Scott. .


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  1. says:

    Great advice. I just applied Ready Seal to a 10yr old Ipe deck that had been through many finishes. I square buff sanded with 80 grit. I experienced a bit of standing Ready Seal a couple of hours after application. I did apply very thick. I wiped off excess with rags. I now have just a few areas that are showing “fish eye” and a bit filmy. I’m going to wipe the whole deck down softly with a mineral spirit soaked in hopes to even out the whole finish and give uniformity. I’ll report results. Thank you !

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