Finishing Options for Ipe Decking and Other Exterior Hardwoods

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What is the best hardwood finish for my decking and siding project?

People often want to know how long a finish will last on their hardwood deck or siding project. Or what is the best oil for Ipe. Realistically, it is impossible to accurately predict how long or short that time frame may be.

We can offer you our best educated guess, based on years of testing and experience - but the fact remains that it all depends on a wide range of unique factors that vary significantly from sealer to sealer, site to site and board to board. Learn more, as we explore the criteria in this article.


Garapa deck at artist studio  on the Maine coast-1

It is no secret that Ipe hardwood decking or siding is a difficult wood species to stain or finish. The same natural characteristics that make Ipe hardwood so resistant and impervious to insects and weather make it darn near impossible to finish.



The wood cells of Ipe and several other high density tropical hardwoods are so tight that commonly used decking sealers and sealers simply don't work well on them. Because of this your finish options are somewhat limited. 

Ipe deck weathered to silvery gray patina-3


Do you want your hardwood decking or siding to weather naturally?

If you plan to let your hardwood deck or siding weather naturally to a silver gray patina, an initial coat of a UV inhibiting sealer is still an excellent idea.

While applying a UV inhibitor to decking may slow down the natural weathering process, it helps your wood to acclimate to its new home and will minimize potential surface checking. Penofin hardwood formula oil finish is one product we have found that will work pretty effectively for initial UV protection while the exterior wood properly acclimates. However, if you wish to maintain the 'like new' wood look, re-coating your Ipe hardwood is needed.


Do you want to speed up the look of the natural graying process?

A sealer such as Seal-Once® with Coastal Gray semi-transparent tint is a fantastic way to achieve a relatively uniform gray appearance while offering your decking or siding a beneficial UV coating to protect it during the acclimation process.



While the gray tones will vary significantly depending on the graining and properties of the hardwood decking or siding boards, the look is still more uniform than the natural aging process. This is because sunlight, shade and exposure all vary from area to area on a deck or siding. 

Even on the same project, certain areas will naturally gray faster than others. A gray tinted sealer will help the siding or decking to "blend" better and faster.  

We have found that as the UV rays slowly burn off the tinted colors, the natural graying process of the underlying siding or decking takes place at the same time. This transition may happen over a number of years, or even longer, depending on site conditions, UV exposure, and the elements. 


Download the guide to hoe hardwoods weather

Do you prefer the "like new" appearance for your hardwood decking or wood siding?


If your goal is to maintain the "like new" wood appearance of your hardwood decking or sidingthere are a few things you should know about the unique and long lasting properties of high-density hardwoods:

5 Tips to Help Select the Best Finishing Option

for your Hardwood Decking or Siding Project

  • Penofin Hardwood formula oil finish looks great when it is first applied to hardwood decking or hardwood siding. The natural oil finish darkens and enriches the appearance of the wood and gives it a shiny look.

  • As Penofin (or other oil finishes) dry out, the appearance tends to dull out over time.

  • The wood decking or siding itself also tends to darken with exposure to UV rays and the elements.

  • When it is time to refinish your decking or siding you have several options: simply clean the deck and apply a new coat of ipe sealer, remove the coat and start fresh again, or simply clean the decking and let it weather naturally.

  • You are always free to change your mind! If you want a fresh start, simply thoroughly clean your decking and siding and finish (like new).



Please visit our website for more information about finishing options for hardwood decking and siding, wood decking species, wood siding species and more:

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