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Ipe Deck Refinishing: Varnish Removal

Video Transcription:

Hey everyone, Tim Gilliam with Teak Master here, and we’re in beautiful, sunny Newport Beach, California, and we’re about to get started on refinishing an Ipe deck that has been coated with varnish. Why you shouldn’t use varnish? Okay, so you never want to use varnish on any sort of exterior deck. It’s a large horizontal surface, and it doesn’t matter if it’s Ipe, Mangaris, Teak, or Redwood or Cedar. The wood is going to microscopically expand and contract as it’s done on this deck. And if you take a look here, we’ve got this area where you have a little bit of color, and you have this area over here that has been scorched and damaged by the varnish. What has happened is the wood has microscopically expanded and contracted along the grain, and then moisture has gotten underneath, and it’s turned black. That’s probably black mold in there, who knows, but it’s unhealthy and it needs to be removed, and it’s unsightly. The deck shouldn’t be coated with this type of film-forming finish. They do not last. It’s a huge misconception that varnishes or film-forming finishes are some sort of commercial finish or stronger finish. They’re not. The key is using a maintainable finish, which are the penetrating oil sealer finishes. And if you take a look again down here, the furniture was over this area, so it protected essentially this area here. That’s why you see some color, but all around where the sofa was is black and is peeling and is unsightly. So we’re going to go ahead and show you the method on what it takes to refinish it, and I hope you enjoy.

Inspection: So, the first thing that we do when we’re out is the team lead project manager will walk the site and we’ll inspect anything to see if anything is broken or if you see any damage like the marks that you see down here from the previous contractor that messed up this deck. They’ve gotten sealer or varnish or whatever it is on the beautiful stone here, and it’s all over the stone. So there are foot marks, there are brush marks, and they’ve really done a number on all of these surfaces. So when we’re doing our initial inspection, we also wanted to point out that there is a light that is broken and is missing. So our thorough inspection before we get started with our client and documenting with photos is absolutely essential.

Varnish Removal: The guys carefully move off the very beautiful Gloucester furniture, and then we move it off into a safe area and we cover it with plastic. You just want to make sure that no dust gets on it or gets in the pool. We carefully cover the pool and Jacuzzi so no dust enters. We chose to use our Festool dustless system, which is great. The Festool is very powerful and removes the varnish very easily. Scoops it up and puts it into the filtered chamber system here. We sand to remove all of the varnish and weathering and expose fresh new smooth raw wood.

Okay, guys, so we now have the deck fully sanded, and as you can see, it’s back to beautiful raw smooth Ipe. We removed all of the contaminants, the black mold, the mildew, the peeling varnish, everything. It’s down to bare wood, and what we’re going to do right now is we’re going to hose it off. We want to get the dust that has settled in the grain. We want to get it removed. We want to just flush it out into the pan below, and it will wash out to the grass.

And then we’re going to go ahead and put some wood brightener on to promote the color, eliminate any contaminants that have been embedded in the wood, and it just brightens it, makes it perfect and prepped for the next step, which would be the application of the sealer.

Wood Brightener Application: And what the guys are doing right here is they’re wiping on or mopping on the wood brightener. The client doesn’t want any sort of runoff, even though the wood brightener is totally safe to do and it wouldn’t damage anything. This is the method they prefer, and it’s 100% fine. It can be mopped on just as they’re doing.

Okay, so now that the wood brightener has been applied, we need to neutralize. So he’s hosing off the deck one more time to neutralize the wood brightener and prep it for the sealer. Voila!

Protective Coating Application: Okay, so now we’re doing the protective coating finish that is specifically formulated for ipe. And the oil-based penetrating finishes are still the best because they look natural, they’re maintainable, and it’s all about maintainability. So these sealers are formulated to penetrate as deep as they possibly can into this rock-hardwood, and we apply it with these special brushes that are marine brushes that hold an enormous amount of the sealer. And I’m going to hand this to Missil, and he’s going to go ahead and show you how we apply.

He saturates his brush, and as you can see, the brushes hold an enormous amount of the sealer. So he’s starting at one end of the board, and he’s going to continue with these two boards all the way down, two or three boards, all the way down to the end, and continue until he finishes these three boards all the way to the natural end of the board. You never want to stop and start over and stop in the middle of a board and then go, you know, to the other boards and then connect later because you’re going to get lapping marks and connecting marks, and you don’t want that. You don’t want lines on the deck. You want a clean, smooth, consistent outcome.

And by the time he’s done with these three boards, the sealer would have penetrated to its full potential. I know some of the manufacturers say leave this on for 20 minutes, 30 minutes, 40 minutes, whatever it is. But, you know, we’re really subjected to Mother Nature’s influences, I guess you could say, whenever we’re applying this finish. You don’t want to leave it on for too long because it’s going to flash, and it could possibly get sticky. You know, the wood is as hard as a rock, and it’s only going to accept so much of the sealer. It is absolutely rock hard, and this is why it’s used for these environments because it is going to last forever. There’s only so much of the finish that it’s going to accept.

And he’s working it in, working it in the grain, allowing the sealer to penetrate to its full potential. And he’s very careful about the stone when he finished off those three boards. So now he’s walking over, he’s grabbing the rags, and he’s going to take off the excess sealer. So he’s doing a very mild wipe of the protective coating so we could leave as much as we possibly can on but take off the finish that has not absorbed into the wood.

Now, today we’ve got a good, maybe 85-degree day here in Newport Beach, and that’s considered super hot even in this time of year, August. We’re going through a heat wave, so we really want to be conscious of not having the finish dry too quickly and become sticky or gummy. So we’ll just continue to the end of the three boards and make sure that he’s only wiping off the excess sealer that has not penetrated into the wood.

Before After: Take a look at the disastrous before [Music], and now the magnificent after. It just shows you how resilient and beautiful this wood really is.

Outro: Hey guys, thank you so much for tuning in to our deck varnish removal video. I hope you like what you saw. If you like it, go ahead and click that like button, and go ahead and follow us because we’re definitely going to be having more videos coming out.

And better yet, if you have any comments that you’d like to leave, let us know. If you want to see more videos on different woods or different techniques, we can go ahead and see what we can do. Also, if you have your own technique that may be a little bit different from us, or if you have a question, or if you have a better technique to do these things, let us know. We’re always looking to improve what we do, and we appreciate you guys.

Thank you so much for tuning in. Tim Gilliam with Teak Master signing out.

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