This post was updated on January 30, 2023
2023 IPE & Exotic Hardwood Stain Reviews
Welcome to Deckstainhelp.com, your source for industry insights and tips for the perfect deck stain for Exterior Hardwoods such as IPE, Mahogany, and other Brazillian Decking. IPE & Exotic Hardwood Stains continues to follow the same wear patterns as years before. Leave us a comment if you’ve used IPE& Exotic Hardwood Stains and the type of hardwood and the brand of stain used.
What is Exotic Hardwood Decking?
IPE, tigerwood, cumaru, and mahogany are the most common types of wood that professionals use for exterior wood decking. The huge popularity of these types of woods is their beautiful nature and durability. Although fairly expensive compared to cedar or pressure-treated pine, IPE, and other Brazilian hardwood decks are gorgeous when properly maintained and will not rot or decay like softwoods. Exotic hardwoods can last up to a century making them one of the greenest choices available and having the same fire rating as steel and concrete.
Staining Exotic Hardwood Decking
IPE, and other Brazilian hardwoods are stunning when stained with an IPE Exotic Hardwood Stain. The wood grain is naturally highlighted the wood’s beauty is enhanced and the finished result is like no other decking wood. Water repellency and UV protection are a must to keep the exotic hardwood from graying and fading as well as warping or cracking on your exterior decking.
Exotic hardwoods like IPE are extremely dense and hard to penetrate. Common deck stains should not be used on these types of dense hardwoods as they may not be able to soak into the wood grain. Specially formulated exotic hardwood stains are designed to dive into the dense pores of these woods to give maximum protection against UV rays and water damage. Due to the hard nature of these woods, stains will typically not last more than 1 year. In some cases, exotic hardwood surfaces can benefit from being cleaned and recoated every 6 months. This is just the nature of exotic hardwoods.
Preserving these expensive woods is a must to retain their beauty and using a semi-transparent finish will enhance the wood grain as if it is wet. This makes the wood grain pop and makes for an eye-catching wood surface. IPE Exotic Hardwood Stains can be used on decks, fences, wood railings, and any hardwood furniture that is previously untreated.
IPE Exotic Hardwood Stains like the Restore-A-Deck, Defy Hardwood Stain, and the Armstrong Clark Hardwood Colors are low VOC compliant wood stains that can be shipped to all 50 states.
IPE and Hardwood Photo Gallery
Top-Rated Hardwood Deck Stains
1. Restore-A-Deck Hardwood Stain Rating
Restore-A-Deck Wood Stain can be applied to dry or damp wood. Applying to damp wood allows you the ability to prep and stain on the same day, saving you a tremendous amount of time. Restore-A-Deck Wood Stain is an advanced, water-based, semi-transparent stain formulation designed to penetrate deep into wood pores for maximum protection and longevity. Restore-A-Deck Wood Stain protects the wood from harmful UV rays and damage caused by water penetration.
Stain Type: Penetrating Semi-Transparent Water-Based. Full Curing Damp Application Stain.
Consumer Star Ratings:
DeckStainHelp.com Review (On a scale of 1-10): 8.625
See Review Article Here: Restore-A-Deck Wood Stain Review
2. Armstrong Clark Hardwood Stain Rating
A high solids pigmented finish made from heavy and light-bodied oils specially formulated for application on unpainted hardwoods. Heavy-bodied oils provide water repellency. Extra pigments provide enhanced color retention on hardwoods. Light-bodied oils combined with solvent penetrate into the wood. Armstrong’s Semi-Transparent Hardwood Finishes repels water, retains color longer, and reduces the frequency of re-coats on maintenance-intensive hardwoods.
Stain Type: Penetrating Semi-Transparent, Oil-Based. Paraffin and Curing Oil Blend. Full Curing Stain. 3 Exotic Hardwood colors: Amber, Mahogany, and Black Walnut
Consumer Star Ratings:
DeckStainHelp.com Review (On a scale of 1-10): 8.60
See Review Article Here: Armstrong Clark Hardwood Stain Review
3. Defy Hardwood Stain Rating
DEFY Deck Stain for Hardwoods is formulated with smaller resins that penetrate hardwoods, or oily softwoods better. If you’re looking for the best stain for cedar decks in a water-based product, then look no further. DEFY Deck Stain for Hardwoods is a synthetic, semi-transparent deck sealer specifically formulated for use on Teak, IPE, Mahogany, Tigerwood, and other exotic hardwoods.
