Reader Question: Failed Arborcoat on Ipe…

Written by on August 23, 2015 in Member Questions with 0 Comments

Scott, please advise.



Our 8 year old IPE deck was not properly maintained and when we reached out to our painter last year, he said the original oil product was not appropriate due to the few years since it was done, harsh winters, sun, etc.

He convinced us to let him use BM Arborcoat, Waterborne, Deck &Siding Solid. What a mistake!

Now after a year, it is peeling off.

What do you recommend ? Sanding then re-oiling?

Picture was taken at high noon thus the shadows!

Linda M.


Hi Linda

Sorry to see and hear of this problem. This is a case where the old adage “water and oil don’t mix” comes into play. A waterborne stain stands very little chance of penetrating ipe. So it sits on top, relying on adhesion (ability to stick) to hold it on the surface. Over time, the natural oils in the grain of the ipe reject the waterborne from underneath, and the elements (sun, wind, rain) terrorize it from the topside, leading to the unsightly mess in your photo. Further, putting any kind of a solid stain on ipe is just bad advice and a good indication that the finisher may not be qualified for the job.

Here is how I would recommend resolving this one: 

Chemically stripping waterborne or latex products with a pressure washer is a miserable process, even when the finish is in an advanced state of failure such as yours. So, mechanically stripping with sanders is the most practical and efficient way.

First, scrape all of the loose flaking areas and sweep thoroughly. The sanding is best done with an upright sander in the main body of the floor, and a handheld power sander for the edging. You may need to use low grit abrasives at first. It is not unusual to use 24 or 40 grit paper on the first pass, and then work your way up through the grits to finish at 80 grit. In other words, it is multiple passes with the sanders, but it is possible to make this deck look as good as new.

It is best to refinish as soon as possible after sanding, as the grain is wide open and vulnerable to contamination and undesirable staining. Be sure to carefully vacuum the surface just prior to finishing.

And use oil, no matter what they say!

All of these steps and concepts are covered in more detail in our ebook which is available through this site.

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


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