Deck Oil Question in Connecticut

Written by on December 10, 2011 in Ask the Topcoat Team!, Decks and Porches, Uncategorized with 30 Comments

Mark from CT asks:

I am going to install an Ipe porch. I live in CT, two thirds of the
porch will be open and one third will be under roof but exposed to the
open air. I would like your recommendation on the type of oil to use.
After the initial application, what prep work should I do prior to
future applications to keep the deck looking rich?

Scott responds:

Mark, ipe deck oil questions are becoming more and more common every season. It is a tricky, and rather high maintenance wood species, but very rewarding and durable to live with. To your questions, we recommend using a premium marine grade penetrating oil, such as Penofin Marine Grade, on all sides of the ipe prior to installation. Then, wait 2-3 months, clean and reapply. It is critical to wipe off excess oil each time. Prefinishing all sides is the best way to ensure dimensional stability of the lumber over time. And here are some things not to do.



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  1. Susan Hanley says:

    Scott: Is it a bad idea to use a penetrating oil on my new Ipe deck if was never prefinished on all sides and is already installed? We live in a woodsy area with a northwest exposure.
    Thank you, Scott.

  2. Gail Foley says:

    Hi! I came across your website probably way too late. I am getting very anxious that I did the wrong thing to my soon to be decking on my new farmers porch. Although it isn’t ipe, it is garapa wood , a Brazilian hard wood. I am hoping you can give me your thoughts. I live in New Hampshire and not one person I encountered had worked with this type of wood. I wanted to ensure that I applied a finish that would highlight the beauty of the wood and keep it from graying. It was recommended to us by our painter and builder to use Sikkens. I am guessing that this was a bad idea from what I am reading here. It is taking an extremely long time for the second coat to thoroughly dry to a hard finish and I am fearful that it will be a big gummy mess once we start using the porch. The drying is coming along but it is so sllooowww!! It is not installed yet and I have an opportunity to fix this mistake if there is such a thing. Any advise you can offer me will be greatly appreciated. I want to showcase the flooring and want it not only to look great but last a life a good long time looking great too. Thanks in advance for you attention Scott!1

    • Scott Burt says:

      Hi Gail

      Garapa is beautiful wood. You are correct, we are not big fans of Sikkens. I think you basically have two choices…let it dry and sand it out before installing. Or, let it dry, install and maintain frequently, and hope for the best.

  3. Bruce says:

    I am wondering why you recommend Penofin Marine Grade instead of Penofin Hardwood formulation, which the Penofin folks recommend for IPE.

    • Scott Burt says:

      Hi Bruce, we no longer use any of the Penofin formulations. During the many years that we did, we found that the marine grade performed better than their other formulations on exotic decks.

      • Bruce says:

        Interesting! If you no longer recommend Penofin, there must be a good reason. What is it you recommend for IPE decks now?

        • Scott Burt says:

          It depends on the situation. There really isn’t one product that is ideal for all types of exposures. That is one of the reasons why we started a new site specific to exotic decks. If you haven’t seen it, you can check it out at

          • Bruce says:

            Regarding not recommending Penofin anymore…I read the NEW IPE Owner’s Manual pdf and it has this to say: “Even so, a good penetrating oil with a high trans-oxide pigment content is our preferred ipe finish; we’ve had the best luck with Penofin’s Marine Oil. Armstrong Clark oil-based stains are also very good.”

            Is there an updated version that actually recommends different finishes for different situations? I may have missed it. Thank you.

          • Scott Burt says:

            Bruce, no updated manual at this point. Site members receive product recommendations specific to their situations on case by case basis. There are also general articles on the site that discuss product sampling, etc.

  4. Michael Cioffi says:

    for IPE would you recommend Messmer’s UV Plus or Penofin Marine Grade penetrating oil? Thanks!

    • Scott Burt says:

      Michael, we don’t have enough experience with Messmers to really comment on it. We have used Penofin Marine a lot and it is great in some exposures and not so much in others. It can turn black easily in exposures that are damp and shady. We are currently experimenting with some suitable upgrades in product for ipe. Stay tuned.

  5. Ellen says:

    I have an ipe dock and have recently stripped and neutralized. And rinsed well. We let it dy throughly and applied Armstrong Clark oil stain for ipe with brush thinly. Looked incredible for one day. Then it rained after 24 hrs and it became blotchy almost like the stain was being pushed out in about half of area. What should I do?

  6. Christopher Jacobs says:

    Do you have any experience with Armstrong Clark Mahogany stain which they say is specifically designed for Ipe wood. They make some impressive claims, but I’ve heard it takes a while to dry? What is your take on this??

    • Scott Burt says:

      I have used the cedar tone. It is excellent. They make very good stain.

