Questions for first-time deck cleaning, staining

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Old 08-12-18, 06:19 PM
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Questions for first-time deck cleaning, staining

he house I bought has a deck that needs to be cleaned and stained. It's flat on the ground (no steps and no 'underneath') with no railings; it has a single bench. Note that I live in NJ.

Existing stains: grass stains, grayish-looking stains, some reddish-brown areas that look like the remnants of the previous stain or the wood. A renovation friend said he didn't think the wood needed replacing, despite some along-the-grain wood cracks and 2-3 small holes (he suggested using wood filler for the holes).

Questions:
1. Best deck cleaner for my stains? I saw a youtube video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Q1mrKbIuXU) where someone used Restore-a-deck (sodium percarbonate); is Restore-A-Deck the way to go?
2a. What type of stain (oil-based or water-based) and opacity (solid, semi-solid, semi-transparent) should I use, given the condition of my deck (see pics)?
2b. What's considered the 'best' stain? I've seen many opinions on olympic, behr, armstrong clark and twp, and it's difficult to determine.

Thanks,
Bill
 
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Last edited by PJmax; 08-12-18 at 07:35 PM. Reason: enlarged two pictures
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Old 08-12-18, 07:36 PM
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First, keep in mind that a ground level deck like that is going to age fast since there is no air circulation underneath. I would start saving my pennies for a patio to replace.

Now, to answer the questions you asked, I use a 50/50 bleach water mixture sprayed onto a wet deck and scrub that a bit and then rinse with clean water - I see no reason to buy a much more expensive deck cleaning product. You didn't give us your location but I would go with oil based in the north and latex in the south (UV tends to break down the oil based stains more quickly). Price is generally a good way to judge the quality of the product; personally, I don't see a quality name on your list and would look for a paint store instead of a paint department. Brands like Cabot, Sikkens, Flood and Benjamin Moore tend to be quality products. As to stain, the newer looking the wood, the less you need the stain to hide anything. Your wood does not look new to me so I would be looking at a solid body stain, which is my go-to for aged wood.
 
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Old 08-12-18, 07:37 PM
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I enlarged two of your pictures to better see the condition of the wood. It's pretty rough.
Not sure just cleaning it will be enough to restore it.

The painting pro will be by and offer his opinion.
 
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Old 08-13-18, 03:30 AM
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I'd also use a bleach/water solution to clean the deck, it's cheap and just as effective as the commercially prepared deck cleaners. I wet the deck, spray the cleaning solution on with a pump up garden sprayer, let it set but not dry and then rinse with a pressure washer. A garden hose can be substituted for the PWer. Some areas might require scrubbing with an old broom.

It's best to clean the deck before you decide what type of stain to use. On older worn decks it's often best to use a solid deck stain. IF your deck cleans up well and doesn't look too bad you might can use a semi-transparent stain. Since different stains handle different climates differently it would be wise to check around and see what works best in your locale.
 
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Old 08-13-18, 03:17 PM
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Ok - thx. Note that I said that I live in NJ (1st paragraph) so... the oil-based would be what I'd need.

I've read different thoughts on bleach (I assume that you're referring to chlorine bleach=sodium hypochlorite vs oxygen bleach=sodium percarbonate) with those on the 'anti chlorine bleach' side saying that it does well w/ mold and mildew but not as well with other stains and runs the risk of damaging the wood (breaks down the wood's organic polymers [lignin] that are, essentially, the 'glue' that holds the fibers together). I tried to find a test showing comparisons across different cleaners but couldn't. Restore-a-deck's cleaner (relatively expensive) uses sodium percarbonate; others online show how they've created their own sodium-percarbonate-based cleaner using fully generic sodium percarbonate and others using oxyclean. That may be an option, then.

There are some recommendations for using a brightener after the cleaner, both to neutralize (pH level) the cleaner and, among other things, to remove the graying in wood (restoring the color of the original wood). I saw a diy'er on youtube w/ his deck after cleaning (but before brightening) and - if we take the video as accurate - the asserted recommendations would hold up.

