There is no such thing as a maintenance free deck.
Every deck surface, whether Ipe, treated wood or
tim composites will feel the effects of the
outdoors. Mold and mildew, dirt, grease, tree droppings, leaves, sun and
rain are all
tough on your deck. When it comes to deck maintenance, every case is
factors include traffic, pets, insects, tree coverage, sun exposure, and believe
it or not, the amount of glass on the rear of your house. The primary cause
of treated wood deck aging seems to be direct sunlight. Extreme exposure bakes the wood,
drying and splitting it prematurely. This dry wood then readily absorbs rain
water like a sponge. It's this shrinking and expanding cycle that causes
wood to split, the grain to raise and splinters to form. This is why a
deck on a house with tons of windows on the back magnifying the sun and directing it
onto the deck age very quickly. Sometimes a brand new deck
may appear faded or sun bleached after only a couple months in such locations. Ipe
is not likely to be as affected by these cycles as it is incredibly
dense and absorbs little to no moisture, but can be difficult to
maintain a finish in these tougher environments. The composites may fade
a bit more in strong light situations but do ok other then that.
In darker or
moister environments mold and mildew can become a problem, and here the
composites suffer equally. Mold will thrive in warm, damp dark areas and
attach to any semi-porous surface, the spore colonies spread easily and
can be tenacious to clean and remove.
We weather seal all our
immediately upon completion of work using a good penetrating oil based product, either Cabot's or Sikkens,
depending on the wood and finish wanted.
The myth is, or was, that you let the wood
pressure treated or cedar lumber before applying deck sealer. Newer deck sealing
materials are formulated to go on new wood with high moisture content immediately.
This is great news since much of the damage due to accelerated drying can happen
in the first month after the deck was built. A good double coating (wet on
wet) is the foundation to longevity. Next is periodic resealing or
staining. It may be necessary to sand or clean the wood surface after awhile
before reapplying. Depending on how dirty the surface is you can clean
using regular bleach and water mixed with detergent, or higher prices deck
cleaners. Usually, a stiff brush and a little elbow grease goes a long way, but in
extreme cases a pressure washer comes in handy. Just be careful not to harm the
wood instead of just cleaning it. A nice little random orbit hand held sander is
a great tool for cleaning and smoothing rough areas or just knocking down raised
grain. This does not make you a slave to your deck as we are talking
about a couple of hours maybe twice a year. (You do wash and wax your car twice
a year don't you.)
Intervals of reapplying is strictly on an as needed basis.
Better weather sealers and stains penetrate the wood and last longer, but don't
usually contain paraffin waxes like the cheap products do, so they might still
be working fine even if water isn't beading up off the deck like your car's
finish. Just watch the color of your wood and see if the sealer or stain
is drying up or the color is starting to fade. Try to keep your deck relativity
clean from leaves and tree droppings. Generally sealers or stains with a
little color or tint last
longer than completely clear sealers. Ipe is very dense and will absorb very
little stain or sealer at any one time, so it is important to build up several
distinct light coats over a time.
Here is a prime example of a early
maintenance free deck. As you can see mold is just as happy growing on recycled plastic and oak pallets as it is on
new wood! this early composite decking has swollen which prevents good drainage
and accelerates the growth of mold. Newer composites have addressed these
problems and are less likely to swell but it is still important to maintain
The solution for mold
and mildew.... regular
cleaning with bleach and water, or various
deck cleaners (ex: T.S.P. trisodium phosphate). there are also enzyme
cleaners available and deck cleaners aimed at composites like
Corte.clean. Also required will be some good old fashion elbow grease IE
scrubbing, or careful pressure washing, as mold be stubborn to
Just don't give mold a chance to grow. If your deck is
subject to mold, then cleaning dirt and bug or tree dropping off before mold
has somewhere to attach and grow is the key.
or Ipe decking is considered to be the best outdoor decking product. Its
durability is second to none. As close to a zero maintenance deck as possible.
Ipe when allowed to age becomes a beautiful
silver patina. Of course many customers love the rich deep natural colors on the
wood and choose to maintain the finish with periodical oilings. But, when
allowed to patina, Ipe will not rot or decay, and will remain smooth and
splinter free. Ipe's tight dense grain will also supply less tooth for
mold to attach to then most others woods and composites.(not to say mold
will not grow on Ipe) Pictured here
is Ipe that has seasoned a few years outside with no sealers. Please
notice the tight splinter free grain structure and overall handsome appearance.
Regular Maintenance will greatly influence the beauty and
longevity of your deck.