Tigerwood Deck Finish

This post has been updated 9.03.14, see final paragraph.

We learned something useful this week about finishes for tropical hardwood decks.

The typical deck finish is made to absorb into wood, but when used on a really hard tropical wood, like Tigerwood, (not to be confused with Tiger Woods), it just sits on top of the surface and eventually looks bad.

Like this:


We visited Daly’s, our local expert on wood finishes, and were recommended to use their product, Ship ‘n Shore, an oil-based waterproofing sealer.

Before we did that, we went through some steps to clean the surface:

  • swept and cleaned out debris between the boards
  • applied a vinegar and water solution (about 1 cup to 2 gallons) and scrubbed with brush and scotchbrite pad to remove dirt and yuckiness
  • rinsed with hose
  • lightly sanded remaining areas that still had old discolored finish with random orbital palm sander (100 grit)
  • applied wood brightener, rinsed
  • applied Ship ‘n Shore finish with foam brush

Now it looks much better.

I’m not going to lie – it was a LOT of work, especially removing all the old finish. Hopefully that step will not be necessary next year and we will just be able to clean, brighten and finish – no heavy duty scrubbing or sanding.

We will keep you posted on how it holds up.

You could actually leave the wood without a finish, and it will weather to a silvery gray. But if you want to keep the rich red tones, you will have to maintain it with some sort of finish every year. Painful but true.

Update, 9 months later (4.01.14):

I have to say, I’m disappointed with this finish. Maybe the long wet winter is to blame, but the Ship ‘n Shore didn’t seem to hold up very well. After about 4 months, the wood started to look dingy and gray. If anyone out there has any suggestions, I’m all ears. Until then, I’m off to do more research to find a great deck finish for tropical hardwoods!

Update (9.03.14):

I may have found a sealer that works! This spring, I did some more research and refinished the deck using “Ipe Oil“. It was given high ratings on deck finishing sites. I put it on about 3 months ago and it is holding up well so far. I will need to re-apply annually, but that’s the price you pay for a wood deck.

See more of Heidi’s artwork at Old Stuff. New Stories.

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