Lazy/Cheap Method to Make a Deck Look Good for 2 Years

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Old 06-09-15, 08:41 AM
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Lazy/Cheap Method to Make a Deck Look Good for 2 Years

I've got a deck where the main space is on the 2nd floor (just to add to the misery) next to a big tree (more fun - the previous owners liked to plant stuff close to the structures). It's about 14x14' (eyeballing it) or so, with about 12 steps down to the ground.

The deck is probably about 15 years old. Just getting to the point where I'm having to screw down some boards where nails have outlived their usefulness. No splintering yet...

I stained the horizontal surfaces with very poor prep and the cheapest semi-transparent stain I could find that just about matched the original color about 4 years ago -- this is my first house, so I didn't know much about taking care of a deck and still don't. It looked good for about 18 months. No idea if this stuff waterproofed or not, I'm guessing if it did, it wasn't for long.

Right now, there are areas with no stain, areas with some stain... the spindles still look pretty good, but that's about it. It's got something of a rustic look that actually looks decent sometimes, but bad other times.

We plan to move in about 18-24 months, so beyond that.. I couldn't care less. I've thought briefly about getting some of the solid solutions, but have read horror stories.. this would also mean I'd have to do the entire deck.. whereas with the semi-transparent, if I get close enough to the existing color.. I can probably skip by on not having to get the ladder out and also doing the spindles.

Anyone have thoughts on a partial refurb, cheap / half-ass solution that'll last 2 years?
 
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Old 06-09-15, 09:47 AM
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2 things go into having a decent deck coating job; proper prep and quality stain.

It doesn't cost much to clean the deck. I'll mix up a bleach/water solution [never stronger than 50%!] spray it on with a pump up garden sprayer, let it set but not dry and rinse with a pressure washer. A water hose will also work. Stubborn areas might need a 2nd treatment and/or scrubbing with an old broom.

I've done a lot of decks where the decking was stained one color and the railing another. Looks good as long as the colors compliment each other. If you post a pic or two of your deck we can help with advice more tailored to your deck. http://www.doityourself.com/forum/el...your-post.html
 
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Old 06-09-15, 10:15 AM
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I don't quite understand the reasoning behind doing a lazy, cheap deck treatment. A logical person wouldn't want a sloppy deck job to cost him time and money in the long term--either by causing the property to not sell quickly when the time comes, or resulting in a big (several thousand $$$) reduction in offering price because of all the work needed to properly restore a deck after the sale.
 
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Old 06-09-15, 10:25 AM
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Lacking the tools and time is a big issue... and also not knowing exactly how to go about it.

If I don't need the fancy stripper.. great. If I can use a deck brush instead of a power washer, great. If there's a way I can get something on after I clean the surface dirt off, wonderful.

There seems to be no general consensus on the type of stain or brand being good or bad. One site says Behr works, another site says it sucks. Some people praise the solid stains for old decks, some don't. Some say do the spindles in solid.. and everything else in semi-transparent. It is analysis/paralysis. If what do I leaves me in a position where I need to turn around and do it again in 2 years, I may as well take the easy road.
 
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Old 06-09-15, 10:34 AM
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Except for brush/roller you don't have to buy any tools. If you don't have a pump up garden sprayer and don't wish to purchase one you could mop/brush the cleaner on the deck. While a pressure washer is quicker/easier, a water hose will do a good job ..... with no danger of damaging the deck from too much pressure.

Like a lot of things, the price of the deck coating is relative to it's quality. I know some aren't fond of solid stains but I've applied a lot of it with good lasting results. A cheap deck stain or any siding stain used on a deck will have a short life. Poor prep or application can result in a reduced life of the stain. I generally use/recommend a toner or semi-transparent stain for new decks and switching to a solid deck stain when the deck has reached the latter portion of it's life.

BridgeMan makes a good point, there isn't a big cost difference between a cheap stain job and one done correctly. The extra life from proper prep and quality stain more than pays for itself down the road. You don't save any time or money if you have to redo the job sooner! The better your place looks when it's time to sell, the quicker it is apt to sell and will likely command a higher price.
 
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Old 06-09-15, 10:46 AM
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Thanks mark.

I'm going to try to remember to post a picture later.

Also, if its important, the deck only sees sun in the AM.. maybe until 1 PM at the latest during certain seasons. Helps to save the color, but not necessarily to dry it out after it rains.
 
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Old 06-09-15, 10:52 AM
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Morning sun is more important as it helps to dry off the dew and ward off mildew. Personally I prefer a shady deck ..... but maybe I spent too many years working in the hot sun!
 
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Old 06-09-15, 01:09 PM
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On a deck as old as yours, I'd be thinking about switching to a solid body stain.
 
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Old 06-09-15, 04:40 PM
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Pics...

As you can see it is a mix of old stain, older stain, mildew, dirt...

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I am not sure why the pictures are rotated 90 degrees...

The crack in Photo 2 I am mildly concerned about and the worst one I see.
 
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Old 06-10-15, 04:05 AM
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I'd clean the deck and reevaluate it. If it cleans up decent you can still get a nice job with semi-transparent deck stain, if not, switch to solid deck stain. Don't worry about the cracks in the wood as it is very common for PT pine to do that. That crack may have been there since a month or so after the deck was built.
 
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Old 06-12-15, 09:07 AM
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In the past, I've used Thompson's deck cleaner, and always suspected it was 0.49 worth of bleach and water in an 18.99 can...

I've seen a bunch of miracle-cleaning solutions advertised lately... Is anything really better than bleach, water, and a deck brush?
 
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Old 06-12-15, 09:22 AM
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Prep work is not really my forte. I'm a grip it and rip it kind of guy. When you combine that with the fact that this is 90% prep work and involves being neat, plus its an elevated deck and I have no power washer and no experience with one.. I think I'm better off going to a pro for this.

I talked to a local guy and this is basically what he does. He recommends pressure wash, sanding the horizontal surfaces and 2 coats of solid stain. He thinks the deck is beyond the point where semi-transparent is going to look reasonable.

He quoted me about $425 with materials.
 
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Old 06-12-15, 11:31 AM
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is anything really better than bleach, water, and a deck brush?
Not really, sometimes it's beneficial to add TSP to the mix. The commercially prepared solutions are probably a little more diy and environment friendly but they don't work any better and sometimes not as well.

that this is 90% prep work and involves being neat, plus its an elevated deck and I have no power washer and no experience with one

While a pressure washer makes the job easier just as good a job can be done with a water hose - just takes longer. It's always better to rely on the cleaning solution rather than the pressure to do the cleaning!

He recommends pressure wash, sanding the horizontal surfaces and 2 coats of solid stain. He thinks the deck is beyond the point where semi-transparent is going to look reasonable.
Sounds like a plan although I usually reserve judgement on which deck stain is best until after I've cleaned the deck. I would have said depending on how it looks after it's cleaned we might can use semi-transparent, if it doesn't clean well enough - use solid.
 
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Old 06-12-15, 12:08 PM
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TSP= Trisodium phosphate?

Can you buy that on its own? Or do I need to know a guy who knows a guy?
 
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Old 06-12-15, 12:15 PM
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correct, TSP = tri sodium phosphate

You should be able to purchase it at most any paint or hardware store.
 
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