Stain Type: Penetrating Semi-Transparent Water-Based. 3 hardwood colors: Natural Pine, Light Walnut, and Cedartone
Consumer Star Ratings:
DeckStainHelp.com Review (On a scale of 1-10): 8.60
See Review Article Here: Defy Hardwood Stain Review
Top IPE and Exotic Hardwood Stain Ratings
If you have any questions about ipe hardwood deck stains, please ask below.
The Best IPE Hardwood Deck Stain Video – DeckStainHelp.com
Deck Stain Help & Questions
Stain Reviews & Comparisons
As an article and comment contributor to the site, Scott has been around the pressure washing industry since attending college. In 1993 he started his first company called Oakland Pressure Wash specializing in exterior pressure washing and deck staining. That company evolved into OPW L.L.C. shortly thereafter concentrating more on exterior wood and deck restoration. Scott and his Deck Cleaning Michigan company have restored over 10,000 decks in the Metro Detroit area since the early years. He has become an authority in the deck restoration industry and has contributed to numerous wood restoration forums and informative sites.
All the products he suggests through this site are sold through online sites and in retail stores, allowing the consumer to choose their own means of purchase. Scott’s eCommerce sites do sell many top brands he endorses and if you appreciate any of the help he has offered then feel free to purchase from one of them.
Hi Scott – mahogany deck and have used the attached stain for 10 years – 2 years they stopped making it – any other brand you could recommend and do I have to strip it (hope not) –
Yes, you have to strip and brighten. It will be easy. Use the Restore A Deck Stripper and Brightener kits. As for the new stain, see here for tips: https://www.deckstainhelp.com/ipe-exotic-hardwood-stain-review/
Hi, I have a year one deck that I built using Tigerwood. The supplier that I purchased the wood from said I should use Deckwise Ipe oil in natural on it. I cleaned the deck and applied the oil and instead of the stunningly rich color of the tigerwood it made my deck look brown. I have ready about Penofin Architectural Grade Transparent Hardwood Coating but I have not seen too many reviews on it. I just would like to get my deck back to the way it looked when I built it. Any advice would be appreciated.
Strip and brighen for prep to remove the IPE Oil. You cannot maintain the color that you had after it was built as you need a tinted stain for UV protection and that means you will enhance the grain of the wood. IPE Oil is very brown. Penofin will turn black on you after 6-9 months so don’t use that. Try Restore A Deck stain in Natural Tint or Armstrong Clark Stain in Amber.
Thank you for the response.
Hi There –
I recently purchased a home and looking to make improvements to my damaged hardwood outdoor deck. I am looking to bring my hardwood deck back to its original color which is exactly what is shown in the attached image.
What stain should I use to accomplish this?
Thank you in advance for any guidance you can provide!
Use Restore A Deck Stains in Light Walnut color. Make sure to prep first.
I am about to install Ipe Rainscreen siding and Jatoba decking and have read through everything here. Am I not supposed to apply anything to the IPE or Jatoba until it sits after install? I was going to coat three sides of the decking as I separate the boards and place on 1x material to acclimate and then apply the deck surface coat once it is installed. I was going to coat all of the IPE siding before installing it as well. I’d like the best color retention I can get as well as ease of recoat in the future. I also like the dark and uniform colored IPE siding I see on all these expensive homes when you Google it. What is the process I should use to coat everything? Can I coat before install? Do I need to run a cleaner or brightener before the initial staining. Really trying to get a rich deep color.
Weather after install for 3 months and then prep with a deck cleaner and wood brightener. Stain only the exposed wood with one coat of the stain. No need to coat all sides. Try Restore A Deck Stain in Light Walnut or Dark Walnut.
