Mahogany Deck Help
Applying a preservative to Ipe is not recommended. The wood is very dense and the chemicals do not penetrate below the surface, and besides the ipe has its own natural decay defenses, so the process not necessary.
It is recommended that after cross-cutting, all fresh end cuts should be properly sealed. We recommend a good paraffin or water based wax emulsion end sealer applied with a foam brush. End sealing helps reduce most end checking before it begins. The sooner the cross cuts are sealed after cutting and/or end trimmed, the more effective it will be. All wood typically comes to you air dried and will continue to move, drying or taking on moisture, depending on what the local conditions are.
It has been suggested that the wood be put on site a number of weeks ahead of use, so that it can be acclimatized to the local environment. Place it in a location, that provides good air circulation, but not exposed to direct sunlight.
A sealer coat is not required to "seal" the wood. Ipe's natural density will prevent water absorption, to prevent cupping, splintering and twisting issues common with traditional softwood decking materials. It will remain smooth and splinter free, aging to a silver patina, but I have seen suggestions that you apply a one time coat of a stabilizing agent (such as Seasonite by Flood Co.) right after the installatin. This will slow the acclimatization process, as the wood seasons to the local conditions and prevent small surface checking that can occur on some of the wood.
Ipe can be sealed, to preserve its natural colour (a reddish brown). Use a product with a strong UV inhibitor. This is a list of products that have been recommended, but I personnally have not used any of them... I'm resting on various other peoples expertise:
Penefin for hardwood decks
Waterlox Marine Sealer & Finish
Cabot Australian Timber Oil
Boiled Linseed Oil + spar vanish combination
These finishes typically last for 1-4 years, but that will obviously vary significantly, depending on what area of the country you live in, and the weather exposure.
If you have allowed the wood to age to its silver colour and now have changed your mind and would like the russet brown colour back again... you can use a pressure washer on the surface, and with some care get the original colour back.
You must try and maintain an even travel across the wood surface, or you'll leave "lap" marks on the deck, as the water penetrates to different levels on the wood surface.... like anything else try a small area first and gain some experience.
I've been told that its best with a commercial grade machine capable of 2500-3000 psi pressure and in some severe cases, the use of a deck wood stripper in conjunction with the power washer is necessary. This should remove most of the gray colored surface film and expose the original wood coloration..... then top coat as above.
Painting & Varnishing IPE:
The wood is difficult to paint or varnish. Surface preparation to remove yellowish lapachol powder may improve these finishing qualities. I am told it will take a stain well, though, I haven't actually tried that myself ... maybe experiment and let me know!
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