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sk8z 05-29-2008 02:33 PM

Deck staining nightmare
I don't know where else to turn right now to vent, so i'll start here. I had a brand new PTP w/cedar trim deck put on my kitchen walk-out last fall. Just had it stained by a "powerwashing and deck staining" company. First off, they powerwashed it a few weeks ago and used way too high of a setting in my novice opinion. The wood fibers on the cedar railings were raised up and were peeling back in some areas. No problem the guy said when I called him...they would sand it all down nice and smooth before staining. Weather was finally adequate for staining and my wife called yesterday to say they had just arrived to stain it...this was around 3:00PM. They were done and gone by 5:30. Now this is a 20x14 second story deck with a staircase and landing halfway down to where it meets the patio...not huge, but certainly not tiny. Wow I thought as I was driving home, that was quick.

Now i'm no expert at this stuff, but the job I found when I got home was beyond piss poor. They obviously just sprayed and didn't backbrush as there were drips and weeping down almost all the vertical surfaces. Some of the heavier drips had left dark streaks down the vertical surfaces to a point where the stain collected in a bubble underneath the edge of the wood. Some of these bubbles had dripped off onto the concrete patio below. They also got some overspray on the vinyl siding. Some of these spots were not touched at all, other areas were wiped off, but it appears to have just spread a thin layer of stain across the siding. They did not stain underneath the 2x6 cedar top rails at all. This is a second story deck so seeing underneath these areas is easy from the ground. Also, I have the aluminum deckorator balusters that they didn't wrap before spraying, nor did they clean them afterwards. There's a layer of stain over them. Not visible unless you look closely, but you can certainly feel the texture difference from what they were. They also spilled a few small drops of stain in my driveway where their van was parked. Oh, and they did not sand anything prior to staining. :furious::furious::furious::furious:

So...I call them last night after seeing all this stuff and the guy (who is the owner/operator of the business) says "oh yea, don't worry...we'll clean all that up tomorrow". This after he tried to get my wife to pay him before I even saw it.

They (him and his worker) get out there today around noon my wife says. She goes over all the problems with him in person so he knows exactly what we're talking about. No problem, he'll get it all fixed he says.

I get a call on my cell at work from this guy at 1:40 this afternoon...he basically apologizes for the half-ass job he's done, and says he doesn't have the time to complete all the "touch ups" i'm complaining about. Something about he's so far behind on jobs right now that he'll lose out on $800 if he stays the whole day over my house. He says he won't charge me anything for labor and just wants to be paid for the cost of the stain...something like $150. He says he will finish all he can, but that there will be a few 'minor' things that will need to be 'touched up'. Whatever, i'm at work and don't have time to argue with this guy at this point and I let him go. After they leave (around 2:15), my wife takes a look at their handy work. She says she's not sure what they spent their 2 hours doing today, that everything looks the same as it did yesterday. Same drip marks, same streaks, same spots, same missed spots, everything. :censored::censored: She overheard him out the window complaining to his worker (I think shortly before he called me) saying something like "I don't have time for this...if they want all that stuff done they'll have to pay for it"...huh? Honestly, I don't think this guy ever worked around the aluminum balusters and didn't realize what a pain they are. I'm sure they started wiping them down and realized it was gonna take all day to clean them up. As for the other mistakes, I can't begin to fathom how a company that supposedly specializes in this stuff could do a job like that.

Sorry so long, but I had to vent. Not even sure what to do right now. How do I get this stuff off vinyl siding. It's an oil based stain...mineral spirits? How about the balusters? Concrete? Should I pay these clowns for the material? Should I consider sueing?

Jay123 05-29-2008 04:00 PM

I wouldn't think about an attorney (yet), usually it's the lawyers (and not their clients) who win in a lawsuit.

How much was the contract for and did it spell out about the sanding, clean-up, warranty etc?

Just going by what you have described (post some pics if you can) it doesn't sound like a very good job or like someone who knows what they were doing.:(


sirwired 05-29-2008 06:43 PM

What a clown. If he doesn't want to be doing cut-rate jobs, he shouldn't be submitting cut-rate bids.

