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Hardwood Deck Stain Tips for Ipe

Maintaining an exotic hardwood such as Ipe requires a little more patience and the proper deck stain. The vital key to consider when choosing a lasting finish is the density of the wood. This determines how deep the stain will be able to penetrate.

Deck Staining Tips Hardwood Ipe

Messmers Hardwood Stain

Ipe decking is extremely dense and tough for a deck stain to penetrate. On newer Ipe wood a deck stain may only penetrate as little as a few millimeters. For this reason, any type of deck stain will only last about a year, so regular maintenance definitely comes into play.

Most decks stains are too low in resins and pigment solids to penetrate Ipe wood and wouldn’t last long or be very appealing. Special deck stains specifically designed for Ipe are necessary to get as much protection as possible. Ipe deck stains are designed to give a more lasting and maintainable finish. They are rich in oil alkyd resins that are more effective when dealing with limited penetration from dense wood.

Once the proper exotic hardwood deck stain is found, it’s best to use a stain pad to push the stain into the wood. After the stain sits on the wood for a few minutes it’s important to wipe away any excess stain that has gathered on the surface. Not doing so will result in a poor appearance and conditions that will cause the hardwood stain to fail before it should.

Even with a quality hardwood Ipe deck stain, yearly maintenance is still necessary. That’s just the nature of the beast when dealing with an Ipe deck. Maintenance can be done by lightly washing the deck with a deck cleaner and allowing it to dry. A thin maintenance coat of the same Ipe deck stain can then be applied in the manner mentioned above.

Ipe wood makes for some of the most beautiful decks but they do require a little more maintenance than other types of wood decking. Using the proper hardwood deck stain will give you better lasting results.

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53 responses to “Hardwood Deck Stain Tips for Ipe”

  1. marco says:

    also in order to keep the beautiful color you always need to spend some time and money on your deck otherwise any kind of deck will grey out over time due to UV lighting

  2. David says:

    What is the best way to get metal stains that were from my metal chairs off my

  3. Sam says:

    My contractor just installed a tongue in groove Ipe deck on our covered, screened porch this week. They did not stain all 4 sides prior to installation and the deck is at least 6 feet off the ground. Is that a problem? The temps here are cold and will not be over 50 degrees until spring. Do you recommend we wait until spring to oil? Should we powerwash and use a cleaner prior to oiling? Which cleaners do you recommend? Do you recommend the penofin or messmers or Ipe Oil for this application?


  4. Eve says:

    My pressure treated deck is now 3 years old and has never been stained. The wood began to cup just weeks after completion ( I believe the wood was not placed with the rounded part of the grain on top). i have mildew on the deck close to the house as that area gets less sun. I have scheduled a professional to power wash the the deck. Should he use a clearer AND a brightener? Also, I am confused re the best sealer or semi transparent stain to use. Should it be a water based with synthetic resins for mildew, insects etc or a product such as TWP. Thank you for your advice!

    • Eve, the pressure washer should use a cleaner and wood brightener to aid with the cleaning. If you have mold issues I would look at the Defy Extreme Stain for this.

  5. Vinnie says:

    I'm power washing our Mahogany Deck and was told to use an Oil Based stain instead of water based. What do you recommend? Thx.

  6. Jennifer says:

    I hired a contractor to remove sun dmamge from very large Ipe plant containers. He power washed and then applied a horrible stain by using a roller of all things. It is awful,howdy I remove his mistakes and begin again.

  7. Chris says:

    We have an Ipe Dock on a lake. We have used penofin for the staining for about 3 times over the last 10 years. Now the treatments seem to last shorter and shorter times. We are going to pressure wash the wood (even though the builder told us not to). We are debating if we should we stick with the penofin or try the Armstrong Clark. Thoughts?

  8. Marc says:

    I have tongue and groove Ipe on my back porch. The contractor used Messmer UV plus Natural on it and I want to strip it off. It was applied pretty heavy in some spots. Any suggestion on a stripper. I have found a product I plan to apply produced by Shield Products out of Florida. He claims it will last 10 years. It is a flouropolymer. Then you top coat with Teak Shield.

  9. Joe says:

    I live in Maryland and have an Ipe deck that I've just stripped of a previous stain and applied a neutralizer 4 days ago. The weather is not cooperating for an adequate number of rainless days for deck drying and stain application. The forecast doesn't look great either for the next week. How long can I wait before I need to re-clean and neutralize prior to stain application? I'm using an oil-based semi-transparent stain, neutral color (Messmer's). Your site rated Messmer's pretty highly, but considering the previous post, is there something else I should know about it that's not covered in your hardwood deck stain reviews?

    • Joe, we like the Messmers. It lasts a season on IPE and can be easily cleaned and reapplied annually. You should be okay for a week or two. Hopefully it will not rain longer than that.

