View Poll Results: Cedar decking boards

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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Posts
    2

    Default Cedar deck not holding stain

    We have had this deck for 7 years and every year, I have to stain the deck. We've power washed it and have sanded it, hoping the "new wood" would take. I've tried Cabot, Thompson's, etc.....and nothing is working. All products after a few months sliver/peel and now, that the cedar is fading, it's getting a white washed look and the knots still have the color. The hand rails are keeping the color and haven't been done in 3 years. Does anyone have any suggestion on how to get this deck to the color of the sides and HOLD IT?
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  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Elyria, Oh.
    Posts
    236

    Default Re: Cedar deck not holding stain

    You have to sand it down to the original brown wood. Any grey wood that you see is wood that has deteriorated on the surface and will not accept paint or stain. You would probably have to rent a typical floor sander and get the wood down to "new" wood before attempting a stain.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Portland, Oregon, formerly of Chicago
    Posts
    1,580

    Default Re: Cedar deck not holding stain

    Sbrewer,

    I am assuming that the deck was new. The most common reason for failure on a new deck is the presence of "mill glaze". Mill glaze is the result of the boards having been planed smooth at the mill. The spinning blades heat up and polish the surface of the wood and cause the wood grain to be sealed up. Any stain will merely sit on the surface and not penetrate deep into the wood. If you stain over this without first opening the grain up, it will look beautiful initially, but then fail be the following year.

    Historically, new decks would be left to weather for several months before staining. The sun and rain would open up the grain. In recent years, chemicals have been used to rapidly open the grain. These are usually a mild solution of oxylic acid.

    What to do now: You must remove the existing finish on the deck, either with chemicals or sanding. Neither a fun project! Chemicals are generally caustic strippers that dissolve the finish and then must be followed up with neutralization with an acid, such as oxylic. Sanding might be the lesser of the evils, especially if you possess a good belt sander and or pad sander. Sanding, however, can also cause mill glazing. Before you re-stain, test for mill glaze by sprinkling the deck with water. If the water beads up on the surface, rather than almost immediately penetrating the wood, so will the stain also not penetrate the wood. If this is the case, treat the wood with the oxylic acid to open the grain.

    With what to stain?: I assume that the Cabot's and Thompson's were both oil stains. I have never been a fan of Thompson's products because they contain a lot of silicon. Silicon presents problems in re-coating in future years. Silicon repells inself!

    I have used Cabot's "Clear Solutions" stains in the past and had good results. However, be advised that I know of no oil based stain that does not highly suggest yearly refresher coats of stain. Also, when re-coating, any stain that does not penetrate the surface, but remains sitting on the surface, must be wiped off with rags or paper towels. If you don't, the surface will remain tacky for months! It is best to follow the manufacturers instructions faithfully!

    The main benefit to oil stains is, that if done right, they will not peel, as there is no film left sitting on the surface. Most of the Acylic/latex stains leave more film on the surface and is therefore more prone to peeling. However, if done properly, they can give longer service before re-coating is neccessary.

    It is normal for the verticle parts of deck to last much longer than the flat surfaces. Water cannot pool and penetrate on verticle surfaces. Neither do you walk on the verticle surfaces. I would bet that the top of the your hand rail does show some weathering, especially if it is a wide board with the broad side up.

    When choosing stains, be advised that stains with more color pigment will last longer than relatively clear or clear stains.
    It is largely the pigment that blocks the UV rays of the sun.

    Hope I haven't spoiled your week-end!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Portland, Oregon, formerly of Chicago
    Posts
    1,580

    Default Re: Cedar deck not holding stain

    Sbrewer,
    I just looked at the enlarged photo of your deck. It has really grayed! I would first try removing the gray with oxylic acid, such as Behr's 2-in-1 Deck Cleaner. Behr's is only found at Home Depot. It normally will totally remove the gray if directions are followed. If it does not, it is probably because of the silicon remaining on the wood. As I noted above, this is precisely why I do not care for Thompson's. The wood turns gray, but still repells water! If this is the case, it is back to chemical strippers or sanding.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Posts
    2

    Default Re: Cedar deck not holding stain

    ordjen,

    When we built the deck, I didn't wait to stain, since it wasn't the typical treated wood. So, it's been years of battling the staining processes. The deck has been untreated for a year (suggested by the local hardware store), so I believe that's why it's so gray.

    So, sounds like I'm going to be making a trip to Home Depot for some Behr's 2-in-1 deck cleaner. Then, if that doesn't work, on my hands and knees sanding. Shall I expect to see the brown wood after one of these attempts?

    Sounds like you have been down this road before!

    Thank you for your time, you have been a huge help!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Portland, Oregon, formerly of Chicago
    Posts
    1,580

    Default Re: Cedar deck not holding stain

    Sbrewer,

    It sounds like you used what is commonly called "sun wood". It is pressure treated with a brownish colored chemical. It retards rot, but will fade with time. It can be stained, although new treated lumber should be allowed to dry out first. The treating process pushes moisture deep into the wood.

    All woods will eventually turn gray if not protected or given periodic cleaning with a bleaching agent. Oxalic acid is great for bringing back the original color of the wood.

    Yes, I have done too many decks over the years! When I moved into my present house in Oregon several years ago, I had the choice of putting in a wood deck, or pouring decorative concrete. I went with concrete! I am getting too old to want to be doing this much labor in my old age! Western Oregon is a terrible climate for exterior wood - long, mild, wet winters followed by hot, desert like dry summers.

    Oddly enough, back in the cold Mid-West, I wood have gone with the wooden deck due to problems with frost heaving with concrete.

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