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Old 07-17-2008, 08:56 AM   #1
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Deck help


Hi. We recently purchased a home that was built with a deck in 1999. The sellers (not builders) stained the deck two years ago with an olympic stain that was also supposed to have a water sealant. The color (redwood) of the deck looks fairly good, but the top of the rails has cupped slightly and a couple of boards have stain worn off. A few boards also have slight cracking and show signs of drying out. There is absolutely no beading when I water test the deck.

What should I do? My highest priority is to water seal to prevent additional wear (cracking, cupping, etc.). I would probably try to use a sealant and stain combination, but they one's I have found say that I must remove the old stuff first, which I am hesitant to do because it looks pretty good as is. I worry too that the olympic was supposed to last 5 yrs, but there is absolutely no beading after 2 yrs. Lastly, the water sealant only products seem to only guarantee a year or so, which would require much more regular care.

I need some guidance. Any expertise would be greatly appreciated for this first-time homeowner.

Blessings.

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Old 07-17-2008, 11:36 AM   #2
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Deck help


Hi Pepperdeaf!

1st-off:
* After nearly 10 years, it's time to sand that deck!
* Up here in Fargo, ND the climate variation is murderous to wood...-30 to an occasional +100...a tough environment for a deck...especially when there's no shade on it (like MY situation!).
* Rent a 12" x 18" Vibrating-plate sander for your deck floor.
* Buy a backer-pad or two, some 60-grit sheets, & some 80-grit sheets.
* Sand WITH the long-run of your boards, until you get to good/even ORIGINAL wood tone/color.
* Sweep, then vacuum (Shop-vac time!), & wipe with a paint-thinner-dampened rag for final dust removal.
* For hand-rail tops and steps, use a palm-sander.

NOW you've essentially got NEW wood again!!
* All Sun/water-degraded wood is now gone.
* More importantly, strong/open wood fibers are now exposed.
* This enables any new stain to PENETRATE EVENLY, and HOLD ONTO any new stain much better than a 10 y.o. deck that's only been "cleaned".

"Water-beading":
* This is a meaningless benefit...the SUN is 27 times more destructive than water sitting on a deck.
* Oil stains that soak into wood do 98% of the job of UV-protection.
* UV damage (same principle here as Skin protection!!) breaks down the Lignin & cellulose fibers in wood...FAST.

MY Redwood deck is 12 y.o. now...
* West exposure, NO shade, 6' off ground, 1 Golden-Retriever!
* 3 yrs. ago I sanded as above.
* Used Sikkens SRD Redwood #089 Stain.
* It still looks very good!
* Water-beading effect??? Gone after 2 days.

We go through a LOT of Sikkens stains at our store!
We also have Cabot, Penofin, & ACE-Royal stains too...

Faron

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Old 07-17-2008, 01:00 PM   #3
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A customer of mine had the same problem and I did what Faron recommends just last week; in this case, they had 2 layers of an opaque - almost paint-like - stain that only came off well using #36 grit sandpaper under an orbital sander as described above.

About 8 hours later it looks good as new, but up here where our conditins are as harsh as Faron's, we know it'll take yearly or biyearly re-treatment and sanding about every 4-5 yrs. I charged them about $380 + stain. Sander + sandpaper was about $80.
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Old 07-17-2008, 01:10 PM   #4
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Are your thoughts that the previous homeowner must have waited far too long to apply the stain and water treatment . . . thusly putting a new treatment on wood that was already dried out? And so if I sand down to nicer wood and reapply that I will increase deck life?

Do I need to worry about the cracking/cupping or simply retreat and hope to prevent increased future damage?

If water beading is not a good test of deck condition, are there other tests for whether my deck needs to be retreated?

Sorry. Lastly, ccarlisle, when you say that the deck needs to be retreated yearly or so, but not sanded . . . does that mean you stain/seal over the existing deck or use a cleaner and take the old stuff off and then retreat?

Thank you so much for your expertise. Blessings.
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Old 07-17-2008, 02:26 PM   #5
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Yes, my customer did 2 things wrong IMO: he put down a paint-like covering that gave UV protection because of the solid colour and then left it too long before re-treating it, about 3-4 years. But UV protection eventually wears away and thus he had cracking and chipping.

Straight water treatments like Thompsons Water-Seal are really only meant for untreated wood and give somewhat of a protection against water infiltration. Lasts only about a year up here...

Is your wood pressure-treated? Where are you located? I don't think the waterbead test is the only test for the health of your deck; our own deck here has been put down about 20 years and this year for the first time I had to replace 8' of wood. It's about 15'x15' and pressure treated. I do cleean it witha pressure washer every two years and treat it with acid to keep the greying under control. But then our deck is covered durting the summer. I do use a bit of bleach here and there to remove the mildew.

If my deck were stained, I would clean it every other year and put down a new layer of semi-transparent sealer on it.
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Old 07-17-2008, 02:45 PM   #6
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I live in West Lafayette, IN.

I do not know about pressure treated wood?

The deck really looks pretty good and my father in law says just put a sealant over the top, but I am concerned with the "dry" nature of the wood and the cracking, cupping, etc.

It seems that what the previous owners should have done is sand, etc. then put down their stain/sealant, because when they put it down it just seems to soak into the boards. The railings look near perfect, but the floor and top of the railings are where the cracking and wear has begun to show.

I guess I just hate to start over with sanding when it looks pretty good now, but I probably need to do it or I will regret it in a couple of years.

Blessings
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Old 07-17-2008, 03:41 PM   #7
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Well, there you go...the variations in technology and availabilty of products continues to astound me. How many times have I asked people where they are from precisely to get an idea about their weather conditions? forgot...I think they should make it mandatory that people show where they are from.

