Earlier this past week I was watching a video of a Contractor, talking about how excited they were about applying a solid deck stain to a deck in the backyard of one of their Clients’ homes.
They could not wait until they applied it to the deck surfaces (which had previously been bare), to sew together the paint job that they were in the process of completing on the rest of the home.
After the coating had been applied, the Contractor beamed with satisfaction as they truly felt that they had just accomplished something absolutely awesome for their Customer.
To the Contractor’s credit, they are not alone; I believe most Contractors fall into this same trap.
There is a dirty little secret about solid deck stains these days that the majority of Contractors are oblivious to and most Homeowners scratch their heads about after the fact.
The Dirty Little Secret?
Solid deck stains,
especially in New England,
typically do not last for more than 1 year.
In fact, any conversation about applying a solid deck stain to someone’s deck, should also be conducted in conjunction with a conversation about how reasonably long the application will last (realistically, 6-12 months before the solid stain starts to peel in some capacity) prior to needing a maintenance treatment.
It does not matter whether the Homeowner does the application or the most talented Painting Contractor on the planet does the application.
It does not matter whether it is an oil-oriented solid deck stain or a latex-oriented solid deck stain.
It does not matter if it is being applied to pressure treated wood, mahogany, or fir.
So if this is indeed the case, then why are solid deck stains positioned in the marketplace as long-lasting and why do many Contractors continue to recommend them on surfaces that do not already have a solid deck stain in place?
If the surface already has a solid deck stain in place, unless you plan on stripping the existing coatings off of the deck, you have no choice, it, unfortunately, makes the most sense that another solid deck stain system should be applied (with the expectation, again, that it will not last for more than 1 year until issues start to surface).
If you were to approach a deck application by traditional means (wash, scrape, sand as necessary, and two coats of finish), you are directly in-line to experience some type of failure with your coating system within a year after it is done.
If you harshly rough up the deck surfaces as part of the process – i.e. – by means of some type of abrasive/media blasting – you would have somewhat of a fighting chance at extending the life of the system sometime beyond the gloomy one year outlook.
Blasting is a bit of an intense process, but it does absolute wonders toward TRULY roughing up the surfaces and making them HIGHLY receptive to whatever type of coating system might be being applied to it.
This is hardly ever done however.
Blasting should never be performed unless executed by an experienced professional and it can be quite the investment.
One of the biggest reasons solid deck stains do not last, is the wood grain they are applied to is way too tight to properly receive the product.
Combined with how highly susceptible to moisture the deck surfaces are to begin with and you have the recipe for an absolute disaster waiting to happen.
When prepping the deck, professionals and homeowners alike tend to unintentionally make the wood grain even tighter by sanding through a process of traditional means (by hand, with a palm sander, belt sander, random orbital sander, etc.).
There could certainly be an unending diatribe coming from me as to why solid deck stains should not be utilized on deck surfaces in New England that have not had a solid stain previously applied to them.
My preference in these situations falls back on wood toning stains and possibly an occasional semi-transparent.
If you would like to have a more an in depth conversation about what I might recommend for your particular situation, please reach out to our office and they will be happy to set up some time for us to discuss things.
Deck coatings and getting them to last might just be the most challenging component of the exterior portions of our homes that at times receive some type of protective coating system.
Setting proper expectations and long term maintenance plans in place is key for their beauty and longevity, even if it may take a contrarian approach to achieving them.