Cleaning and Refinishing Hardwood Decking

Ipe’ decking, cumaru, jatoba, massaranduba, garapa and tigerwood hardwood decking is the most beautiful decking in the world.  To maintain the color and pronounced grain patterns, you must finish the deck periodically with a good oil-based deck finish made especially for hardwoods.  Finishes that are not specifically developed for hardwoods do not penetrate the wood enough for proper protection.  We’ve found that Messmers hardwood oil performs better than the other options for the same price.

When ipe’ and these other decking choices are not finished, the pigment will wash out, the color will fade and the boards will gray over time.  All wood grays but the lively color of these woods can be restored.  You can use a cleaner mixed with water to brush the gray out of the decking.  Then, apply the finish.  The restoration is fantastic and the wood looks new again.

Most of these cleaners have oxalic acid as their active ingredient.  This will not harm metals, your hands, plants or concrete.  Wet the decking down with the cleaner, keep it wet for 30 minutes and then push the gray away with a brush.  Rinse off the cleaner and gray residue.  Leave this dry over night and apply the finish.  Penofin, Messmers and other companies all offer good cleaners that perform well.  Messmers offers the concentrated cleaner in a liquid, which mixes more easily with water than all of the other powder concentrates.

Here are before and after pictures of a deck that had grayed and faded.

Finish Deck Before Sm Finish Deck After Sm

Cleaning your hardwood deck does not require the use of a pressure washer. As a matter of fact it is recommended you do not use a pressure washer on hardwoods as they leave streaking and often tend to raise the grain giving a rough undesirable surface. They can also damage surrounding structures.  Light sanding can be done as necessary using caution to avoid removal of the color of coated screws that are not properly countersunk and also to avoid removal of the eased edges on the boards.  You do not want sharp corners on your deck boards.

Cleaning your deck lightly before reapplications of deck finish is a good idea if there is residue, stains or dirt on your deck.  Sometimes, furniture or other metal objects left on your deck will create black stains.  These are easily removed with muriatic acid.  Dilute the acid with water by 50% and dab it on the stain with a rag.  Watch it disappear and rinse it with water.  It’s that easy.  Muriatic acid will not discolor or otherwise harm your deck.

Hardwood ipe decking, purple heart, cumaru, massaranduba, garapa and tigerwood are the only types of decking that can be restored after graying.  Simply follow the cleaning steps above to remove the gray then refinish the deck after it dries thoroughly.

There are few things in life that are truly “maintenance free” retaining all of the original “like new” properties.  Hardwood decking will retain its durability if it grays but the beautiful color adds much to the wood’s allure.  It’s wonderful that the beauty of your hardwood deck can be restored if the periodic finishing has been left out for a while.

3 replies
  1. Barbara gillingham
    Barbara gillingham says:

    Is there a cleaning product you recommend or is water and soap scrubbing all you need. We have grease stains that probably require sanding? Than you for your help

  2. Shana
    Shana says:

    I have the Messmers cleaner and brightener. What finish product do you recommend. I’m not crazy about the golden brown that is the result of Ipe oil, with UV protectant. I love the rich reds of my cumuru and I keep losing those with the finishing products.


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