Ipé (pronounced e-pay) is a wood becoming more commonly used as a decking material as it is durable and naturally resistant to rot, abrasion and weather, unlike traditional decking materials. Additionally, it is almost five times harder and twice as dense as most woods. There are also similar products such as Tiger Wood, Jatoba, and some species of Mahogany. We have had very good success using this product and think it is one of the best looking decking options available. It is not an easy product to work with but with the right tools and some patience the finished product is very rewarding.
Here are some care and use tips for Ipé:
Sealing: Ipe has its own natural defense against decay, water absorption, cupping, splintering and twisting, so sealing is not necessary. However, if you choose to seal your deck, be sure to coat the entire length of each board without stopping in the middle, which will be obvious when it dries.
Finishing: If left untreated, Ipe will stay smooth and splinter free and will weather to a silver-gray color in six to 12 months. However, to help prevent surface discoloration and checking, which is a naturally occurring lengthwise separation of the wood, you can add a finish with a penetrating, high-quality, water-seal product immediately after installation. No further maintenance will be needed except for regular cleaning.
As with almost all building materials, direct exposure to the sun will degrade the finish and turn Ipé a grey color more quickly so a high-quality penetrating oil finish with a high UV inhibitor rating should be used for installations if you want a "finished wood" appearance. To maintain the desired color, the finish should be applied periodically depending on sun exposure and surface wear. Don't excessively apply an overcoat as this may cause the surface to become sticky and can create a "puddle" look. You should always apply a thin coat using small paint roller or pad when the deck is clean and use a clean rag to remove any of the excess. If, however, you would like the deep brown color back again, you can use a pressure washer to get the original color back. Pressure washing can cause damage if not done carefully so test a small area before you do the whole deck.
Cleaning: Keep your deck free of leaves, pine needles and other debris as they can retain water and clog drainage, which doesn't allow the deck to dry properly. Cleaning an Ipe deck can bring out the original colors and protect it. You can begin by sanding scratches or blemishes using an 80-grit sand paper. Before applying the cleaner, the deck should be thoroughly wet with water using a garden hose to remove dirt and avoid streaking. After the cleaner is applied using a garden sprayer or hand sprayer, allow it to set for 30 minutes. Dirt should be removed with a stiff bristle that isn't made of metal. Before applying the deck finisher, the deck should be hosed down with water again and allowed to dry thoroughly.