Some observations here:
1) Most (but certainly not all) contracts specify something like "work will be done in a professional and workmanlike manner". It certainly sounds like this was not.
2) He could theoretically file a lien on your house and/or file with a collection agency for non-payment. If this happens, I would just cut my losses with the $150 payment and a good 'ol BBB complaint. (They won't fix anything, but it can act as a warning to others.) Unless you really enjoy fighting, it just wouldn't be worth it in my mind. You might eventually win, but the stress would be waaaayyyy more than the $150.
3) It sounds like this guy is such a pathetic operation there is no way you are going to get him to actually fix his mistakes and do the job the way it should be done. Does he even know how? I would think proper pressure washing would be the FIRST thing you would learn if you worked for a deck finishing business, much less ran one.
3) Unless he tries the legal stuff mentioned in 1), I wouldn't even pay the $150, assuming the contract specifies that the work would be done in a professional manner. You are going to have to buy more materials yourself to do the job right, so unless he legally goes after you, I see no reason to pay for the material he essentially wasted.
4) I see the chance of getting him to pay your expenses to have the job done right as approx. ZERO. However, if he has insurance, they may pay up under the liability coverage. But frankly, I doubt he has insurance either. Without insurance, the only way for you to get that money is to win in small claims, and then, if the option is available in your area, get the Sheriff to seize his truck, if we make the bold assumption it isn't mostly owned by the bank.
5) I actually don't think he'll go after you with a lien, but to file with a collection agency is approx. free.


sk8z 05-30-2008 08:35 AM

Update - I got home last night and checked out the 'fixes' myself. Things they did fix (I use that term loosely):

1) Sanded all hand rails smooth...although this obviously also lightened the stain in the areas where they sanded more than others. Now i've got smooth, but blotchy rails.

2) Removed most of the stain from the concrete. They missed a few small spots, but did get this up for the most part. It did leave the concrete really, really white in the areas they worked on which now sticks out badly. It's only concrete so whatever.

3) Removed some of the stain from the siding. They got the dark heavy drops off, but the stain 'haze' still remains from where they wiped and spread a thin layer of stain across large sections of the siding.

That's it...all the balusters are still caked with stain, the underside of all the top rails are still unstained, numerous spots between the aluminum balusters remains unstained (or vice-versa...caked on way heavier than the surrounding wood to the point where it has basically pooled and dried and is now shiny). There left numerous decent size pieces of used sandpaper scattered on the ground under the deck. They left a 3 person swing (which they moved off the patio into the yard to get it out of the way) in the middle of the yard. Oh - and I love this...they used my hose which is on the side of the house. No big deal, however they pulled out about 60 feet, dragged it through my landscaping (broken flowers), and just left it lying in the yard. :laughing: This is so bad it's comical.

Anywhooo...let this be a lesson...don't always go with the lowest bidder. I did not have a contract with this guy (maybe lesson #2). It was a pretty small job (according to him), and we just hashed out the details over the phone after he gave me his quote. Powerwash and stain...seemed pretty simple and he talked a good game like he knew his stuff. What amazes me is i've seen this guy's ads for years so I know he's been around for a while. His flyer says since 1985! You are right Sirwired - i'm sure this guy doesn't have insurance. I looked at the flyer he put his quote on and it does not say anything about being insured. Pretty sure the operation is just him and a helper. Probably not worth pursuing any sort of legal options, and I DO NOT want him back doing anymore of this handy work. Maybe my first clue should have been his not so masterful command of english. He's Mexican and sounds like he just crossed the border. My wife said his helper was even worse. I'm not racist, but this guy is certainly not helping the stereotype.

Anyway - anyone know the best way to remove oil based stain from vinyl siding, concrete, and aluminum balusters? Powerwash, mineral spirits, gasoline, etc? Should I put a 2nd coat of stain on the blotchy toprails, or will this make them too dark having a 2nd coat?

shasta37 06-06-2008 12:45 AM

Dude- If you can't cough up the time-off work to supervise a high dollar construction job... and assuming you had a job Specification and Scope of Work up front... and dumping all responsibility for end results on your Wife is, well...

