IPE is a favorite choice for residential and commercial decks due to its hardness, strength, and natural beauty. However, when left unfinished and exposed to the elements, IPE will age with time, cracking, cupping, and twisting. Therefore, proper finishing is essential to protect it from damage and enhance its durability as well as beauty throughout the life of the deck.
Finishing is essential in IPE decking longevity because of several key reasons:
Protection from moisture: Unfinished IPE easily absorbs and eliminates moisture, causing it to expand and contract as water content fluctuates, resulting in cracked boards, popped fasteners, and warped decks. The moisture-sealing process maintains stability, especially when the decks are exposed to regular rainfall, snow melt-off sprinklers, or humidity.
Defense against mold, mildew, and fungi: When untreated, this wood can be discolored or rotted by mildew or any other fungus. Such fungi thrive on untreated tropical hardwoods in warm, humid areas. Finishing creates a breathing barrier, thereby minimizing fungal growth, which is necessary for decks under shades or partially enclosed.
Prevention of tannin bleeding: A few boards of IPE are prone to bleeding where the reddish-brown tannin extract oozes from the timber, staining surrounding surfaces poorly. Finishing before installing locking tannins inside them helps stop bleeding and removes stains later on.
Long-term beauty preservation: Without finishing it, IPE’s rich chocolate becomes silvery over time. Finishing is the only way to retain the warm, natural wood coloration some people desire. Moreover, finishing enhances the grain of IPE and its little mineral streaks through light reflection.
Enhanced dimensional stability: More than wood that has been correctly finished, bare IPE swells, shrinks, twists, and cups more. The stabilized lumber lies flatter and tighter, with fewer gaps between planks.
Easier cleaning and maintenance: Finishing makes ipe hardwood decking Florida resist stains better while making it easy to clean. Instead of soaking into the timber, spills, and dirt were wiped away. When compared to sanding raw boards, finishing also enables an easy refinish in case of future wear and tear.
Therefore, professional application is recommended to ensure complete saturation and a long-lasting finish. Alternatively, consideration should be given to pre-finishing at the factory for ease of application and best penetration upon installation.
If sealed before installation on all six sides and then maintained over time, this will bring out Ipe’s full potential benefits, including timeless beauty with added value that stays forever. In almost all cases where residential or commercial decking is concerned, though it may seem costly and time-consuming at first glance, finished Ipe is worth both the cost and effort involved.