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Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Deck Stain Problems

For most homeowners, deck care is frustrating, disappointing, and costly. Common problems include frequent maintenance, cupping and warping of boards, and in some cases wood replacement. Most homeowners have tried various stains that they see advertised or reviewed in consumer publications, and various online sources. Many times these tests are not conducted in a real-world situation, rather in a lab setting. Most stains carried by the national chains and warehouse type outlets lead to a paint-like look that covers the wood to get a high UV resistance rating. Many times these reviews do not take into account the natural beauty of the wood, wear and tear from dogs, kids, furniture, and mother nature.

For truly consistent and satisfactory deck care with enduring beauty, we must start when the deck is being built. Much of the treated lumber used for building decks today arrives at the jobsite containing approximately 60% moisture. This saturated wood dries rapidly leading to warping and cupping and stressing of the fasteners. Once the deck is built it is many times difficult to coat the bottom side of the deck.

When wood is uncoated on the bottom side, it allows moisture to be absorbed, especially if the deck is close to the ground. This moisture will cause expansion and contraction of the boards and in some cases, the moisture must pass through the bottom of the board and out through the top causing problems with the coating or stain on the topside of the board. More

When the deck is built and saw cuts are made we create another tremendous source of moisture intrusion. Saw cuts cannot be sealed once the deck is built. So the solution to this common problem is to get your wood a few weeks before the deck is going to be built, stack it with spacers allowing air movement through the stack allowing the wood to dry slowly before the deck is built. Once the wood is dry, a sealer or waterproof or can be applied to the backside and all saw cuts as the deck is being built. Once construction is completed, the topside of the deck can be stained or sealed or finished with the appropriate product.

We continue to see excellent results in our testing and evaluation of One TIME Wood Protector. One TIME Wood Protector is uniquely different than any other stain or wood finish we have tested.

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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Common Problems with Deck Care

This article will be most helpful to clients who are building or planning a new deck. It can also be helpful to understand why many common deck care problems occur on existing decks.

Common Problem

UNCOATED END GRAIN AND BACKSIDE MOISTURE INTRUSION
It is the nature of wood to absorb and store moisture through natural design. Capillaries and cells of wood are simply nature’s waterways, and when exposed to moisture, dry wood will seek and absorb water. Moisture intrusion into wood is predominately through saw cuts and exposed end grain. In a very simple test, you can take a piece of deck lumber and stand it on end in about an inch of water. Within 12-24 hrs, moisture elevation will be measurable up to 3 feet into the length of the board.

Unsealed end grain leads to a legacy of costly maintenance, and splitting and cupping of deck lumber. As wood dries, it shrinks. Any change in moisture content to various parts of the board will cause expansion and contraction cycles to the wood that lead to cracking and splitting.

Better Solution

Seal all end grain before and during installation.
Seal backside prior to construction, as many times, underside is inaccessible after construction.
If you make a saw cut, re seal the exposed end grain.

Common Problem

HIGH MOISTURE WOOD
Most cupping and splitting is the result of rapid drying of wood, as decks and structures are constructed of wet lumber. The more rapid the wet to dry cycle, the more pronounced splitting and cupping will be. Most of the wood that is used in new construction is high in moisture content, and improperly handling that issue can lead to a lifetime of various deck care issues and costly problems. Since you should not dry wood rapidly in the sun, you should never build a deck out of wet lumber, unless you build a very big tent.

Better Solution

Wet wood must be dried in a controlled fashion, by racking and stacking wet wood for a few weeks prior to construction. Stack your lumber with 1 or 2” spacers between layers, boards 1” away from each other. Even if indoor storage is not available, stack the wood on any flat surface (a couple of wood pallets would do), then spacer the wood for air movement, and cover with blue tarp or other covering. Be sure to stack some weight on top of the stack to keep the drying boards flat. Dry to under 20% moisture range, and you are then ready to pre-coat the back side, followed by end-grain coating as saw cuts are made during construction.

Common Problem

MILL GLAZE
When wood is planed (smoothed) at the sawmill, resin, sap and sawdust is “polished” onto the surface of the wood. This “mill glaze” will repel most wood coatings, and if coated over, can lead to a legacy of maintenance issues. Mil glaze is apparent if you can look at an angle across the wood, and you see a shiny surface.

Better Solution

Do not stain over mil-glazed wood. While mil-glaze can weather off over time, the best approach is to remove by washing, or in some cases, sanding. Wash with TSP or a strong oxygen bleach cleaner and scrub, or sand where appropriate. Sanding is not advised for some treated lumber.



Choosing the best deck care product for your project:

More on new Decks

Check out the before and after here and below. These guys had to work hard to strip and sand to remove the failed finish. What a hassle.












Use One TIME the first TIME. No stripping again.