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Friday, May 07, 2010

Advice from the Pros:

Deck Maintenance

Outdoor decks take a beating--from rain, freeze/thaw cycles, even wind-blown sand. But sunlight causes the most damage, since ultraviolet (UV) radiation initiates the photochemical degradation that kickstarts weathering. First, wood changes color, but soon fibers start to loosen from the surface and are eroded away by the elements. That's why every wood deck--even when built with decay-resistant or pressure-treated lumber--needs to be protected by a good finish that blocks UV rays and moisture and delays the natural weathering process.

Stained deck 

Protection begins with stripping off the old finish

Most deck stains--whether they are oil-based/alkyds or water-based acrylic/latex stains--only last about about a year or two (more for acrylics, less for alkyds). Since most homeowners refinish their decks every 3-4 years, by the time they get around to restaining, the wood has already started to deteriorate and simply renewing the alkyd finish can lead to problems later on. While it's common practice to restain a washed--but still weathered--deck with more alkyd stain, each subsequent coat offers less protection than the coat before because of cracks and checks in the wood. Adding more coats of transparent or semi-transparent alkyd stain will eventually build up a thicker film that will change the opacity and color of the finish; eventually, regardless of the original opacity of the stain, the film will start to break down too.

Because acrylic stains lay on the surface rather than penetrate, like alkyds, they tend to peel off, rather than break down. But with both acrylic and alkyd stains, it's best to strip off the original deck finish before applying a new one. Stripping afinish isn't that hard, especially using one of the many paint and stain strippers for decks. Most are just sprayed on, allowed to sit for 15 to 25 minutes, agitated with a brush or broom, and then washed off with a garden hose or power-washer. You do have to be careful when power washing, however, since chemical strippers can raise wood fibers, and a pressure washer with too small of a tip or one that's held closer than 12 to 18 inches away from the deck can quickly damage the wood.

It takes about two days of good drying weather after a deck has been power-washed before it's ready for staining. First, though, sand the deck lightly--a pole sander is perfect for this--to knock off loose fibers, which absorb stain and are weak points where the finish will break down more quickly.

If you're in a hurry, you can avoid the drying time by using a mechanical floor sander, such as the Onfloor Prep 16 floor sander (available at many Benjamin Moore retailers). These machines are easy to use since they can go in any direction rather than having to follow wood grain. Different attachments allow them to be used with different surfaces; for decks, the manufacturer offers nylon brushes impregnated with tungsten carbide steel. The nylon bristles can ride right over the top of cupped boards and popped nails, and do a great job of removing old weathered stains. Since these machines don't introduce any water during the stripping process, you can prep and finish a deck in one day.

Choose the right finish

Benjamin Moore makes a full line of traditional latex and alkyd stains in a number of different opacities, but if you have a new, unfinished deck or are refinishing and starting with bare wood, the best choice is one of our new Arborcoat stains, which are more durable than the best alkyd stains. Based on Benjamin Moore's low-VOC Gennex waterborne technology, Arborcoat transparent and semi-transparent stains are a blend of water-dispersible alkyds (for penetration into the wood) and acrylic resins (for UV protection). There are also semi-solid (available in 75 colors) and solid (available in any color) Arborcoat 100% acrylic stains; like all Arborcoat products, these stains can also be used for siding.

Opaque deck stain 

A key component in the Arborcoat lineup is the Protective Clear Coat, a topcoat designed to be applied over transparent and semi-transparent deck stains (optional on siding or over the semi-solid stain). The low-lustre Clear Coat topcoat adds another protective layer against scuffing and UV damage, extending the life of the finish without affecting its opacity. With this added protection, the deck can be refreshed annually with Clear Coat as the finish starts to wear, allowing you to avoid the stripping and refinishing process altogether.

The best way to apply any stain--but critical for Arborcoat--is to roll it on with a 3/8-inch nap roller, 3 boards at a time, followed by backbrushing. The backbrushing pushes the finish into wood and evens the finish out. This is a quick method with any deck stain, but with quick-drying Arborcoat, you can apply the top Clear Coat within 1 to 3 hours, usually by the time you've finished the stain. With Arborcoat, you can refinish the deck one day, and use it the next.


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Wood decks are beautiful, but that beauty comes with a price, and that’s more regulated maintenance. Of course, different flooring types have different needs. It is imperative to meet them all to have good standards.

Nice blog dude! Do you mind if we quote/reference you sometime? We'll be re-blogging wood floor restoration info fairly regularly. However I really like your choice of staining which gave a whole new look to the deck and I know it’s not easy to do it evenly on such a huge deck.

Thank you paint gurus for such a wonderful tip on deck maintenance! I've been reading through articles and blogs about DIY home tips like these. You're right about wood decks. If you have one in your home, you will definitely notice that it's the part of your house that takes the most punishment from weather, and dirt. I'll share these tips with my friends, and maybe we can do a little bit of cleaning up soon. I wonder if this is going to take long. We take a lot of time cleaning our carpets and our wooden floor. What more if it's a deck that has been punished by Mother Nature?