Building a new house in western Massachusetts in the Berkshire mountains. The builder has installed Angelic Wood decking. It is a very hard wood and gets constant direct sun. The structural posts are Doug Fir. The builder initially applied a coat of Australian oil which was recommended. It has already faded out with the sun and the wood looks very dry. What stain would you recommend for this deck?
Try Restore A Deck Stains or Defy Hardwood. Make sure to prep well to remove the ATO stain.
Would you use Restore A Deck Cleaner or Stripper or Both to remove/prep the deck and the ATO?
RAD Stripper and the Brightener.
We live in Cleveland, Ohio and just had a set of uncovered, Ipe steps built on our back patio (in September). I understand we have to weather the wood before staining, but because of the weather here and time of year that we are starting the weathering process, we won’t be able to clean, brighten and stain realistically until May at the earliest which will be 8-9 months. I’m worried the wood will be very gray by then.
We love the current dark look of the new wood. Will a cleaner/brightener/stain bring it back close to the original color even if we have to wait 9 months before doing it? Also, can you recommend a color that will bring it back close to the original “unweathered” color at that point? We were planing to use AC, unless you recommend something else for our conditions. Thanks!
You are fine to wait and the prep will remove the gray. You cannot achieve the current “unweathered” color with a stain and have it stay that way. The stain must be tinted for UV protection so the color will be enhanced. AC Amber is close to a clean wet look color.
Now husband is considering RAD instead of AC because RAD could also be used on a teak table we have. If you could suggest a RAD color for the ipe that would resemble the original unweathered color as well it would be appreciated.
It is not possible to resemble the unweathered color with a deck stain and have UV protection. They will all enhance the grain.
We recently installed an IPE deck. I want to oil it so that it keeps its natural color. I was going to buy IPE oil, but i see you don’t have tha5 listed as one of the top items. Can you tell me why?
You cannot stain the new IPE yet. Need to weather 3-4 months and then prep. We are not fans of IPE Oil. Too dark and does not last as long as the other brands.
We have a 5 year old ipe deck. We have always used ipe oil as recommended by the supplier of the ipe. We get a lot of sun and the ipe oil does not last long. I worry about using another product that may peel like some stains do. Are any of these products similar to the ipe oil as far as application and initial results? Also, every spring we must pressure wash and scrub. Do any of these products make that process any easier annually? Thank you!
No easier but some will last a little longer. Try the Restore A Deck Stain in Light Walnut.
Hi – I have an IPE deck that was installed and stained in March 2020. I would like to re-stain it but with a different, darker color (thinking of AC black walnut or rustic brown). What’s the process for this? Also, should I stick to the hardwood stains as opposed to semi-transparent?
You have to use a hardwood color so the Rustic Brown would not work. Use the Black Walnut.
Thanks! and to confirm, does the original stain need to be removed or can it be applied over it?
You will need to remove it. Strip and brighten for prep. Use Restore A Deck Kits.
Where do I buy a product to do a brand new Mahogany deck? I need it for tomorrow!
Check with the listed brand names websites above. You will not find anything decent at Home Depot or Lowes.
I have wood loungers that are five years old made of Tazalam wood (a Mexican wood similar to mahogany or Ipe I think). They have a water based stain and sealer on them from two years ago, and I’m considering the RAD strip, clean, and stain process. Which color do you recommend to maintain the reddish tones in the wood? The light walnut looks a bit golden. OR would you suggest the Armstrong Clark in Mahogany? Does the Armstrong Clark semi transparent stain allow for a damp application like the RAD process so that I could complete the project in one day? Thank you!
Use light walnut color. It is a reddish brown color, not golden. Better to use the RAD stain over the AC on furniture as AC says not to use on furniture. For prep help, send some pictures.
So so helpful. Thanks very much, and stay well 😉
I’ve used Ready Seal on our Ipe deck three times now: Nov 2019, when new; Apr 2020; Nov 2020. It looked great when stained, but after 6 months it gets very faded. I hand applied the oil base product with a sheep wool type applicator, applying a thin even coat. I had no issues with it not drying. I like that all I need to do is clean. before resealing, or eventually doing a brightener.