  10. Thomas says:

    Thanks for all your info. VERY helpful. I have a few questions on Ipe that I hope you can help with.
    1. Penofin Marine Oil vs AC Hardwood? We have a local specialty lumber store who says the majority of high end deck builders in our Seattle-area neighborhood use the Penofin Marine. Apparently it doesn't color the wood and is very easy to reapply.

    2. Raw/New Ipe: Should it be Sanded? I've been told not to sand because it closes wood pores. I was told to wash only. However, when I washed with a mix of water/TSP/oxiclean, a lot of color ran off the wood. Now, I have water stains from the different colors in the wood, I'm guessing oil, that ran. I tried to oxiclean them off but they don't come off. So now, it looks like sanding is the easiest solution.

    3. Seal all sides and end cuts? I've been told to seal all sides and end cuts. And NOT to use Ancorseal/wax because of bleeding. Instead, to just use a very heavy dose of the stain/sealer used.

    Again, thanks so much for the help. I really appreciate it.

    • Thomas,

      1. AC Hardwood is better than Penofin. Penofin does add color to the wood.
      2. Clean the wood for the prep is much easier. Not a fan of sanding. If you do than you will need to rinse heavily to remove the dust.
      3. No need to seal all sides but you can use the stain for the end cuts.

  11. anna says:

    The contractor who just refinished our ipe porch and balconies screwed up. He was the one who originally painted them when the house was newly built, so we trusted he would use the right product. We came home to find that they had been stained with Deckscapes SW water based solid stain. Needless to say that the beautiful grain is gone and it is now covered in matte mahogany color. It is going to be a mess to have the stripped them now. What to do? If we keep this for a year or so and then strip them and coat them with an appropriate stain, is it going to cause any harm to the wood? Any suggestions are appreciated.

  12. Ellen says:

    I just had an ipe deck installed. The contractor wants to seal it now and the weather is still cooperating. The Armstrong Clark dealer says I should wait til the spring. Your section on new decks says that you should wait a few months before sealing a new deck, is this true for ipe too?

  13. Rob says:

    I want to put a UV protectant on garapa boards being used in a truck bed. Foot traffic should be limited to hay rides and tail gating, but the wood will take a beating from the sun. I'd like to keep the natural yellow of the garapa. Is there a UV protectant I can apply that will not change the color of the wood yet still protect it from the sun? Messemer's Natural or Ipe Oil? or other?

    • Rob, all stains will change or enhance the color of the garapa. You must have a tint if you want UV protection. Stains like Messmers and IPE Oil will enhance similar to as if wet with water.

  14. Joanne, a few months. Need to clean the wood first to prep.

  15. Ed says:

    I have an Ipe deck that has been treated with Thompson water seal, it has been about 3yrs since the last treat meant. how do I prep it for the new stain? do I need to sand it down? also we have some sections that are beign repaired and wont be done for another 6mos-1yr should I wait till this all done before applying the new stain?

  16. Terry B. says:

    I am installing a new tongue and groove IPE deck here in Florida. What do you suggest as the best treatment for it? When I wet the face of the deck board with a sponge, the grain and natural look of the IPE is gorgeous, so I would really prefer an oil over a stain because I only want to highlight the IPE's natural characteristics.

  17. shaybreed says:

    Thank you for the feedback. What I failed to mention is that an architect I'm working with suggested an IPE T&G deck installed on slopped joists to provide a more water protected area for the another deck below which is the main entry of my home. Unfortunately, after our first heavy rain, the T & G is anything but water tight. Because of the characteristics of each board, there is between 1/32' to 3/16" margin between each deck board being tight against one another and the water is getting thru. I was intending on using clear caulking in the gaps prior to using the IPE oil as you suggested. I would carefully work the caulk into the seams then quickly sponge up the excess to prevent the caulk from remaining on the face of the deck board. What are your thoughts on this? The deck is mainly shaded, so I anticipate the IPE oil may last more than a year. Do you think a clear caulk will be affected by the IPE Oil? And do you see any possible negative results of my intentions of trying to caulk the seams?

    • Shaybread, caulk will not work. It is not “stainable” with the decking stain. What will happen is that everywhere that the caulk is applied, the stain will not penetrate the wood. Basically the areas where the stain penetrated will have a rich reddish brown color and where the caulk has dried or setup in the gaps, it will look much lighter or have no color. I do not think sponging off will get rid of it 100% either. It may be possible to get a caulk color that would blend with the stained color of the IPE. I would get some test boards and see what if that would work.

      Shaded decks do last longer from UV fading.

  18. Ron says:

    I have a 13 year old ironwood deck in Minnesota that has never had any maintenence, either when installed or subsequently. It is very grayed out and I would like to get some of the original luster and color back. I did steam clean it and it came out much better but still grayish, can you give me some advice, recommendations or guidance?

  19. Kristin says:

    Does anyone know if you can change the color of Ipe that's already been stained and sealed?