I've watched a # of youtube videos and read various sites for how-to on all of this but ... unbiased deck stain and cleaner comparison tests seem hard to come by. For stains, I'll look into your recs. I also checked Consumer Reports (CR) and their tests for solid (opacity) stains are (shown are the results of how well the stain/sealant held up after each of the milestones):
  1. Olympic Elite Advanced Stain+Sealant (1yr: excellent, 2yr: very good; 3yr (very good)
  2. Behr Deckplus Solid Color Waterproofing Wood Stain ((1yr - excellent, 2yr- very good, 3yr - very good)
  3. Benjamin Moore Arborcoat Solid Deck & Siding ((1yr - excellent, 2yr- very good, 3yr - good)
  4. Cabot Solid Acrylic Siding excellent (1yr - excellent, 2yr- excellent, 3yr- good)

It's easy to turn CR's reporting into a religious war so ... I'll take their recs into the overall mix.

I tried to find other sites for unbiased comparisons - thought that there was potential in deckstainhelp.com (DSH) but there's some feedback that suggests it's a shill for the products they're promoting. I checked the Name Servers and, although twpstain and restore-a-deck use the same, deckstainhelp.com doesn't. However, I'll keep a skeptical eye.

Bill
 
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Old 08-13-18, 03:26 PM
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Pure bleach left on the wood will damage the wood fibers so in that respect the commercial deck cleaners are more dummy proof. But a little bit of commonsense, wetting the deck first and not letting the bleach dry make it safe and effective. Often when cleaning with bleach a deck brightener isn't needed. When there is grime that the bleach isn't expected to be effective with I'll add TSP to the mix.

Usually the more the stain costs, the better it is.
 
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Old 08-13-18, 07:34 PM
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Thanks. The advice is making a great deal of sense. I'll be able to get to this in about 2 weeks so ...
 
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Old 08-13-18, 10:04 PM
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My deck sat unfinished for a couple years before I finally figured out the builder was not coming back to stain it. By then it was beyond grey to almost black in color. I went through the process I described once and it was significantly lighter. As bad a shape as it had been in, I decided to clean it one more time and after that the wood was uniformly blonde in color and looked fantastic after a coat of sealer (neighbors commented afterward that I had turned the ugliest deck in the neighborhood into the nicest looking).
 
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Old 08-21-18, 12:38 PM
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I don't miss that at all. We had our deck built in 2007 with composite. It is Veranda or similar. In other words, not top-of-the-line. But except for annual pressure washing, it has been zero maintenance. Sure, it costs more than wood. But not THAT much more considering what it gets you.

I built a 12'x16' free-standing deck for the Mrs this past spring using Trex Transcend. Paid out the whazoo for that stuff (close to $2000). But it is gorgeous. No more wooden decks for me. Life's too short.
 
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Old 08-24-18, 04:59 PM
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Man I wish we had those composite prices in Canada. Here a single 16' deck board if you go with a basic brand costs at the minimum 5 times more than wood! Posts and rail systems get even crazier from there. I only recommend that stuff to people where I live if they're planning to keep the house for 15+ years but who can predict that? This is our 3rd house in 20 years just because life changes.

I'm just wrapping up replacing all the surface boards and rails on 3 decks that cost me about $2500. I'm leaving this place in 5-10 years. I wouldn't even remotely come close to recouping the cost of this on resale if I went composite. It's not for everyone, especially at the price of it here. Unlike kitchen and bathroom renos where you can find deals - my kitchen for example from down to the wall studs and subfloor, was about $10k. About half of what it's worth because you're able to find lower cost suppliers aplenty around here - that's not the case with composite decking where we live. I truly envy you.

For what it's worth there are deals to be had if you choose to go with a stone patio instead. And those are the ultimate if you're looking for longevity and low maintenance. I know I'll be going that route next time I buy.
 
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