4 yr old ipe deck: to finish or leave gray?

June 1, 2010

My ipe deck was built 4 years ago. It was finished after being built, which was good for 6 months or so.

2 years ago I did the restore-a-deck cleaning treatment with a rented pressure washer. This year I am doing it again (bought my own gas pressure washer at Costco this time though). Last time I left it unfinished, this time I am second-guessing this decision.

I am actually fine with the natural gray look. My primary concern is the buildup of organic growth from our 9 months of typical Seattle wet weather each year, and the pollen and other "stuff" that floats down from our neighbor's birch trees. It gets green and black and definitely needs removal at 2 year intervals. Otherwise it is a slipping hazard when wet. I probably should clean it every year, it looks kinda crappy after one year but isn't a death trap when wet like it is after 2 years.

What I am wondering is:

(1) If I make the effort to finish the deck with TWP116 as John Hyatt recommends (wet-on-wet, followed by another coat after 3 months, and then an annual maintenance coat after cleaning), will the finish inhibit the slippery organic growth?

(2) Will the finished deck be easier to clean than leaving it unfinished?

Or is the organic growth just a fact of life with my environment, and maybe now that I have my own pressure washer I just need to wash it every year so it isn't such a big chore every two years like I have been doing?

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