27 posts categorized "Advice from the Pros"

Wednesday, October 05, 2011



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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Deck Maintenance

Once your deck is finished and is starting to be exposed to the elements, there are several things you should be on the look out to ensure the wood continues to be properly protected. It's always a good idea to check for protruding nails and loose boards regularly. Over time you may see sap that has crystallized, commonly around knots in the wood--it can easily be removed by scraping or with a little turpentine. Try to keep the deck swept clear of leaves, which when they get wet could stain the deck surface. Before winter, remove items like potted plants and metal patio furniture to help prevent staining.

Generally, try to prevent rain from standing on the deck surface for long periods, which can lead to mildew and will compromise the finish over time. If you notice water sitting on the surface several days after it has rained, brush it off with a broom. If you live in an area that receives a lot of snow, use a plastic shovel or stiff push broom to clear the snow off the deck while it's freshly fallen.

Even if the finish is still in good shape and protecting the wood, clean your deck every year with a mild solution of Benjamin Moore's “Clean,” or a non-abrasive cleaner, to remove any dirt or mildew.


If you have used the Arborcoat system (stain followed by the clear coat), check to see if the clear coat is still intact or another coat needs to be applied. Depending on the exposure, the clear coat may need to be applied every 1-2 years to keep your stain intact and deck surfaces protected. Every 6 to 12 months make it a habit to look for places where the stain may have been worn or damaged--commonly under chairs and on steps. These areas need to be touched up so moisture cannot get under the film. 


The top half of the picture shows water pooling on the surface, indicating an area
that needs to be refinished. The bottom half illustrates water beading on the surface,
indicating wood that is still protected.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Applying Stain to Your Deck


Now that your deck is clean, dry, and maybe even stripped, it's ready to accept stain.

Pro Tip: Allow any dew that may have accumulated overnight to evaporate before staining. Moisture content of the wood should be below 15%. Your retailer may rent or sell moisture meters.

To achieve the most even covering, tackle the entire floor surface at one time or on the same day. Start at the side next to the house and apply the finish to a full length of two or three boards (at most) at a time, evenly and without stopping to prevent lap marks (i.e., going over an area that has already been coated and building up color unevenly). Most stains can be applied by brush, roller, pad or spray. Spray and roller application is the most effective method but it must be followed by back brushing. This works best with two people, one rolling and one back brushing. If you're staining spindles and railings, do it prior to staining the deck--and be sure to protect the deck with a drop cloth.

Pro Tip: Avoid working in direct sunlight--the heat of strong sun force dries your finish too quickly and prevents it from penetrating properly. You can also use Benjamin Moore 518 Extender to slow down the process and give you a little more working time.

With Arborcoat Translucent, Transparent and Semi Transparent you can start using and enjoying your deck the next day. For semi-solid and solid stains, allow the deck to dry for 48 hours before putting furniture and other items back, and before allowing heavy foot traffic (weather permitting--high humidity means longer drying times). Then stand back to admire your hard work. The good news is if you've done it right and taken the time to prepare and stain correctly you'll enjoy your deck for years. 

Don't forget that all decks require maintenance, which we'll talk about in our next blog.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Stain Selection


In our previous blog we gave you the basic information on how to prepare you deck before staining. Now it's time to decide what type of stain you're going to apply.

Let's start with the basics. You can choose from typical alkyd- or latex-based stains or the new Arborcoat line of stains. Next, decide on the opacity of the finish  before making the all-important color decision.

For years, most decks were stained with a transparent or semi-transparent alkyd stain. Despite having to clean up with solvent, these were good options for the times: they were relatively easy to apply and offered good durability. But because of new regulations, the formulas have changed and alkyds are no longer the product of choice. There are latex alternatives available which offer easy application and have very good durability and color retention, but they simply don't have the penetration properties of alkyds. A far better option is Arborcoat, which uses a waterborne alkyd and an acrylic resin. The result is penetration properties of an alkyd with the durability of an acrylic--the best of both worlds.

Arborcoat comes in translucent, transparent and semi-transparent finishes. Opacity is both a personal and performance preference. Many people like the look of a translucent, transparent or semi-transparent stains. These finishes allow most of the grain of the wood to show through. Although the appearance is appealing these products contain only small amounts of pigment so they offer less protection from UV rays. Arborcoat offers greater durability with its 636 Clear Protective Coat, which must be applied over the Arborcoat 637 Transparent or 638 Semi Transparent stain. Arborcoat 639 Semi Solid and 640 Solid stains will mask some or all the grain but allow the texture to show through. These two finishes offer the best protection for you deck. 

Now the hardest decision--what color to choose? Except for solid finishes, stains allow some of the natural wood color to show through so the final color may look different on each deck, depending on the type of wood, how old it is, and how you have prepared the surface (did you only need wash it, or did you sand it?).

Here is a brief overview of color selection in each finish:
Arborcoat Translucent: 6 Ready mixed Colors
Arborcoat Transparent: 6 Ready mixed colors
Arborcoat Semi Transparent: 72 Custom Colors
Arborcoat Semi Solid: 72 Custom Colors
Arborcoat Solid: Unlimited Colors

To help you with this decision, pint samples of all these products are available through your local retailer. Test them in an inconspicuous area on your deck to make sure you like the color result. If you don't like the look, sand off the color and test another shade.