The Deck. Redux. Part I.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Aye me oh my oh boy oh goodness everyone.  The deck.  Whooie.

testing deck stain remover
I realized I forgot a before shot so this is kinda close.  With wet stuff on it.
Sometimes learning takes the hard path.  Yay.

And if there's one lesson to be learned here, make sure you do something like deck staining right.  And do heaps of research about products, what is right for yours.  And if you end up having to redo it, try your darndest to get it damn correct.

For those who were counting, I suppose that equals more than one lesson.

To catch y'all up, in case you're just joining us, way back when, goodness, not even a month after starting this blog, I began chit-chatting about our plot of outdoors and a future deck.  I shared with you the disaster that was the yard.

Then three years ago, deck construction began!  Woot!  Excitement abounded!  Excitement gushed over when the deck was completed; wow it was fabulous!

I added a couple lame a** solar lights that eventually pooped out and poured the footings taller due to our water issues in the yard, attempting to protect the wood from insidious moisture.

Next I dressed the face up with loads of amazing plants.  Man, I miss those tall grasses.  Yeah, they never came back.  Sniffle.  But now they're peonies!

Then the customizing commenced.  Out of pallet wood, I fashioned a bottle opener with cap catcher.  Still works like a charm.  Later with a puppy gate to keep our nutty boy trapped on the deck while we relax there, from eating the wee dog next door under the fence or terrorizing passerby on the sidewalk out front.  Oh Finn.

Oh and yesssss, we added the retractable awning!  That was fun!  Well, fun after.  Nah, I had fun as I do whenever I spend time with Mike.

Then lo, that spring began the deck sealing saga with a siliconized clear waterproof sealer.  In rereading, adorable how I'm all naively clap clap, bam it's done, finito.  Little did I know...

So it didn't appear that this sealer lasted terribly long.  Or maybe it did and I misinterpreted the signs.  But I truly felt it didn't.   Water was soaking into the wood.  Telltale sign?  It echoed worn away.  And how could it not?  The deck is exposed to raging sunlight and the elements 24/7/365.  Who wouldn't wear out?

A year and a half later, aka last fall, after a full year of seasons +, of various Chicago weathering barreling down on it, I purchased a stain and slathered it on the deck.  So beginneth the calamity.

Weird, I wonder how we went from Mike wanting to keep the wood natural to a stain with color.  Alas, minds change it seems.  I don't remember the switch though, hm.


So I purchased a stain see, a semi-transparent one from Paramount by Pittsburg.  It sounded all wooo fancy pants, like a deck savior in a can.  Huh, I think I saw their "Fine Wood Finish," which specifically says "pressure treated wood."  Probably the dry time and clean up deterred me.  And the colors.

Although that link on Menards' site says the one I bought is oil penetrating, solvent clean up, dry time twenty four hours as well.  Mmmm hmmm....Yeah, no, the can says water clean up.

Regardless, this is gobs of backstory.  Man, we have come a long way.  Okey doke, onwards.

I didn't like the Kona color.  Much.  At all.  (ORANGE!!)  Hmph, it was too late.

But.  Turns out it wasn't.


Because less than a few months later, omg, less than a month and a freakin' half later, the stain is flaking off the deck, last December.

Wow, that's bad.  I thought more time had elapsed, huh, uh, nope.  Not even two months.  Come this past spring, the deck looks like it's been through a war.  Flaking stain, gray wood, it's pathetic.

Now, that could have been due to the previous sealer.  I dunno.  Or maybe I screwed up the application.  Or maybe the Paramount stain sucked royally.

Figuring there were too many factors at play which surely they count on, I didn't pursue a refund despite their boastful warranty.  I knew they'd bring up those points, probably more too, and vvrrrttt, veto it.  Usually sh*t like that doesn't deter me but with every single iron in the fire lately, I felt my time was best served moving on.

And moving on I did.  Screw it.

Or I guess it's more like screw me as, backed into a flaked corner, I had to strip the stain* off the deck.

Yep.  Clearly the latter there.  Yep.

testing stain remover on deck with chip brush
Yeah it's a repeat photo, sorry.
Picked up two gallons of that stripper you see there in the photo and went at the back-breaking work of inching along the deck on hands and knees, scrubbing with a heavy duty scrub brush,* hosing the damn thing down.  Rinse (literally), repeat.

removed deck stain stripper
Pleased and shocked this stripper accomplished so much.  And so we begin.......
Talk about sore.  It took several attempts, three separate days, three chunks each attempt, several hours at a shot.  Plus touch up's here and there.  Weather permitting, as an unrelenting heat wave pulled through and sat.