  20. Anne says:

    I have an IPE deck in Florida about 12 years old that had a previous stain applied that has darkened and splotchy. What steps do I need to take to get a beautiful rich color back? Please give me exact steps. I'm new at this.

    • Apply the Restore A Deck Stripper and pressure wash off. Use the RAD brightener after. Let dry for 2-3 days. Stain with one coat of the Armstrong Clark in Amber color. Clean and reapply every Spring.

  21. Kristine says:

    I have a 6 year old ironwood deck with cedar rails that appears to have never been stained (we moved into the house 3 years ago). I just washed it with deck wash and it is a light gray color. Is it okay to leave it unstained? What are the benefits to staining it? Would it only require staining on the top surface?

  22. Oscar says:

    I'm installing an ipe fence (to match an existing ipe deck) and the contractor told me to go choose a stain at the local Sherwin Williams, where I was offered the SuperDeck Exotic Hardwood series: 2501 Natural, 2502 Walnut, 2503 Cherry. This is my first project of the kind, so I'm a bit lost. The fence will be facing the sun most of the day and it's very sunny here year round. I'd appreciate help with a few newbie questions:

    – According to your reviews of SuperDeck, they don't seem to be the best stain around in general, but I haven't seen anything regarding the Exotic Hardwood series. Anybody has used this? Do you have an opinion on it? Is there another obviously better product I should be looking at instead?

    – Assuming the fence is built with new wood, does it need pre-treatment or can I apply the stain directly?

    Any other hints/tips much appreciated, thanks!

  23. Will says:

    Hi! I have a 10 year old IPE deck, about 1500sf + 400sf of vertical surfaces (planters) part of the deck is under a porche. The whole thing is facing South with plenty of sun, humidity and snow from Northern VA seasons. I believe the existing finish (what is left of it) is 3+ years old. It has been finished before with Woodrich wiping stain. Last time I tried to fix a couple of boards that had some hard stains and sanded a few boards. That was a mistake as the stain did not take as well as in the other boards.

    For my project:
    1. How does AC compare to the Woodrich stain regarding easy of application and durability
    2. How does the AC/Mahogany compares to the Woodrich/Amaretto. I like the darker version of the stains with rich color but letting the wood grain show
    3. What product would you recommend for the vertical surfaces to clean and to finish, I remember those being typically tougher to clean well.
    4. I read somewhere that under certain conditions it's Ok to apply the brightener without the neutralizer (is that true?). I used RAD in the past

    Any recommendations on the current state of the art to make my job easier will be greatly appreciated!!!. Many thanks!!!

    • 1. AC is easier to apply.
      2. Colors are similar between the two.
      3. Strip and brighten for the prep. Use Restore A Deck products.
      4. Brightener is a neutralizer so not sure what you mean.

  24. yoann says:

    First of all, thank youf or your website, it is really helpfull for new people in decking

    I live in San Diego CA, and I am having a 800sq.ft ipe deck installed
    I plan to have the contractor stain the ipe deck with the Messmers UV Plus Red Mahogany.

    However what i am not sure if it is needed to clean and brighten the deck before (using Restore A Deck). (it is a brand new deck)

    I called Messmers and it looks like the advice to clean and brighten but my contractor is telling me no. Any thoughts?

    Thank you very much

    • Yes you should always prep new wood. We would let the wood site for a month, clean and brighten, and stain. Another tip, best to follow the advice of the manufacturer of the stain over the contractor.

  25. Tom Meaker says:

    Do not use Thompson's water seal.iIt turns grey in 2 days.Penofin nice but too$$$.still looking

  26. Rozan says:

    I have a question regarding my ipe deck that we installed 6 months ago. We live in Malibu and we picked Ipe wood knowing it will last a long time in humid weather. Looks beautiful, but we have one problem that we noticed as soon as we lay down the patio furniture on the deck.
    Our furniture is metal-based and some of the legs are starting to stain the Ipe in dark blackish color. Also, we have a metal hammock that's doing the same thing, staining the Ipe. It seems metal contact on Ipe should be avoided, something we didn't know about.
    We are very upset and frustrated, what should we do about this issue and how can we remove the stains, any advice will be appreciated.
    Thank you!!!

    • Deck Stain Help says:

      This is rust from your hammock and furniture. Nothing to do with the IPE itself. Rust turns black when it gets into wood. A wood brightener can help to remove if not that deep into grain.

  27. hopethisisntdumb says:

    I have a new redwood fence but I love the ipe look. Is there a stain I could use that would give me more of an ipe look?

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*This is first and foremost a help site from our experience as wood restoration contractors. All stain and prepping manufacturer directions were followed with our reviews and ratings. We offer no guarantee of similar results. Take inconsideration that wood and deck stain results may differ due to prepping procedures, different wood types, exposure to UV radiation, natural weathering, etc.