To treat or not to treat.....

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Old 09-26-14, 02:42 PM
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To treat or not to treat.....

I mentioned in the thread about real estate that we are selling our house. The deck is old, and yes, needs enough repair that it would very likely domino-effect into replacing about 90% of it. Our real estate agent has recommended against replacing it, it just won't get the money back (and it is a BIG deck, so very expensive to do).

What I've done so far is to clean it....just so it doesn't look like as much of an eye sore, a major scrubbing and it does look way better, but I have in no way (and have no intention to), hide the state of the deck. As much as we want to sell, we're not going to cover things up....I do have a conundrum now though. It is now completely unprotected wood. We're not likely to sell before the winter, so will be living here through that and more likely there will be lookers in the spring.

So....now, with unprotected wood, what do I do so it doesn't basically fall apart over the winter? Should I treat it? I was thinking a clear sealant, just so it doesn't look like we're trying to cover up that it needs some work....and because any stain, opaque or not, would probably soak into the wood kind of oddly I suspect and look like junk. I was looking at Thompson's Water Seal Advanced, but I've heard some pretty awful reviews. Thoughts and input? I'm looking at spending minimal cash on this, but don't want to waste money on something that will leave me with a mildew coated drenched cracking and disintegrating wooden deck, way worse than it is now....or will it be relatively ok over the winter (we have harsh winters here in NB though!).
 
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Old 09-26-14, 02:52 PM
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Generally speaking, a clear or semi-transparent sealer works best on good looking wood. As the wood ages, a solid body stain becomes the better choice and that's what I would recommend in this case.

Thompsons is not a product used at my house for anything.
 
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Old 09-26-14, 02:55 PM
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I agree, a solid deck stain would be best. The solid stain will hide some of the defects but mainly it will make it look like it's maintained.
 
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Old 09-26-14, 04:59 PM
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There are some REALLY nasty boards on there though. In particular it is the top of the railing....and if we replace that board, we're probably going to have to replace at least a couple of uprights because of the 5 or 6 nails AND screws that the previous owner put in to "secure" it, if we replace the uprights, we're probably going to have to do the same with some of the supports (most are good, but the ends again have been nailed like crazy and won't have anything left to nail into!). Nasty as in it was cupped, gathered water and rotted just about through, that has only happened to two of the boards on the top railing, but there are a couple of spots where the cross pieces of the railing are a mess too.
I've considered solid stain, but I'm worried about looking like we're trying to hide it, and the impression of the entire house that will give ("what else are they covering up"....which is nothing). Honestly, if it deteriorates more, the railing will be dangerous. However, I'm also worried about leaving it unprotected. I'll try to get a couple of pics of the nasty boards later on. There is NO question, the deck needs to be replaced. Even the sturdy boards just look horrendous, at least cleaned they're all "wood colored" rather than half deteriorating old stain from the previous owner. Actually, correction. They aren't all wood colored. The outside of the deck hasn't had a good cleaning because it is over our walk out basement and is a nightmare to get at....

Oh, and I should add, we've only had the house for 2 years....when we got it there was only expected to be a year or two left in the deck....we planned on doing it this year, but with putting it on the market (the chance to buy my grandparent's home....which we love), we decided not to. The market is bad though, and nothing is moving :P
 

Last edited by TheRings; 09-26-14 at 06:48 PM.
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Old 09-27-14, 05:21 AM
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I'd probably repair the worst of it and then apply a solid deck stain. IMO it's better for the house to look somewhat maintained than neglected. Leaving the deck as is might scare off some buyers. If the deck is somewhat presentable it might still look like it needs replacing but not immediately.
Look forward to seeing the pics
 
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Old 09-27-14, 06:11 PM
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I think you guys will see with these pics why I'm reluctant to go with a solid stain....These boards are nasty. I will say though, I'm showing the worst of them, and there are only two truly structural boards that need replacing (basically, it is safe, but not for long....)

This is cleaned the best I can get it (some of the stain refuses to come off...). Notice that lower piece of railing. No idea what the previous owner was thinking, other than the possibility that the top of the railing had rotted in that spot and that was his "fix". YUCK. Also, some of those cross pieces have cracks too...relatively solid, but UGLY.


Here is one of the awful top boards on the railing


This is some of the previous owner's handiwork (note the screws and the upright digging in, as well as the other board put in to presumably stabilize the top one).


