Does Ipe Wood Decking Need to Be Sealed?

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Ipe hardwood decking is the hardwood all others are compared to. The unparalleled strength and beauty make Ipe a top choice for builders and designers. Proper sealing will extend the longevity – and benefits – of your Ipe hardwood project. Here's the top 5 questions we hear about sealing Ipe, and the answers.

  • Do I have to seal Ipe wood?”
  • “Do I need to keep sealing Ipe hardwood? “
  • "What if I want to keep my Ipe looking new?”
  • "How will Ipe hardwood look if I let it go gray?"
  • “Can I change my mind on the finish later?”


Ipe decking can be sealed to protect the "brand new" look from weather and UV exposure.


Do I have to seal Ipe wood?

No, but you really should. During the initial exposure of your Ipe decking or hardwood siding on site, weather, especially UV rays, take a toll on outdoor woods. Putting a coat of UV inhibitive sealer on exterior hardwoods is a great idea. Proper UV protection helps minimize surface checking on your deck or siding boards. Especially when your brand new decking or siding boards get exposed to mother nature. Protect them from sun damage, like suntan lotion on your skin.

Applying a sealer is easier than you might expect. You can have your Ipe decking pre-finished with Penofin Hardwood Formula before you bring it on site, or pre-finish it yourself with Penofin or another sealer with UV inhibitor. This helps achieve proper acclimation on-site.

RELATED: Learn The Best Way To Acclimate Hardwood Materials With Sealant

Each time you create a cut the ends should be sealed with Penofin. The risk of leaving a cut end unsealed is ruined lumber. In as little as a day, unsealed ends can create serious checking in your boards, wasting your time, materials, and money


An Ipe deck weathered to a silvery gray patina in a green grass yard on the shorline, with white oron furniture and a woma sitting with her back to the camera on the deck next to a basket of flowers.

Choose not to seal the Ipe and it will naturally age to a coveted silvery patina over time.

Do I need to keep sealing the Ipe hardwood?

On such a high-density hardwood as Ipe, oil-based sealers like Penofin will penetrate, but not far. The initial coat of oil finish will fade out or flash off over a short period time. However, after the initial coat wears off and the wood has 'seasoned' some, a second coat lasts much longer for continued UV protection. Additional sealing is optional, based on your finish preference.

RELATED: Learn More About Penofin Hardwood Sealers

What if I want to keep my Ipe looking new?

One of the many benefits of Ipe is that it is as beautiful as it is strong. For a lasting “like new” appearance , use a new coat of Penofin Hardwood Formula, or your chosen finish. Apply over time as the coating show signs of age, fades, or wears off. Whatever coating you select, always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for best results.

RELATED: Learn The Best Way To Acclimate Hardwood Materials With Sealant


Looking for deck design inspiration? Download our eBook with over 150+ deck design ideas now.



How will Ipe hardwood look if I let it ‘go gray’?

Pretty darn great. The easiest finish option: simply stop sealing and let your deck age to a natural silver-gray patina, like all unfinished hardwoods do. Simply sit back and allow the UV inhibiting coating to wear off over time. Although the lowest maintenance option, it is also a beautiful and popular look. 


Machiche hardwood deckA hardwood rooftop deck in California when first installed (including a coffee table)...

vaughn machiche rooftop deck weatherd 2

...and a few years later after UV and weather exposure.


 See the results of our real time 15 year weathering test:

Ipe vs. Other popular wood decking options when left to age naturally, unprotected.

Performed at our New England HQ, exposed to full UV and subjected to all kinds of New England weather. 


Can I change my mind on the finish later?

Here’s great news if you can't decide: There is a third sealing option when finishing your deck. You can start with a "like-new" finish for a time and then let it ‘go gray’ later just by stopping the sealing. Maintenance just got easier.


Start by letting it go gray but change back to "like-new" later. It needs a little one-time work to strip the gray, but the reward is the gorgeous, renewed graining and color.


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