Ipe decking is becoming a very popular choice in North America. The desire for exotic hardwood decking reaches beyond the need for something unique, as more people are being educated on the longevity of exotic wood’s lifespan. Ipe and other South American hardwoods often outlast standard decking options, and they are in fact unique as well.
With the construction of an Ipe deck, many homeowners make the mistake of assuming this wood has some superpower that allows it to resist the weather. The truth is, it’s wood, and just like any North American species of hardwood, it needs protection from the elements. There are several things you can do that will help increase the lifespan of your deck, and while not all of them may be your choice of action, each offers its own advantages and disadvantages.
Ipe is a very dense hardwood, and because it is so dense liquids have a hard time penetrating the surface. For this reason, a water sealant treatment is not necessary. If you wish to treat your new deck, a simple application of hardwood conditioning oil is sufficient. By performing preventive maintenance on your deck, you help keep the weather from aging the wood as quickly as it would, if the deck were left untreated. Ipe ages from a rich brown hue, similar to Walnut, to a silver and gray color over time. While some homeowners find the silver color to be attractive, others prefer the original brown color of the wood when it was new. Adding a simple water sealer may not prevent Ipe decking from taking on this transformation.
The second method for protecting your Ipe decking from the elements can help you retain the original color of the wood, or even alter it. Choosing a stain with a conditioning oil as one of its ingredients will not only allow you to alter the color of the Ipe decking, but will also help prevent the weather from aging it as well. With the addition of stain, you can change the color of the wood, without losing the natural wood grain, as you would if you opted to paint the deck. Stain also does not chip and break under extreme weather conditions. With the heat faced in southern parts of the United States, coupled with heavy rain or cold weather, paint can give way rather quickly, leaving you with an unsightly mess on your hands. Stain soaks into the wood, and with the extra protection of the conditioning oil, you can rest assured that your deck will last for many years to come.
The third method for protecting your deck from the weather is to add a roof system above it. While many people enjoy the open airy feeling of being on the deck, the weather can also be a killjoy when it comes to rained out barbecues and parties that ended suddenly due to weather. Adding a roof not only allows you to use your deck on rainy days, but also helps keep the rain from pounding into your deck surface. Ipe decking is much stronger that Pine or other softwoods, but over time water can still lead to rotten wood. If you prefer to have the option to keep the open feeling of an uncovered deck, then adding a retractable awning is another option you may consider. These awnings allow you to cover the deck on extremely hot days or during rainy weather so you may continue to use it, but when you wish to have the sunlight streaming down, simply roll the awning up and enjoy your deck.
No matter which method you may choose, protecting your deck is an important part of preventive maintenance. Regular inspections and preventive maintenance is the best way to ensure that your family will be able to enjoy your deck for years to come!