Thinking I was going to run out of stripper, which turns out I did despite one gallon saying it'd be enough, I purchased another container.

deck stain stripper progress
Where things were after day two.  See how terrible it looked on the left?  Hard to, I know.  How handy the neighboring tree shadows.  It totally looked like a cheesily painted theater set.  I couldn't leave things that way, nope.  
Turns out the new stripper was different so whole new learning curve ensued.  Much more of a pain until I figured out how best to make it work.  Directions aren't always accurate.  Plus I was not using a power washer.

See, I never ever ever understand why people say it's ok to use a power washer on a wood deck.  Ever.  That's like the worst.  It's so damaging to wood.  It opens the pores, etches the wood, raises the wood fibers, makes the wood fuzzy, causes splintering, beats the snot out of it, pummels the wood pulp between the grain, and causes premature aging.

It's like opening a gigantic door into the wood inviting in Stranger Danger.  Why do that?  Bad!  Especially if your deck wood is older.  Oy my goodness.

Water forced into wood is not good.  It's just not.  That's why deck wood comes pressure treated, people, why people seal decks.  Wood + water = destruction.

Sure, there are folks who say dial down the pressure and it'll be fine or yeah it's bad but fine; I would never ever use a power washer on a deck.  It's a recipe for disaster and for replacing the wood much sooner than necessary.  Do you want that?  No, I didn't think so.

And if you skip the power washer, don't use bleach either, folks.  Mmk?  Mmk.

But please, just do not power wash your wood deck.  You wouldn't do either to your hardwood floor, right?  Right.  Wood is wood is wood.  And FYI, you'll never convince me otherwise.

Right.  So.  Ok.

So this new stripper was different and it stung and was harder to use and dissolved my chip brush.*  That's scary and not what I wanted.  But.  I did notice after spreading it on parts I already stripped, it pulled up leftover crap.

deck stain stripper first round complete
"Mommy, you missed some stuff."
redoing areas with deck stain stripper
Ugh.  I accidentally mixed the two strippers resulting in this mess.  This entire area got touched up again which is how I discovered the new stripper pulled other leftover remnants.
Which was good.  Good.  I guess.  I was rather concerned that the previous stripper hadn't done a well enough job anyway, leaving behind resistant residue, henceforth I planned to sand the whole damn thing.

So big huge double triple sigh, I opted to spread the new stuff over the entire deck.  All of it.  Again.

stripping the rails and posts
And yep, I even stripped the posts and rails.  Since the wood facing around the deck is warping, I might remove and replace it.  Right post stripped, left not.  Finn, my omnipresent 100 lb. underfoot shadow.  No, he was never outside nor on the deck around the chemicals.
Yep.  Stripped it twice I did.  Glutton for punishment, thank you very much.

deck stain stripping complete after two rounds
Post twice stripage.  Lookin' good.
But ahhhhh now the deck is mostly back to the yellow-green of pressure treated wood.  So I'm feeling better about moving forward.

deck stain remover complete
It almost looks like it did before this staining fiasco.
Before going all in staining, I started sanding the deck but I'm wondering if I need to now.  The wood feels raised a bit, maybe because it's still damp from rinsing.  We'll see.  The sanding made for nice smooth wood.  And as I started it, I might have to finish it to avoid stain unevenness.

I did test the new stain, the new color.  You can see above.  Cabot Semi-Transparent* Oil Penetrating Deck and Siding Stain Low VOV in Dark Gray.  Couldn't help myself.  Plus it was a motivator to keep truckin' on the stain removal, a glorious light at the end of the tunnel.

new gray stain from Cabot test
Of course I freaked out, omg omg it's a totally different color omg how do I feel about this?!?!
Turns out I had inadvertently dribbled some onto the deck.  The stripper didn't remove it soooo, yeah, I'm excited that this Cabot is going to WORK.  I did a boatload of research, people, a boatload.

railing with new stain
I sure hope I like this....Gosh those coneflowers are so pretty!
Is a stripper neutralizer, aka deck brightener,* necessary now?  Not sure.  (Ugh, guess it is.  Great.  More chemicals.  Boo.)  Am I going to use a cleaner on the deck?  Not sure.  In the meantime I await a few storms to help with deck rinsing and it'll be time to wrap this b*tch up.

new Cabot stain on railing
This gray better work out..........
Hey, happy ten year wedding anniversary babe!  Woot, look at us!  I love you!  And happy birthday to my dad!  I love him too!  And sniffle, the hard one, happy birthday to Hailey.  I miss you baby girl.

Head to Part II of the deck by clicking here!

*The deck stain strippers, heavy duty scrub brushes,  chip brushes, Cabot stain, and deck brighteners are Amazon affiliate links.  Mwah, thanks!  Please see the "boring stuff" tab for more info.


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