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How to Clean & Restore Outdoor Patio Ipe Wood Furniture

Video Transcription:

Hey, everyone. Tim Gilliam with Teak Master here, and we are at the warehouse where we refinish a lot of outdoor wood furniture and we have some ipe furniture here that has weathered and oxidized and looks really unsightly. You’ve got a little bit of black mold, you have some algae, still have some of the previous coating left on here, and we want to show you how it’s brought back to its original look, talk about some of its attributes, and some of the weathering characteristics, as well as some of the maintenance. Hope you guys enjoy, hold on for the ride.

Read more: How to Clean & Restore Outdoor Patio Ipe Wood Furniture

So, this particular piece is really unique. It’s a wood swivel rocker. You know, this is gray and oxidized, so it looks really unsightly. And I just wanted to point out some of the attributes of the chair. You know, right here you’ve got some grain that is opening up a little bit and that’s natural with really any type of furniture. You’ve got the end grain here that’s not as smooth as the horizontal surface here, so when we refinish it, it’s probably going to be dark. Um, you’ve got this mesh seat that’s really durable. It’s got an interesting way to fasten it with these screws which I’ve kind of never really seen before and you’ve got this piece right here where they’ve actually used two pieces of wood to make this. You’ve got some separation here which is normal because of expanding and contracting of the wood.

You can’t really fill this – we get people asking all the time: can’t you just put a little putty? can’t you guys stick some chewing gum in there or whatever? You know, like no, we can’t because it’s going to look unsightly even if you use a color filler or putty or something like that. It’s going to look terrible. This is not coming apart anytime soon. It’s very durable. It just doesn’t, you know, look that great, but once everything is refinished and up to speed, you’re not even going to notice this.

Okay, so, what he’s doing right now is he’s just hosing down the furniture, so we can loosen up some of the surface dirt. Get everything a little bit soggy. I mean, this wood is as hard as a rock, so it’s not going to really get soggy or anything. But we just want to loosen up some of the dirt and, um, that way, when we wash it, you know, the dirt’s going to really just fly off and be removed. So just a matter of soaking, it super easy.

Okay, guys, so here are the results after cleaning, and as you can see, it’s a world of difference, but it’s not perfect, right? We can’t just leave it like this because it still has oxidation, some discoloring, and then it’s not smooth to the touch. In fact, it almost feels splintery, which it’s not, I mean, I’m rubbing my hand on it, and I don’t have any splinters. But, it’s not perfect.

You’ve got those blow and go finishing pros out there that will call themselves companies and try to come out and they’ll power wash your furniture and slap some oil on it. You’ll get a color change and they’ll call it a day, but that’s not refinishing. Cleaning and power washing is not refinishing. The next step, sanding, that is refinishing. Sanding is what’s going to restore the smooth grain back to the wood. It’s going to remove all this discoloration. We’re going to remove this gray oxidation in between the slats because we sand all of this stuff and essentially what sanding is going to do is going to get it back to its original state or as close to its original state as possible and we’ll go ahead and show you how we do it.

Okay, so, what we’re doing is we’re hosing down the furniture after it’s been sanded to remove dust from the grain and look at this beautiful natural color. So, we just want to make sure that everything’s perfectly clean, so we saturate it, and now Fernando is going to go ahead and apply the brightener. So, we apply the brightener, and that promotes color, eliminates contaminant, and hopefully prevents the mildew and black mold and algae and things like that from returning. And you want to do it when the wood is wet, so that’s why you hose it off and then we’ll go ahead and neutralize it. Make sure you get everything. I’m going to go ahead and neutralize now, so you let the brightener sit for a period of time. I’d say 5, 10 minutes. Don’t let it dry and then you neutralize it by hosing it off again. Again, this is for demonstration purposes so you let it sit for a while, let it do its thing and then you neutralize it by hosing it down again. Thoroughly hosing it down neutralizes that oxalic acid and voila, let it dry thoroughly so you can put on the finish.

Just wanted to point out a few things about the chair – even after cleaning and sanding and brightening and doing everything, it’s ready for the finish. I just wanted to talk about, you know, what we can and can’t do and what expectations are. So, it looks beautiful from afar and it looks beautiful close up, but again, we have where these two pieces are joined together. We have the seam, um, this natural expanding and contracting of the wood. You can’t really put any filler in there because it’s going to look terrible. Okay, I don’t care if it’s colored filler. I don’t care if it’s white or clear or whatever. It doesn’t need to. It’s structurally sound. It’s not coming apart. You also have two different colored woods here. You got a lighter wood. You have a darker wood here and when the sealer gets on, it’s going to magnify the color. And, um, it’s just natural wood, right, so I also wanted to point out, you know, we sanded in between the slats, so it’s very, very detailed work.

Also, I wanted to point out here, we’ve got this arm and we have some expanding and contracting of the wood. Som we have some cracks here that are natural. Again, it’s as hard as a rock. This is natural expanding and contracting of the grain. You can see it’s kind of curved where the grain is actually curved and this is normal. It doesn’t need to be filled. It doesn’t need to have anything to fill this up. It’s natural, natural, natural. Expanding, contracting. We also have the end grain here. Right, this is the cut. It’s been sanded, but you can can see it’s a different color from the top and the end.

Here’s more end grain you can see right here. We’ve got one color. It’s very smooth. We sanded this and it’s a different color, so I wanted to point that out because once we get the finish on here this turns dark or it looks kind of fuzzy or it looks like it’s just not finished right no matter how much we sand. No matter how fine of a piece of sandpaper we get, it’s going to be a different color, so we just wanted to point that out. And this is natural, you know, they’ve got to cut it somewhere and it’s the end grain, so you’re going to see it be a little bit different color, a little bit different texture, and you’re going to see all these little stress cracks which is normal. You have it over here, as well, this is normal, and then you also have it here on the ends of each of these arms. So, it’s natural again. This is as much as we could possibly do to recreate the original look and it looks stunning in person.

Now, what we’re going to show you is applying the coating. Okay, so, now what we’re doing is applying the final step, which is applying the penetrating oil finish. Penetrating oil finishes are the best because they’re maintainable. It’s all about maintainability. Unfortunately, there just aren’t any coatings out there that are going to last many years. It just doesn’t exist, and as we talked about before. This wood expands and contracts, so we’re kind of limited on what we can use.

You can’t use varnishes or film forming finishes on this type of wood because the wood expands and contracts with temperature change. What doesn’t expand and contract are hard finishes like varnish or multiple coat systems water-based products. So, expanding and contracting, varnish doesn’t expand and contract, it opens. Water gets underneath and it’s just a recipe for disaster, especially with furniture like this that has a million slats. You cannot use varnish, unless it’s under a covered patio or something like that. So, penetrating oil finishes are the best because they look natural. They’re maintainable moving forward and they’re easily appliable, so you can apply it with a brush and just work it in like we are doing.

We’re fortunate enough to work on this furniture here at the shop, so we’re working in shade. You know, so basically, what he’s going to do is the entire chair. Allow it to penetrate as much as it possibly can and then he’ll wipe off the excess. So, oil penetrating finishes usually are not multiple coat systems – they’re one coat systems. One coat, meaning that they saturate the wood to its full potential, and then you wipe off the excess. Multiple coats does not necessarily mean better. Remember, I said that multiple coats does not necessarily mean better. Especially when it comes to outdoor wood furniture, right. Don’t want anything to blister and peel. You want things to look natural and then you want it to be maintainable moving forward. As you can see he’s applying it by brush and then just allowing it to penetrate and it’s magnifying the natural grain and color of each and every piece of this beautiful swivel.

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