      • Christopher Jacobs says:

        It is now 3 weeks and the Armstrong-Clark Mahogany strain is still slippery. It was not put on too heavy a coat. I know that Ipe does not well absorb stain, but it’s been three weeks. It gets better every week, but three weeks seems like a long time for stian to dry. Do you have any suggestions how to make this deck safe to walk on without waiting another month?

        • Scott Burt says:

          Is it slippery or sticky? What was your prep process?

          • William McCahey says:

            Hi Scott , I applied ipe oil approx 4 weeks ago and did not wipe the excess off, it’s still very sticky, what can I do.

          • Scott Burt says:

            William, we recommend and have had success with scrubbing it with a water and TSP detergent using Scotch Brite. I have seen other painters claim that wiping down with mineral spirits or paint thinner is also effective, but I’d think that would be quite miserable.

  7. Nelson says:

    I am planning to work on a Ipe deck this coming spring, the customer said to me that previous owner told her not to power washed the deck, I can handle the cleaning process without using a power washer machine.
    The deck’s color is gray, when it’s wet it looks red except for the area with mold on it.
    My question is: After I clean the deck with a brush and deck cleaning solution, do I need to sand it? The surface looks silky though.
    I have a 2nd deck to do later in the year, the home owner said that it was a Brazilian wood, so i am assuming it’s Ipe as well. This last one is very bad, it is covered with green mold and dirt, this deck hasn’t been cleaned in more than 10 years I guess. I am planning to clean it with a power washer, I tried a hidden spot with my light power washer last year, but it I noticed that the surface was losing its finish.
    I could feel the surface was rough to the touch on my fingers.
    If I end up clean it with the power washer will have to sand it ? Do you recommend a good Ipe deck cleaner solution?
    BTW, I am not a master on deck restoration, but I thought that I can handle with a some professional advices.
    Thank you God Bless you.
    from Maryland

  8. John says:

    I have installed a 1400 sq.ft. deck made of Red Balu hardwood. I used the recommended oil (Messmers uv plus ext) and coated all surfaces. Everything looks great other than some clay stains made from foot prints from the tradesmen. Luckily most areas had tarps down to walk on, still a few ares managed to get stained.
    Can you recommend a way to remove the clay stains?
    When the clay is dry it’s like a fine light grey powder.
    When it gets wet to turns into a greasy grey material and sticks to everything.
    Thanks in advance

    • Scott Burt says:

      John, thanks for submitting a photo. Your deck looks great. For the footprints, I would recommend that you get some tsp (trisodiumphosphate). It usually comes as a powder form and you mix it with water. Gently wipe the foot print areas with either a rag or a soft scrub brush or slightly abrasive sponge. If it is a large scale issue, get a mop. Rinse with water when done. Wear rubber gloves. Good luck and let us know how it turns out. Good luck.

  9. hugh says:


    Really enjoying our ipe deck. thank you for all your advice during installation. What is the exact name of the cabot cleaner or brightner you recommend.

    Thank you. H

  10. Dianne says:

    In the past hour of researching what to do with our ipe deck, your suggestions have made t h e most sense.

    We are starting day 2 of removing whatever was put on our ipe deck by the previous owners. 80 grit sandpaper did not wwork. We are using 50 now.

    Should we re-sand with a higher grade before we finish?

    We do not want to maintain the same red stained appearance. It does not look natural. The red stain finish is very flakey on the railings but the posts have not been as badly affected by UV rays. Are we facing a two tone situation with the posts and rails?

    I feel so lost and have so many questions but no one to trust locally. They all want to sell their brands. Have a feeling that’s what previous owners faced too.

    Thank you

    • Scott Burt says:

      Hi Dianne, yes it would be good to bring it back up to 60 or 80 grit before applying fresh oil. I would recommend Penofin Marine Grade if you can get it. Here is another of our popular ipe articles: … thanks for your kind words and please let us know how things work out for you.

      • Lucinda Hahn says:

        Scott: When you say “oil”, is that the same as stain? If not, can you explain what different uses are for each?

        Many thanks,


        • Scott Burt says:

          Lucinda, usually the choice is made based on the type of wood. If it is an exotic or especially pretty species – ipe, mahogany, cedar, redwood – we prefer a quality oil with transoxide pigments. This technically would be considered a transparent stain because there is some pigment, but it is subtle, high quality and penetrates the wood to bring out its natural character. Traditional oil stain uses lower quality pigments that are designed to stay on the surface of the wood and change the color of it. We use this on pressure treated wood for instance, or wood that is so compromised by age and weather that protecting it with an artificial color is the most efficient move. This is a very general breakdown for you, but I hope it helps.

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