Finishing a wooden deck

In the last year I published more articles about Wooden deck construction. When done well, wooden decks can be beautiful, permanent additions to your home’s living space that are projected into nature. I have a particular interest in wooden decks because witnessing their premature failure was an inspiration for this website.

Unfortunately, many decks are built as an afterthought and are not designed or built to withstand the punitive elements to which they are exposed. As a result, too many wooden decks (most of which are made of lovely materials like redwood or cedar) end up in the landfill before their time.

Fight against the elements

The protective coating of the deck is the first line of defense against the elements. In this post I want to show you the importance of applying a finish to a new wooden deck during installation. Installation is the best time to apply the first top coats as this will be the only time you will ever have full and easy access to all sides of the decking. You will only get one shot so take your time and do it right.


In this example we are preparing to install IPE Material, but it is applicable to all types of decking. I love IPE because it’s absolutely awesome. It is also insect-resistant, hard-wearing and stable (very dense, few twists, knots, tears, etc.). All of these things, of course, make it very desirable and expensive. It is also a rainforest product. And while we only use FSC certified wood, I think IPE deserves special treatment and honor by only using it in the best planned and executed applications.

A disadvantage of IPE is that the surface has to be recoated every 18 to 24 months to keep the rich color. If the surface is not painted over, it will take on a weathered gray color, similar to teak. Applying a good finish makes subsequent applications much easier. We use Bought IPE Oil here from Amazon. If we need to add color (this is sometimes needed for follow-up applications) we can use Sikkens stain products are also available here from Amazon.


I’ve included a video of the initial dyeing and finishing process here. This was a large installation so we put a system in place to process long parts in bulk. Even with all the staff and infrastructure in place, handling these boards and getting the first coat of paint is a slow process. The process is as follows:

  1. Wipe each board clean and sand all of the sides
  2. Put in a dip container and let soak for 5 minutes
  3. Work the solution into the grain and grooves with a brush
  4. Wipe off the excess
  5. Stack the finished boards on “finished” stickers for drying and eventual use
  6. Once the boards are installed, they are sanded again and a final layer is applied and wiped off.
  7. Make sure you don’t keep any Oily ragsin a sealed, water-filled can of water.

Before the finishing process, these panels were pre-grooved on site. The grooves serve to accommodate the invisible Tiger claw Fastening system used to attach the planks to the structure. This keeps the surface flawless. If you like a surface with no fasteners, this is the Tiger Claw product is available here at Amazon.


It is important to stack the material and let it dry completely. This way the material can be easily handled during installation. The drying rack stickers must also be coated with IPE oil, as raw wood stickers will absorb the finish from the boards and permanently leave unattractive white lines on them. Wooden decks must be sealed on all sides, including the cut ends of each panel. The final sealing is particularly important for the pre-finishing of a wooden deck with IPE wood.

By pre-processing your decking boards, the end product is extended by years and the regular maintenance time is significantly reduced. Special thanks to ProStaff painting in San Carlos CA for their help with this project.

Do you have a wooden deck project ahead of you? Feel free to contact me directly if you have any questions?

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Disclaimer of liability

The views expressed above are the author’s own.


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