Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Decks and Porch Flooring

Keeping decks well protected is a big challenge. The wood is in a horizontal position, full of nail holes allowing water to seep into the wood where it will swell, shrink, and warp the wood and stress your stain or coating system. Wood that is inaccessible, such as end grain, can't be properly sealed once the deck is already constructed. Most times, furniture scrapes the surface, people and dogs track grit and mud on it, and Mother Nature takes a toll. The following discussion explains reasons we must consider sanding wood for best results with any stain or finish when wood has been allowed to weather in the elements, or if a previously applied coating has failed. Many times, it is highly beneficial to sand even new wood for a variety of reasons.


Many products available have their own distinct appearance, performance, and application characteristics. The premium wood coatings discussed below are all proven solutions we choose for various specific conditions. Trans Oxide pigments provide the highest level of ultraviolet resistance, and impart a very natural look to the wood. Most of the coating choices outlined below utilize this premium pigment type.

Natural FinishA product we discovered in recent years is One TIME Wood Protector. It is uniquely long-lasting, and is very natural looking compared to many stains available. We believe solvent free One TIME Wood Protector is good choice with respect to environmental issues and ease of maintenance. This is a great choice for docks and severe exposure. It offers beautiful protection with extended easy maintenance procedures. A most unique characteristic and great feature of One TIME is that it is virtually impossible to get lap marks or drip marks due to the unique way the product works on wood. We have coated 1/2 way across a board one day, then coated the second half the next day, and amazingly -NO LAP MARKS. I do not recommend coating this way, but it certainly demonstrates the solution to a problem with most other deck care products.

Satin FinishIf you desire a furniture-like shiny finish, and ventilation is good, and the deck is at least two feet off the ground, and boards can be sealed on the underside, you could consider a thicker film-forming coating like Sikkens Dek Finish . This is a two coat brush applied alkyd protective translucent finish system for exterior wood decking. On properly prepared wood surfaces (sanded and undercoated) this coating gives practically a look of furniture, imparting a varnish like shine while beautifully accentuating grain and color of the wood. This system requires a maintenance coat about every 3 years if in full sun. You need to have the pores of the wood grain open for proper anchoring of the sealer. The first coat preparation is the most important factor in longevity of the entire coating system. This product is suitable if the bottom side of the deck is sealed, and is at least 2 feet off the ground.

For a water-based Satin finish consider Structures Nature One. Structures is a great alternative to oil based varnishes, it looks and performs great, and is environmentally friendly.

If the decking wood is 2 feet or less off the ground, you should consider only a non-film forming wood sealer like One Time. Maintenance for color rejuvenation is generally around 4-5 years, but wood is well protected for several years.

Hardwood DeckingOne TIME is a great solvent free protector offering long lasting protection on hardwood decks. The UV cure is a great feature, since new exotic hardwood exhibits a high oil content which can sometimes interfere with drying and curing of many coatings.(See Video One TIME for Hardwood).

Read more:
Staining Ipe, Mahogany, and other Exotic Hardwood Decks

Porch Flooring
Porch floors are sometimes difficult surfaces to protect, as the softer a coating is, the easier it wears off, but the better it tolerates moisture transfer and wood expansion cycles. Conversely, the harder wearing a coating, the less able it is to handle expansion and contraction of the wood, so most coating choices represent tradeoffs to consider. It is very important to seal the underside of a deck or porch floor. The best method is to seal the bottom side of boards and end grain cuts before construction. If wood is near the ground, and the sun beats down on the top surface, moisture is drawn from the cool ground underneath up through the bottom side of the boards. This causes expansion and contraction of the wood, leads to cupping of the boards, and greatly reduces the long-term performance of any coating.

The product choice for your project should be determined by finding the most suitable product available given your specific project requirements.

Solid Color
For a solid painted look on exterior porch floors, you could consider Sikkens Rubbol Solid DEK, which is a flexible, breathable wood floor coating (not a paint). It looks solid like paint, but performs like a stain--no film to peel. It is breathable and flexible when applied to bare wood.

We choose California Coatings Enduradeck Acrylic Floor Stain System for many projects. The Acrylic makeup gives this coating excellent satin sheen and color retention.. It offers excellent adhesion to properly prepared surfaces that have been previously coated. Enduradeck is flexible and breathable and is a great choice to consider when coating exterior wood decks and flooring.