Still, Indiana has somewhat the same weather as our Southern Ontario - but being that as it may, your deck should have been made out of pressure treated wood. This is wood that is treated with antifungal and antibacterial products that prolong it useful life. Currently the treatmet is with a chemical called CCA that turns it dark greenish. This is wood meant for out-of-doors as it will not decay or rot. It's a preservative and water repellent in one.

It may be that therein lies your problem. If your deck is more than 5-6 years old, made out of regular wood, and you live in a moderate climate, then it will rapidly deteriorate. OK lets say this is happening. Sand it back to new wood then treat it with a wood preservative. Let that sit for a week or more then stain it the colour you want.
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Old 07-17-2008, 07:33 PM   #8
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The cracking and cupping is more for lack of UV protection then water protection

A 'sealer' generally only protects against water (regardless of claims on the can)

Unless you are coating with the same product (and I strongly suggest you don't, that product is mediocre at best), most any product will require removal of as much of the old product as possible
That's just the way it goes

You can do it chemically, or mechanically
Be sure to set all the nails before you sand, if you do as Faron describes
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Old 07-17-2008, 11:43 PM   #9
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My personal "sanding-saga" continues...

Day off today! Spent 1/2 of it sanding the front & back of the spindles...OH WHAT FUN!!! There's no practical way to sand the "facing" sides...and besides...THAT seems like overkill!

I did let these 2 areas go too long...they're CLEANED every couple of years with a deck cleaner, BUT...
* As I stated earlier, cleaning doesn't magically make wood smooth again!
* All degraded fibers need to be sanded off for ANY stain to have a chance.

Pretend you never heard the "sealant first" from your relatives!!
* If you use 2 different products at the same time (within days of each other anyway...), the first product (the SEALER) will just prevent the actual STAIN from penetrating and doing the bulk of the work, which IS...

>>> ...Absorbing into and protecting wood fibers with the pigments that are part of the stain!!!

* Slicks' right too..."water sealers" aren't any use for a deck.
* They just cause poor penetration of stains, and soon wear away, leaving a blotchy appearance...because the stain couldn't penetrate very well!

Even with the best wood, best prep, etc., etc.,.... you might get 2 years off!
* It's then time for a cleaning, and light re-coating of stain.
* This practice will KEEP YOU AHEAD OF THE SUN'S DAMAGE.
* A full sanding (of horizontal surfaces) 6-8 years is a decent schedule too.

Check out Sikkens website...
www.nam.sikkens.com
VERY good cleaning/maintenance info. there!!
The SRD line is your option for Semi-transparent stains.

Faron
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Old 07-18-2008, 05:35 AM   #10
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UV causes the most damage to finishes whereas cupping and cracking are effects due to variations in water content.

Cupping is different from warping and cracking; what happens is that the upper surface of the board becomes filled with water when it rains. The fibers on the surface become inflated. When the sun comes out and bakes the surface bone dry, the fibers all shrink back, but because a lot of fibers are now smaller, the surface shrinks back to a smaller size, bending the board into a cup. It bends because the other side of the board still has larger, uncompressed fibers.

Compared to UV, water does the most damage of the two, to wood. Contrary for finishes...
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Old 07-20-2008, 06:49 AM   #11
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I'd recommend sanding the entire deck and then reseal it. The deck is nearly a decade old and if you want to restore the deck (floor and handrails) to one consistent look, you really need to sand the entire thing and then seal it with a good watersealer.

Last edited by AtlanticWBConst.; 07-20-2008 at 01:05 PM. Reason: Site Rules Violation: Link Removed from Signature
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Old 07-20-2008, 09:39 AM   #12
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Not to just on this thread, but...............my deck is 23 years, pressure treated wood, old on the north side of house. It is built on the ground, no air underneath. I imagine all the previous posts apply but how do I keep the paint from peeling and mildew from growing in wonderful Wisconsin. Water based? Again sorry for the tromp!
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Old 07-20-2008, 11:10 AM   #13
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It depends a bit on what you mean by "on the ground"; if you mean that your deck is literally sitting on the ground, with the joists on the soil with no cement posts & no air circulation, then your wood is wicking moisture and nothing will stop it from preventing paint from peeling and/or mildew from forming and then preventing the paint from sticking.

But I don't think just Wisconsin is responsible for all that... . If on the other hand, it is sitting on some sort of footing, and there is minimal circulation of air underneath, then you have a location problem, in that you might not be getting enough light back there to dry it out sufficiently. But in this case, you could improve things by, eg: trimming the trees or hedges. But you will always be in for maintenance costs, no matter.

In the first case, trying to protect a deck sitting on the ground is pointless because of the constant humidity levels inside the wood. This situation is usually terminal.

You could tear it down and put footings, or a vapor barrier+gravel to improve things, and you'll get a few more years out of it, but that's all one can hope for...I'd just hate to see someone fall through it a break an ankle.
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Old 07-20-2008, 04:41 PM   #14
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Plastic over gravel and thanks for the reply. I will just leave it untreated as it has been since I used a Cabots semtransparent witrh poor results. Thanks Bruce
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Old 07-21-2008, 06:00 AM   #15
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Sounds like s solid plan to me...we pressure-wash ours every 2 yrs or so and treat it with a (acidic...the name of the particular acid escapes me) deck cleaner in between.

If you keep the pressure down around 1000psi and don't gouge the surface too much then it'll stay fine. The grey comes off - and if there's green algae, then a spray bottle of bleach 1:1 with water will clear that up in an hour or so.

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