And now the two structural boards that really do need replacing and, if the deck is stained, probably cause the questions regarding what else we might be hiding


I will say, all of the other structural boards for the floor of the deck are pretty darn good except where the railing attaches to them....where they've been nail-gunned to swiss cheese then weathered (which does make the railing slightly wobbly, but it isn't going anywhere in the near future).

Does it make sense why I'm reluctant to put a solid stain on it......it seems too obviously to be a "lipstick on a pig" effect. Oddly enough, potential buyers haven't had too much issue with the deck needing replaced (its priced accordingly). I just don't want it to fall apart now that I cleaned this year's mildew and dirt off of it (at least the "inside" of the deck....the outside still has the majority of its stain, and is VERY hard to reach). And again, I'm trying to do this as cheap as I can...we were advised to not replace the deck to keep it in the lower price range which is actually moving, plus we wouldn't get the money back out of it anyway....

Thoughts (other than thoughts of disgust at the state of the deck on our house....we got it cheap too!!).
 
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Old 09-28-14, 05:25 AM
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It's rough looking and some boards should be replaced but IMO the money spent on a solid deck stain [assuming you diy] would add value or at least make the house more marketable. I'd use a medium/dark colored stain as lighter colors might accentuate the bad areas. Thompson's WaterSeal has a short life [often 6-8 months] and does little to prevent greying or mildew. The more sun/rain it's exposed to the quicker it will fail. I don't know how it holds up to a lot of snow.
 
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Old 09-28-14, 01:29 PM
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Yeah, we DIY, problem is that one of the boards (the one underneath against the house), is a bit beyond our abilities to do in the time we have.....(plus hubby and I rarely have weekends off together, and its something I think would take both of us to do....). We've also looked at the tops of the railings that need to be replaced....we're looking at significant domino effect unless we do some serious McGuyvering. Perhaps if we go with the opaque stain we can find one that matches the old stuff that was on there (and some of which is still on the outer parts of the railing)...so it might minimize the prep work needed (even after stripping and scrubbing, some of it just wouldn't come off!!). We'd better check with our agent before we toss the stain on though...make sure there's no one interested that might be prone to want to show up while it is still wet!
Downside of our house, the least marketable thing, is the one thing that can not be changed....proximity to a fairly busy road (not hard to live with, but is a huge turn off for most).
 
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Old 09-29-14, 07:33 AM
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One final question when it comes to dealing with any deck treatment or staining.....I know it is recommended to do when there is no rain forecasted for a couple of days. How does dew affect things? Starting to get the sneaky feeling that this might have been left too late....there have already been frost warnings here and it is very dewey every morning....despite getting up to 15-20C around noon.

We're calling our agent tonight....and probably rely on her judgement when it comes to stain vs clear and how it might appeal to or turn off potential buyers. We are going to replace the really bad top railing board however, and deal with a couple of things I've spotted that are causing the railing to be wobbly.
 
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Old 09-29-14, 07:40 AM
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The wood needs to be dry before you apply any coating. If the dew lays on the stain after it's applied and before it's dry - it will affect the drying time and sometimes will affect the coloring of the stain. Frost over wet latex coatings can cause them to loose adhesion, it won't affect the adhesion of oil base coatings but can affect the sheen and will slow down the drying time.
 
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Old 09-29-14, 10:24 AM
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Good to know marksr.....we'll make sure to go with oil base. I'd rather have the sheen messed up and a longer drying time than a finish that doesn't adhere properly!!
Thanks for your help!!
 
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Old 09-29-14, 12:10 PM
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Just to be clear, you can't apply oil stain [or any coating] over frost. You want to make sure both the air temp and the substrate temp are at the minimum temp [or above] stated for the coating.
 
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Old 10-17-14, 04:38 PM
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I have a quick similar type question.
We just had our deck railings replaced. We are going to stain the railings in the Spring. The contractor has said to apply a cheap clear protector, like Thompsons, to protect the railings from splititting during the Winter. At our local paint store, we were asking about Stains, and they said to not treat the new railings, let they dry out and age over the Winter. Any thoughts as to what is best?
 
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Old 10-17-14, 06:49 PM
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Putting the clear protector on before the stain is a very bad idea. The steam will not go on evenly over the clear protector.
 
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Old 10-18-14, 06:06 AM
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We just had our deck railings replaced
What type of wood was used? PT wood needs to dry from the PT process before applying any stain/sealer. PT wood is prone to develop small cracks as it dries, applying TWS will not stop that.
 
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