I’d like to find something that will hold up longer. We are elevation of 3100′. Very hot 90+ degree summers and cold and some snow in winter. Do you have experience with any of these three products on this page lasting longer, and still being relatively easy to re-apply?
I’m told that the lighter colored stains don’t have much UV protection ability.
All above will last longer than Ready Seal and can be cleaned and reapplied as needed. Daker colors will take longer to fade. Try Restore A Deck in Light Walnut or Armstrong Clark in mahogany.
I’m confused…. I looked at the User instructions for Armstrong Clark:
“USE:For older unpainted wood surfaces such as: decks, siding, shakes and shingles, fences, and log homes where color retention, water repellency and wood conditioning are the desired goal. NOT for new wood less than 1 year old. NOT for sitting surfaces nor furniture. NOT for exotic hardwoods.
They have 3 colors specifially made for hardwoods and IPE. Amber, Mahogany, and Black Walnut.
I have ( 2) 3 year old Mahogany decks. It was stained 3 years ago with Behr deck stain(garbage). I redid the deck with the restore-a-deck system, cleaner, brightener and stain. Once it was done with in a few days we noticed all the grain on the wood standing up. I sent restore-a-deck the question and they said its because the wood oxidized.
At the same time I had a brand new piece of mahogany I made a hand rail out of. Didn’t do any prep and used the same stain. It did the same thing to the grain. So I know it was not the cleaning process but the stain.
So 2 questions, how do I get the surface smooth again and what other product should I use on my other deck. I just cleaned the deck with the restore-a-deck cleaner and brightener but scared to use their stain.
A deck stain cannot raise the grain so that is not the cause. There is nothing in there that would do this. No penetrating semi-transparent stain will be any different.
so whats the problem and answer. If it is oxidation what causes it and how to remedy
It is normal with a penetrating stain for the wood to be slightly “rough” so it does not actually need a fix. Exterior deck wood is not supposed to be smooth or coated with a filming coating that smooths it out like a hardwood floor. It is supposed to have surface “texture” to it and actually helps the stain to absorb better and therefore have a longer life.
Well the grain is up high enough to cause splinters. Is there something better to use, like a penetrating oil
This is a penetrating stain and being oil or water-based does not make a difference. You could always lightly sand off the splinters with 60-80 grit paper and a pole sander and then apply the stain.
Armstrong Clark is the only one of your 3 top-rated stains for mahogany that is oil-based; other two are water-based. And Armstrong Clark is only sold online. Is there another comparable OIL-BASED IPE stain that’s sold retail, i.e. so I can go pick it up and not pay $$$ for shipping? Sure hope so. I’m finding your product reviews immensely helpful. Thank!
Best to check with the manufacturers for help locating. Not any other decent ones that we know of.
Have a client with a ironwood deck that has been using Sherwin Williams superdeck exotic stain natural color, they say it’s only lasting one year in the Elements and then gets blotchy some areas lifting and and dull looking
Is this common for this ironwood/ superdeck convo to need yearly applications or is there a better recommended product for this application?
No stain will last longer than a year for IPE. The 3 above will last longer than the Super Deck.
ok thanks for reply and confirmation! do you think i would run into any issues changing to one of the above as deck was previously done in super deck and still has finish on it?
You will need to strip and brighten the wood for prep to remove the Super Deck first.
Thanks for this site! We have a 8 month old mahogany deck and would like to have it cleaned and then put a clear finish on to preserve and enhance the natural mahogany. I would prefer oil-based, as i am old school and believe that would have a chance to soak in rather than be a skin likely to peel off. But it is hard to find a true “Clear” finish, the PPG Proluxe we bought at Ben Moore sold as “Natural” turned out to be hideous orange color we are now stuck with on our cedar rails, I don’t want to do that to my mahogany deck. Is there a good, CLEAR oil that will not turn black and will treat my deck? ( We are aware that a clear oil will darken, that’s fine,but without pigments)
Clear = zero UV protection from graying. It must be tinted for UV protection. Most will use a lighter tone for mahogany wood. Like Amber from Armstrong Clark.