Anyway, thanks again for the tips. I wouldn't know what to do without these!

-Ailith Blesington

It is very true that having wood terrace or balcony without roof can cause the wood change into another color because of light coming from the sun or it might also from the rain. That color means that it is slowly making the wood harm or it is not a good looking afterwards. Before using finishing it’s good to apply both the acrylic and alkyd stains. It is also good to use high pressure cleaning for wood for washing time.

Pressure clean your deck, removing mold and mildew and lift failed stains and sealer.
A finish coating must contain pigment in order to block, absorb or reflect damaging UV rays. Coating pigment protects your deck's surface much like sunblock lotion protects your skin: both prevent the top surface layer from drying out and aging prematurely.

Owners often try to decide whether to replace your driveway with asphalt or concrete. It is not always an easy decision, especially if we consider the Concrete driveway cost that is involved in a renovation project of great size.

Please send your contact information and best time a Product Information Representative can reach you, to Info@benjaminmoore.com

Deck is exposed to the changing of the weather so it is likely to get rot in a small period of time especially if it is made of wood. Thanks for this post. Very informative.

For all my charges, the day flew by and no one wanted to go back to class. They wanted to stay and finish the job. To me that is the best lesson that I can give them and showed me that sometimes the best job in the garden sometimes doesn’t include plants.

After a pressure treated deck has been coated several times and exposed to the elements for 24 years, it may be time to consider replacing at least any of the severely weathered or decayed decking material.

If, on the other hand, after a thorough inspection, it is determined that the the wood is still in good shape, you might consider having all of the previous coatings removed back down to a good surface, exposing fresh wood which could then be stained with a transparent or semi-transparent deck stain.

Transform worn decking with the OnFloor16™ and Benjamin Moore products. Designed for both residential and commercial use, the OnFloor16™ helps you achieve the look you want in a quick, easy, and cost-effective way, and offers an application-ready substrate every time.

The OnFloor16 Multipurpose Surface Preparation Machine is more than just a sander, Onfloor 16™ helps bring new life to concrete surfaces, decks and hardwood floors.

High levels of moisture within the substrate could cause blistering as the moisture tries to escape from beneath the paint film. I would recommend a drying period of at least two days before applying any product. Also, the substrate should have a moisture content of 15% or lower.

I have a pressure treated deck which was built in 1986 and painted every few years with a gray solid deck stain. I was thinking it would be nice to use a a semi-transparent stain in a natural wood color, so I contacted a deck refinishing company but was told that the wood was too old and any non-solid stain would turn out blotchy. Is this true? The wood is in very good shape despite its age. Thanks.

I stained my deck with an Arborcoat solid stain after cleaning and prepping....it bubbles up in some spots, mostly when hit with the intense sun at my altitude of 10000'. Any suggestions? I'm afraid to use the stain anywhere else at this point.

Please respond to Frank DeRobertis post on 7/11/10, I'm looking to purchase "Fresh Brew" which is very similar to "Bison Brown" but have been holding off waiting for your response. It seems like you are avoiding a response, all others have been addressed in a timely fashion. Has someone been on vacation or does a problem exist in the product? Please advise.

I pruchased 10 gallons of semi-trans Arborcoat stain (Bison Brown). I am testing it on spare wood (new deck) sanded. I applied the stain uinsg a BM brush but it comes out with a purple tint, no where near the color on the sample chip. I found that if I apply useing a brush and then wipe it down with a rag, the color comes out perfect i.e. more brown than purple. This would be very difficult to do especially in the corners and other nooks and crannys where a rag could not reach. Please note I need to do the deck posts, spindles, staris, joists etc. so the color of the deck is the same under, over and around the deck. What other approach could I use? A roller than backbrush? A staining pad instead of the brush? Use a staining pad for the entire deck? Please adivse as we do not want a purple deck.

Hi Donna, when was the last time your home was stained? stain colors will always be affected by the color of the wood. You may want to consider using a Semi-Solid Stain which has more pigment in it and will mask some of the color of the wood.

We have cedar log siding and having been staining it with a semi stain in a cedar shade. We would like to go with more of a brown stain. The cedar shades have so much orange in it. Not having much luck, when u get paint samples , they look diffrent on cedar. HELP!

Unfortunately once a stain has been applied and thoroughly dried; there isn't much that can be done to alter the color. Alkyd-based stains need to penetrate the wood substrate therefore anything applied over your current layer of stain would just sit on the surface and fail in a short amount of time. If you would like to speak with one of Product Information representatives, please email your contact information as well as the best time to reach you to benmoore@benjaminmoore.com

Who can I call for advice on "toning down" or changing color of Alkyd semi-solid BM stain, that came through more Rosa/pink than I wanted, without going through the entire stripping process, or making it too dark. Live in New England so Solid Stain isn't an option. Thanks.

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