Deck Staining

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Posted by: from Orleans
8/20/2012 at 9:45:48 PM

We last stained our deck 5 years ago, and about 30% of the stain is still intact, particularly on the vertical parts. On the rest, is it necessary to pressure wash every bit of the previous stain. I agree, it might look patchy if we don't, but my question is from durability and point of view.

On the parts that the previous stain has held, is it not better to let it be? Also, what is the best quality and type of stain to use, and how many days of sunshine do we need before I stain it back?

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Date/Time8/20/2012 at 11:29:53 PM

Hi Sriyani:

Decks are a paint stores nightmare! I know, for I was involved in a specialty paint store for 10 years.

Most people figure that paint or stain should last forever. However, wood and concrete wear down as well.

Most people are not instructed as to the prep and how to stain a deck. If your deck has inadaquate ventillation under it (too close to the ground or extreme foliage to prevent air flow) the probability of it failing is high. Stain is exactly what it says! It must penetrate the wood fibres of the planking and be allowed to cure naturally and slowly. Some "paint experts" say to put it on when the sun is on it so it will dry faster. WRONG!!! Put is on when it is cooler and allow it to penetrate. Most likely use a semitransparent, or if a solid stain is preferred, thin it out at least 30 % with paint thinner. It is now thin enough to penetrate. Use an oil base stain if available.. If not, thin with water.

If your deck is close to ground level and you have the boards close together, the ground moisture, heated by the sun, condenses on the bottom of the deck, is drawn through it, and will peel off anything that is in its way. Moisture does not go down. The sun and warmth draw it up.

The fact that you could pressure wash off the stain shows that there was little or no adhesion of the binding agent component in the stain. Stain, like paint, is made up of many different components, binding agents being a primary component. Obviously, the stain that you applied set up too fast, making it impossible for the binding agents to cure and attatch themselves properly.

Important: Do not stain in the direct sunlight, making sure that the decking is as cool as possible. 2. if the deck is close to ground level and the boards are very close together, it will vertually be impossible for stain to adhere properly. 3. apply more than one coat of stain. remember that you are "walking" on a product that is less than the thickness of a hair.

I used to sell CIL aka Dulux premium stains. You do not necessarily need a deck stain. You just have to work properly with the product. Clean the deck with TSP and an additive of bleach. Rinse well and let dry thoroughly. Soap leaves a residue that affects adhesion.

If the deck has planed or smooth planks, rough it up with a heavy grit sandpaper.

Good Luck. Decks can be a nightmare!


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Dave from 360renos in Navan
Date/Time8/21/2012 at 7:07:49 AM

Good morning Sriyani,

No you don't have to pressure wash off the stain. Leave it as it is properly adhered.

I usually only pressure wash to remove dirt and it is a very light pressure wash at that. Most times pressure washing is not necessary.

Then sand with an orbital sander to open the grain of the deck boards so that the stain can soak in better. Sanding also smooths out the edges of the remaining stain.

Three days of no rain will ensure your deck is dry

Most decks stains are one coat and as Chuck mentioned do not apply it in direct sunlight if at all possible. A lot of stains are now water based due to VOC regulations and the water based stains are a little bit more difficult to work with.

I've re-stained one customers deck a few times over the years where all the old stain does not come up and the richness is absolutely beautiful as you can see in the picture.

Check with your local specialty paint store for color samples and help in selecting the right product.



Deck Staining
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Date/Time8/21/2012 at 7:46:33 AM

I'm not going to repeat everything Chuck said, but I do want to concur.

I have a current customer who is having a nightmare with his deck surface. He has admited to trying paint, varnish, stain. It is a real mess. I think the culprit has been the heat and sun. Due to the age of the deck, I've decided to replace just the decking.

I'll take all of Chuck's advice to heart.

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David from Chetco Homes in Fort Erie
Date/Time8/22/2012 at 10:05:02 AM

You should get as much as you can off . Just because it has not come off yet it still is old and has lost it's holding over 5 years. I would say take it all off. Make sure you give it a good few days to dry before applying new stain. Sickens stain is the best to use.

Good Luck


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Terry in Stouffville
Date/Time3/17/2013 at 3:00:41 PM

1. The protective qualities in stain break down long before the aesthetics do so that 30% will have mildew beneath it. REMOVE IT!

2. Pressure washing helps to make the sanding process easier. Pressure washing is a removal tool not a finishing tool so don't fall in to the "splash and dash" trap....sand your wood.

3. As homeowners with wooden structures in our back yards we usually rely on waiting for deficiencies then act upon them which is too late and everything needs to be removed or we put ourselves on a schedule "every two years I'm going to do this deck". The problem with this is Mother Nature doesn't understand schedules.

More to come....

Deck Staining

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