I live in NY (not upstate) I have a large tigerwood deck (1600) sq ft. I am looking for a product that will enhance not change the color too much. I made the mistake in incorrectly using deckwise ipe oil the first time (deck is one yr old). I put it on too thick and didn’t wipe it off. I have let it weather and I am now using TSP to clean and get all the residual off. I used a little wolman deck and fence brightener to see if that would work to get it back to its original appearance but when wet it still seems darker than it was. The TSP seems to be cleaning it but would the IPE oil still be darkening it? I thought about having a floor guy come and screening the whole deck to start over again but I am not sure if that is a good idea. It is a LOT of deck for me to handle alone. I was thinking of using Messmers based on what I have read but still not sure.
So again looking for the following for Northeast conditions
Lighter/natural looking stain
Should I have it sanded?
Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!
You should strip and brighten for prep. Try the Messmers in Natural or Defy Hardwood stain in Natural.
Thanks for the quick response! Should I continue to use the TSP or get something else to strip and brighten? If so what would you recommend? Any preference/differences between Defy and Messemers? Very much appreciated!
TSP does not strip coatings. See this: https://www.deckstainhelp.com/best-deck-stain-strippers/
either stains would work well.
We have Ipe decking that we would like to clean and stain and then maintain properly. We have not done anything with the deck since moving into our home in 2013. The areas that have been in the sun have greyed while there are some areas that are still brown. How do you recommend that we clean, stain and care for our deck? We would like for it to be returned to the darker brown color if possible. Product recommendations are most appreciated.
Prep with a deck cleaner and wood brightened. Stain with Armstrong Clark in Black Walnut for a rich deep brown color.
Fantastic!! Thank you. A deck cleaner and brightener such as “Restore-A-Deck?”
Thank you. Last question: Is there a maintenance product we should apply annually?
With IPE you will have to do the same steps every year.
I have a 18 year old IPE deck. I live in Fla and so it is exposed to sun year round and rainy. I have always used a clear or natural after pressure washing it once a year. Some areas are more gray or brown , by no means the original color. I was thinking of using a solid this year and make it cherry which is closest to the original color. I was recommended to use Superdeck Exotic Hardwood by Duckback ?? Does anyone have any recommendations or thoughts on this product, process, or even a better idea
Super Deck has issues with turning black and it does not last. The above 2 stains in the article are much better.
I have used Messmers UV Natural for my Ipe deck in the past. It seems to work fine. I just pressure washed everything again after a few years and the wood/grain looks great. Is there a more transparent oil that would keep the wood grain more visible? Thank you….
Not any more transparent than the Messmers.
OK. Thank you. But according to your reviews you prefer RAD, AC or Defy? Which of these would result in the most natural finish?
They are all tinted. The more tint you have, the better the UV protection. Going light or clear will not give you much or any UV protection so there is not really a good way to answer your question.
I’ve just installed just milled African Mahogany vertical siding to my SoCal home very close to the beach. The single story wall faces south. I am mostly concerned about longevity, though I want to enhance (and not hide) the look of this beautiful wood. Ease of application is not weighted as much for me as I’d rather pay up front to have the better chance of preservation. I have read the articles and wondering, given these conditions, what finish product you’d choose between Restore-A-Deck, Armstrong Clark and Defy? Messmers also had a good review on your site.
Also – in reading manufacturer pages they generally advise waiting 3-6 months so hardwood can age, prior to application. Agree?
Yes, age and prep. We would use the RAD in Natural or Armstrong Clark in Amber.
I moved into a house that has dark stained ipe wood railings. They need to be cleaned and restained . I would like to keep them the same color. Any idea how i can figure this out. Can i use a product like Armstrong Clark black walnut over the existing similar color stain once I’ve properly prepped the wood?
No. You have to remove the current stain. Best to post a picture for help with this.
Thanks for the quick reply. There is a dark stain on the ipe wood railings now, not sure what it is oil or water, what brand stripper, brightener, stain would work best? I’m thinking about keeping them dark. Thanks
That is an easy strip. Use the Restore A Deck Stripper/Brightener Kit.
Question, i just read the back of RAD stripper label it says “will not remove solid color opaque stain” from the pics i sent isn’t this what i have? Thanks
No, you have a semi-transparent stain, not a solid stain.
