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4 posts from August 2011

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Advice from the Pros:

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

Advice from the Pros:

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

Advice from the Pros:

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.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Advice from the Pros:

Prepping Your Deck for Stain


Whether your deck is made of pressure-treated lumber, cedar, redwood, or teak, everything from the sun's UV rays to rain and snow to simple everyday use creates wear and tear on the surface. Sooner or later it'll need refinishing. Telltale signs that your deck needs a bit more attention than just a good scrubbing are: peeling; when water no longer beads on the surface; grey wood (an indication of dead wood fibers); and splintering (the wood is drying out).

As with almost any paint job, expect to spend most of your time prepping: A good strategy is to devote one weekend to cleaning and prepping, and the following weekend to applying the finish. No matter what the situation, time spent properly at this stage means the final finish will last longer and application will be quicker and easier. 

Pro Tip: The best time to refinish a deck is in mid-to-late spring, early summer or early fall, when the surface temperature of the deck is above 50°F, but below 90°F, and when the humidity level is low to average. (If you can't put your hand on the deck and leave it there without getting uncomfortable then it's too hot.) Best times to work are in the late morning or late afternoon, when the surface is not in direct sunlight.

How you prepare the deck is determined by its current condition and what kind of stain (clear, semi-transparent, semi-solid, or solid) you decide to use. You most likely have one of three kinds of existing decks: one that's a few years old and has never been coated; one that's been stained with a semi-transparent stain and is in good condition; and a deck that's at least three years old and has been stained multiple times with a semi-transparent stain. Here are the basics for dealing with each of these situations:

First, remove all furniture, planters, toys, and grills from the area. Sweep off any debris, and then check for raised or "popped" nails. These should be either counter sunk or removed with the claw end of a hammer and replaced with galvanized deck screws. Never stain over damaged or rotted wood. All bad boards should be replaced before surface preparation.

Unfinished Decks
If your deck has never been stained, UV rays from the sun will have broken down the wood fibers. Cleaning and renewing the surface can be accomplished with Benjamin Moore 316 Restore. It is designed to remove dead surface fiber and any dirt and contamination. Follow this with an application of Benjamin Moore 317 Brighten to neutralize the Restorer and bring the wood back to its original color tone. Once the surface has dried, sand with a belt sander to remove any raised or loose fibers. At this point, you can apply any of the Arborcoat products from Translucent to Solid stain.

Pro Tip: Follow the label instruction for all prep products, all of which can be applied with a standard garden pump sprayer.

Previously Stained Decks in Good Condition
If your deck has a semi-transparent finish and is in sound condition (not peeling, worn areas to bare wood, badly weathered etc.), clean it with Benjamin Moore 318 Cleaner to remove dirt, contaminations and mildew. After the deck has dried, sand lightly with 80 grit sandpaper. At this point, you can apply Arborcoat 623 Translucent, 639 Semi Solid or Solid Stains. If your finish choice is the Arborcoat 637 Transparent or 638 Semi Transparent two-coat deck system, the deck will have to be stripped of all previous stain.

Pro Tip: Mineral spirits on a soft rag will remove stains caused by tree sap.



Neglected Decks
If your deck is older and has multiple coats of stain, it must be stripped to a sound surface. Your have two options for this task. You can sand the deck with a mechanical sander like the OnFloor Prep 16 machine (available at your local Benjamin Moore Retailer), or use an orbital sander available at your local rental store. This is a good alternative but will limit your preparation to the horizontal deck surface; railings, spindles and steps will have to be done with a hand held sander. The other option is chemical stripping. This is a very effective preparation method but you have to wait for the deck to dry before you can stain it (normally several hours or overnight). Use Benjamin Moore 315 Remove to eliminate the old coatings. Follow that with an application of 317 Brighten, which neutralizes the Remove and brightens the wood to its original color. Once dried, the surface should be lightly sanded with 80 grit sandpaper before its ready to accept any of the Arborcoat deck coatings.

Pro tip: When using chemical strippers or cleaners, thoroughly water all vegetation around the area in advance and protect plants with a tarp.

Next time, we'll fill you in on how to choose and apply the right stain or paint.