Caring for Coating Ipe, Ironwood, and Other Hardwoods

Exotic hardwoods are a popular building material. They have a high natural oil content and strong dense wood fibers making them strong and naturally rot and insect resistant. So what’s not to love about hardwoods? It is that the boards weather grey. Not a pleasing look for the homeowner that wants the original rich coloration of the wood.

Staining exotic woods is difficult for the very same reasons we love it. The natural oils and dense wood fibers allow very little stain to absorb into the wood surface. Therefore it requires more frequent maintenance.

Doug Wilson, owner of PaintSource.net, the Painting Information Network, says he “likes to see the wood dry and weather 2-3 months to lose a little of the surface oils.” Then use a deck cleaner and oxalic wood brightener prior to coating. For a sooner application, sand the wood with 60 to 80 grit sandpaper. Just prior to coating wipe with Acetone, allow 10 minutes to dry and apply stain. Acetone removes surface oils thus permitting more stain to adhere to the surface of the hardwood.

Our best testimonial about coating hardwoods: In 2006 a crew at a marina in Florida applied one coat of Base Coat to a well-seasoned hardwood dock and has been reordering ever since. They tell us the longevity of Base Coat is more than double the longevity of the product they were using. As we learn more, hear feedback on other coated hardwood projects and develop new products, we will keep you up to date.

Product coverage (sq. ft./gal.) is almost double when coating hardwoods vs domestic wood. This emphasizes the difficulty to deliver enough stain into the surface to give longevity of the color tone. So it is not surprising to hear that coating on hardwoods with high amount of sun exposure last visually 6-8 months. Doug comments that he often sees greater longevity of the color after a maintenance coat as it has time to season more.

NatureColor® Base Coat is Structures Wood Cares, Inc.’s recommended product.