Verbal's don't cut it. Cell phone supervision doesn't cut it.

'Bout the only recourse you have is a withold final payment until satisfication; assuming that's in the work ontract.

sk8z 06-06-2008 09:42 AM

Shasta - I know they're long, but did you actually read them? High dollar construction job? It's a simple stain of a deck. :laughing: About a $500 job, including materials. I should take time off work to supervise the staining of a deck (of which I have no experience myself anyway)? So whenever a homeowner contracts out work to be done they should take time off their job to supervise? that theory I should have taken three weeks off work last November while the company I hired built the deck. Makes sense. :huh: And what responsibility did I dump on the wife again? Having her look at the deck when i'm not home and call me is a responsibility? For your information my wife is always very involved in all our home projects by her choice. Besides, a) She works part-time so she was home anyway, and b) she's probably more of a pitbull than myself who i'm sure took great pleasure in ripping into them about their piss-poor work.

Thanks for the very helpful reply though :wink:

cniner 12-28-2009 09:34 AM

I hear these stories about the start up ALL the time a spend a lot of time fixing other companies poor stain jobs. A least he did not get over spray all over the vegetation because that is the only thing that can't be corrected. Give us a call and we can come out to correct the issues you have. We contract all work with out any deposit. We have cleaned all types of surfaces over the years. We HAND brush all products for these exact reasons.

lopek77 12-28-2009 10:47 AM

Complaining now about stains all over your property and bad quality job sounds funny. Seems to me like you have never read estimate ( you didn't see info about insurance ), you never talked to the guy before ( bad English complains ) ....

My father was always saying that he is too poor to buy cheap stuff.

Here is another truth about services :

good-cheap ain't fast
fast-cheap ain't good
good-fast ain't cheap

Another thing is that most Mexican owned "power washing" businesses are good with landscaping work but not with power washing. Power washing for them is an add on business only.

Would you hire electrician to do your plumbing work ?

Here is my movie showing some custumer DIY project which went wrong. I love doing everything by myself , but if I'm not sure of something - I'm calling a pro.

housepaintingny 12-28-2009 04:57 PM

With out a signed contract there is not much you can do, I wouldn't pay him, because with out a contract there isn't much he can do either. Any reputable contractor would not stain a deck this time of year no less do a job with out a written proposal (not on a flyer) followed by a written and signed contract. Lowest price isn't always the best, you need to know in writing exactly what your paying for and the value of the service your receiving. Always check references and ask to see proof of insurance, photos or videos of past jobs.

chrisn 12-28-2009 06:00 PM

You guys realize this post is 7 months old?

Scuba_Dave 12-28-2009 06:22 PM

Yeah, 2 people posting advertising links brought it back up
......must be the Christmas spirit that kept me from banning them

Kevin M. 12-28-2009 06:37 PM


Originally Posted by Scuba_Dave (Post 373202)
Yeah, 2 people posting advertising links brought it back up
......must be the Christmas spirit that kept me from banning them

HO!HO!HO! out you go......... :laughing:

lopek77 12-28-2009 09:07 PM


Originally Posted by Scuba_Dave (Post 373202)
Yeah, 2 people posting advertising links brought it back up
......must be the Christmas spirit that kept me from banning them

Happy New Year Dave !:thumbsup:

BTW .. I forgot to mention one thing .... I broke my back 4 months ago doing some diy project around my house ... 10 feet down from the roof ... ouch

BE CAREFUL !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Jay123 12-29-2009 02:34 PM


Originally Posted by chrisn (Post 373188)
You guys realize this post is 7 months old?

actually it's 19 months old...may...2008 :yes:

lopek77 12-29-2009 05:24 PM


Originally Posted by Jay123 (Post 373539)
actually it's 19 months old...may...2008 :yes:

It's a repeating problem anyway.
Happy new year everyone !:party:

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