If Ipe deck is covered so that it gets little sun, will this be an issue? Just sanded and stained using Armstrong hardwood stain and it the Ipe oils keep coming up. The owner hosed it and it caused spotting. What do you recommend?
It should be fine as it does not need the sun to cure. Just may take longer.
We are replacing our deck this summer and have made the amazing discover of IOE woods. Reading your article
In staining the IPE wood deck, did I understand you correctly that this deck will need to be restrained every year? This can become quite expensive a deck guy for an annual maintenance or sanding and staining right?
Could you please give me a short list of the best and acceptable stains for this particular wood. Maybe I can find the stain locally.
Is there a finish that needs to be applied also?
Yes every year. Clean and brighten for prep if using a penetrating stain. No need to sand. The best IPE stains are:
Armstrong Clark in a Hardwood Color
Defy Hardwood Stain
Restore A Deck Wood Stains
I have a 10 year old massarunaba(sp?) deck in upstate NY. I have used Messmers UV Plus Natural for Hardwoods every 2-3 years. Part of the deck is exposed to sun and turns grey quickly, sheltered portion less so. I want to return the deck to its original color. I’m considering RAD Stripper/Brightener, then Armstrong Clark semi transparent Mahogany stain. Comments or suggestions please!
Your plan is correct!
Thank you for the prompt response.
Have an ipe deck that the previous homeowner used a solid brown stain on. Pealing throughout and looks terrible. Want to get solid stain removed but none of contractors that gave prices seem to agree on method. Any suggestions? One suggested using deck stain stripper, sanding and power washing. Will that damage wood? Thinking of using penofin after.
Deck stain strippers will not remove solid stains fully. Sanding is best. Penofin turns black on many people. You can see their reviews on this site.
Shpupd install the contractor to sand a certain. Way or use a type of sander? Also, what grit sandpaper should he use?
Use 60-80 grit paper. Sand with the grain of the wood. Drum sander works well.
I have a hardwood deck that has a stain in decent shape. A bit of peeling. My plan is to clean the deck than stain. Just not sure because I do not know brand of stain on deck if it should be stripped. I can down load pics if that would help
Yes, send some pics.
Here are pics Clearly not a photographer. Thankful for any thoughts. Deck on Long Island
Dave M, that most likely cannot be stripped as it looks like a solid stain and is definitely peeling like an acrylic. You will most likely need to sand this off if you want to use a semi-transparent stain.
Trying on pics. Lol
Hi there-not sure if my post was submitted. Built an ipe deck in july 2015, and it was stained a few days later (temp 85 deg when stained)-stunning deck. By Sept the stain was fading and in April 2016 stain was gone. We restain it that month, temp about 50 degrees. Again, by Sept stain was fading. We get about 8 hrs of sun on the deck from Jun-end Aug, snow from end Nov-Apr. Now that the snow is melting, we see the stain has vanished. Not sure of the product the guys used. But we live in Montreal-would the weather-heat and snow (-20deg in winter)- have anything to do with it? Our summers ave around 80-85deg, of course it’s much hotter on the deck. I’ve heard that sometimes you have to let the deck dry for over a week after power washing, and to sand and oil a few times before when staining it. Do we have to do this process twice a year for the rest of our deck life? I had no idea that this would be so difficult to maintain. When i had the deck built, i was looking forward to LESS maintenanc, guess that’s NOT gonna happen. The IPE wood and stain is absolutely gorgeous!!! But when the stain fades-well-not so pretty on the eyss.
I will submit some pics.
Thanks for your help and your wonderful site.
IPE wood requires an annual application or possibly sooner. You will need to clean and reapply every Spring. Look at the Armstrong Clark in Mahogany or Defy Hardwood in Light Walnut. Both will be an easy reapplication as needed.
That is a beautiful deck in the picture. What stain was used? I have a 3 year old IPE deck. What should I use?
Sorry but not sure on what was used in the picture. The Armstrong Clark in Mahogany or the Defy Hardwood in Light Walnut should be similar and is what we would use.