There’s certainly more to installing your new tropical hardwood deck than simply giving your boards time to come to an equilibrium with their new environment, planning for proper spacing, and accommodating the species-specific issues that can arise. But those things are definitely a good start. You need to realize that your decking boards are not finished products; after their long journey from South America, they will require planing and sanding after they’re installed. But that’s not all.
Importance of Cleaning Your New Ipe Deck
Once rough spots and water stains have been addressed through planing and sanding, your boards may still require some TLC in the form of cleaning. A deck cleaner and brightener can do a world of good, but it’s important that you choose a mild abrasive that will rid your deck of the dirt and grime that’s been baked onto and ground into your decking boards. A quality cleaner will be able to rid your boards of unwanted additions that even a pressure washer can’t eliminate.
Effects of Brightening Your New Ipe Deck
After using a cleaner, using a brightener can help remove any graying that occurs from exposure to UV rays. Essentially, these products contain an acid that bleaches or lightens the boards. Beware of cheaper products that use actual bleach, which poses other problems, particularly when you try to apply stains or oils later on; chlorine bleach products can also negatively affect plants and soil surrounding the deck. Quality brighteners use citric acid, instead, which is gentler on the wood.
Depending on your deck’s appearance after applying a cleaner, you may be able to skip the brightener. If you’re not sure, give it a few days after the cleaning step to evaluate the color. If the colors vary greatly from board to board, a brightener can help blend the look. Brighteners can also be used later on when your deck needs a little revitalization.
Comparison to Composite Materials
Perhaps at this point, you’re a bit frustrated to learn that your expensive new Ipe decking boards not only fall short of being finished products, but your deck itself will require periodic maintenance in order to stay looking good. In the wake of this realization, composite materials may hold great appeal. But remember that not only is buying exotic lumber good for the environment, but it’s also superior to man-made materials in many other respects.
Your Ipe deck will require some periodic maintenance throughout the years, but in exchange for that minimal effort, it will serve you well and look great for decades! And once it surpasses its usefulness, the boards will naturally decay, continuing the life cycle of lumber that contributes to our healthy global ecosystem.