painting redwood decking
Does anyone have any suggestions on what steps should be used when painting redwood decking? Here's my situation: I live in Hawaii, on the Big Island at the 3100' elevation and have a 700 SF redwood deck. Our climate can range from hot/sunny/cold/wet/windy all within a few days time. We tried stain, both transparent and semi-transpartent but nothing lasts more than 3 months. We even tried Thompson's water sealer-still no luck. It is a sizeable deck and who wants to re-stain/seal 4 x's a year. Asked our local HD paint dept what should we use and were told floor and deck paint would work. That lasted a bit longer than the others but still we had to repaint much too often. Now the paint has bubbled and peels off in strips. My dad, a retired contractor, said redwood has too much oil in it to hold paint (now he tells me!) I really don't like the weathered, grey look of raw redwood are there any suggestions regarding painting the dck?
Re: painting redwood decking
Your father is right, redwood does not hold paint well. Over the years, I have had to contend with peeling on redwood siding more than with any other type of siding.
I never like full bodied paint on any deck built with traditional joist and spaced decking lumber. There are too many ways that moisture can enter the wood, i.e. thousands of nails/screw holes, joints, decking sitting on un-protected joists, etc. Once the moisture is in the wood, the paint film prevents it from getting out and peeling results.
Redwood is inherently rot resistant. If you do nothing but keep the mildew and fungus under control with periodic cleaning, it will last just as long as if your faithfully coated the deck with stains or paint!
If you want to keep the natural look without the graying, you only need to give your deck a periodic cleaning with an oxalic acid solution. Several manufacturers have such cleaning solutions, Behr and Cabots, etc. The acid solution is actually quite mild. It will get rid of any graying. Personally, I would consider a periodic light coat of clear decking oil, such as Cabot's "Clear Solution". This will give your redwood a little luster and help slow down the drying of the wood and splitting which results. Clear Solution also comes in several tints, but the clear version will not have a build up of color.
Unfortunately, you will have to remove that solid paint film first, either through sanding or chemicals. Not fun,but doable.