Let's Talk Hardwoods
Sun Frog got this inquiry today:
I’ve got a IPE wood deck. What is your recommendation for a sealer?
Here's how we responded:
Because IPE wood cells don’t have hollow centers like softwoods do but are much more solid, the wood is dense and much less penetrable to liquids (to water as well as Penetrating Sealers like ours). As such, for less frequent though more difficult re-do maintenance, you are more limited to surface coatings which in a lot of instances defeats the ability to still have the great natural wood surface of IPE. Clear surface finishes will barrierize but look like “varnish”, showing wear patterns and scratches in relatively short order. Semi-Tran and solid stains can be used but with them, “where’s my beautiful IPE that I paid so much for?" comes into play. They also show wear patterns and when old need a lot of work and usually Strippers (ugh) to remove and replace. If just re-coated, even worse surface build up takes place and your IPE is visually gone.
Oil based sealers (like Sun Frog’s) are easy to apply and they beautify IPE greatly, even though, because less gets into the wood, they deplete of oils and wear thin much faster than on soft woods and need re-doing often every six months to keep the wood looking AS great as some want. In the absence of doing anything your wood stays naked and it grays, which for many is OK anyway (the water repellant benefit of sealers for softwoods is almost irrelevant for IPE and other Hardwoods because water penetrates so much less in Hardwoods anyway).
To avoid the graying, sealing Hardwoods with penetrating sealers is easy to do and has great results. When the sealer is less robust visually than early on, re-coats can be easily applied (stain pad or roller makes the process quick and much less product is used than on softwoods) and followed by a “pre-dry” rag off after 30 minutes so build up of dried sealer excess doesn’t happen. With this approach, “Voilà”, your deck is beautiful again. (Caveat: Every two years or so before re-applying our Sealer I still recommend first using our Deck Cleaner with a scrubbing, followed with our Brightener Born Again, THEN re-sealing). This will optimally assure that no “varnish like” build up of sealer occurs and maximum beauty going forward results. It’s more time, work and expense, but if you love your deck, for some it’s worth it.
Owner, Sun Frog Products’s, Inc.