Previously Coated WoodRegardless of your coating choice, it will still be best to try to strip or sand any old, failed coating. After using strippers, many times wood is "fuzzed" and should be sanded using 3x Sand Paper 80 grit following the stripping process.3x Sand Paper is also designed for coating removal. The paper really does make a difference. Most floor coatings will recommend 80g bare wood sand, but it depends on the coating you choose. We use a Dust Free Palm Sander . If you have sharp corners on boards that could be slightly sanded round, that would be helpful. We always do a final brush vacuum prior to coating application, and actually wipe the surface to insure no dust can interfere with coating absorption and adhesion.


Sanding opens the pores of wood to accept stain, and also removes loose or deteriorated wood fiber that generally leads to premature coating failure and poor results. Sanding can also be utilized to blend or remove remaining stain after the deck stripping process. Even NEW Wood usually needs sanded due to "mill-glaze" resulting from the Planing Process , which compresses wood fiber, and "polishes" new wood making coating penetration virtually impossible. New wood should be sanded to remove possible mill glaze, or to remove grayed wood fiber if deck has weathered unprotected during the drying process. Sanding will always increase the adhesion and performance of your coating system.

For potentially dangerous sanding dust, use paper disposable dust collection bags, and dispose of properly. Use only vacuum capturing sanders, and sweep and wipe clean all surfaces immediately after sanding. Pets and family should not be exposed to sanded surfaces until wood is sealed and protected.

Please visit us at for valuable information BEFORE you build your deck. Wood must be back and end-grain coated for optimal performance.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Protecting and Staining Ipe, Mahogany, and Ironwood Deck or Porch Floor

We have tested numerous coatings over the years, and all have certain advantages and disadvantages to specific jobs. We continually test a variety of available wood care products. All the deck coatings we feature at are the best we have found in various product categories.

Exotic hardwood has always been a challenge. One TIME is our product of choice for exotic hardwood where a natural, non-varnished look is desired. It does bring out the natural beauty of the wood like an oil, darkening and enhancing. One TIME addresses and overcomes almost every disadvantage and performance shortcomings of traditional oils, new acrylics, and other products (drying issues, film-building, lap-marks, peeling, short-life, poor appearance). One Time cures in the sunlight and becomes part of the wood structure. There is no film building even with repeat applications. There are no lap marks, and there is no solvent hazard. It is environmentally friendly for use around water, and does not require harsh chemicals or strippers for later maintenance (also a plus around water). One TIME uses transoxide pigments which are premium UV blockers, but also very translucent and natural looking.

A huge advantage of One TIME Wood Protector is the ease of application, and lack of lap marking. Backside and end grain can be sealed prior to construction, and any bleed or runover to the front side blends in when we coat the topside after construction. It is very critical that low to ground decking, and porch flooring be backside sealed prior to installation. You still want to minimize run-over, but most products are very tedious and difficult to precoat with when trying to coat the back without getting coating on the board face. One Time is very forgiving of frontside overrun.

Below is is a client's deck finished with One TIME Golden Honey on Garapa Gold:

On new exotic hardwood, like Mahogany, Cumaru, Ipe, etc., I like to see the wood dry and weather 2-3 months to lose a little of the surface oils, and draw in the sealer. Acetone wipe can be used for quicker application, but weathering a little is always best. After weathering, we consider preparing the wood with an oxalic acid brightener. If wood is coated quickly when new, we may see a little shorter life on the first application if we are unable to deliver enough product into the surface. I like clients to understand the nature of hardwood. We normally get about 250-300 sq ft / gal on most wood, but we see more like 400 sq ft / gal on hardwood, so obviously we are getting about half the amount of product on the surface of the hardwood. We sometimes see greater longevity of the color after the second application in a couple of years, after the wood is a little seasoned.

Staining Ipe, Mahogany, and Ironwood

No stain lasts forever on tropical hardwoods or Ironwood, but One TIME lasts the longest. While One TIME is not the “silver bullet” we all seek, it is the closest we can get. While it will lighten and need rejuvenation, we at least get a fantastic summer and full winter out of it. Most oils go only around 6-8 months on tropical hardwood, with little protection and no beauty left by fall, going into the winter months. The winter graying leads to needed harsh chemistry, and sometimes sanding.

One TIME does not require, or need, any harsh chemistry to maintain. It will not darken or lead to stripping. You can simply clean with a detergent like Simple Green, SoilX, or Dirtex, and recoat as desired. One TIME cannot soak as deeply into Ipe as it does into most domestic woods, so be sure to apply maintenance coat thinly on tropical hardwood when color becomes faded. Maintenance and touchup is very easy with this product.

The only limitation of the One TIME is that it does require UV to cure, so it cannot be used in a covered and screened in area. Test a small sample board in any deeply covered area that gets no sunlight.

See Colors on Wood

OneTIME on Hardwood video discussion.

More on Tropical Hardwood