Cleaning/sealing unknown wood deck

shellazureMarch 27, 2010

Last July we bought a home in Florida and now that it's our "dry season" I'm thinking it's the time to clean and seal the deck. I have no clue what type of wood it is, though. I've searched through and found great recommendations for people with cedar, redwood and ipe decks. I know to stay away from Home Depot/Lowes/Behr stuff as well as that one-time-application stuff and may check out the local Sherwin Williams but I'd like to know from you learned people if it's going to make a huge difference that I don't know what sort of wood my deck is made from.

Here's a couple links to pictures of the wood:

Up by the door under the screened in porch where it's most protected -

And down at the steps on the open deck where it's least protected -

I've read about oxygen bleaches and wanted thoughts on those. I have a dog and would like something that would be safe for him and for the grass/vegetable garden surrounding the deck. I'm looking for a sealer that will sink into the wood and can be reapplied each year without having to be stripped. I'd prefer something with a tint to it as I'm not a huge fan of grey wood. Thank you in advance!

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    Bookmark   March 27, 2010 at 2:59PM
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I was just looking at their site. Is there much difference between, say, the 100, 300, and 500 series?

    Bookmark   March 27, 2010 at 3:35PM
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bah nevermind that was the TWP site.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2010 at 3:37PM
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My answer on both cleaning and sealing is that it does matter what type of wood it is. Below is a post I posted today under someone's older post of "I've had it with deck stain!"

I also have "had it" with deck stain. Information in this area of expertise is confusing and often erroneous. Most subjects, I can research and obtain clear answers. There seem to be no clear answers or consensus regarding deck staining. It's very frustrating! I bought a home with a large older deck stained gray (appeared to have many old coats). I first got some deck cleaner and some Thompson's Water Seal Waterproofer Plus Clear Wood Protector, because many of my friends and family had used it without complaint. I was just going to reseal the old gray deck as it was started to show signs that it was no longer protected. The directions said to wash the deck first. I washed the deck and some of the stain came off in places in the deck was all blotchy. I researched and therefore decided to strip the deck and start over. I stripped the old gray stain/finish off until it was a pine color - took 8 gallons of stripper and countless hours. I think it is pressure treated pine lumber. I then researched and decided to sand the wood as many kept suggesting it.

I had no idea what type of sealer or stain to put on. I researched, and there were no clear answers. I did more research and finally decided on Australian Timber Oil (highly suggested by many) in Natural (samples showed a pine color). (Although choosing a good stain or sealer is very confusing.) I wanted a natural wood look so I could simply gently wash the deck once or twice a year and reseal. I didn't really care if I had to apply sealer often or not. I just never wanted to have to strip colored stain again. I very lightly applied the natural stain and then wiped back over with a cloth. Once applied to the soft lumber, the stain was not Natural in color but was brown - dark brown. I absolutely did not overapply. In fact it dried within a few hours.

After further research, I have learned much.

First of all, Australian Timber Oil is for hard woods only even though the directions state it can be applied to softer woods. The soft woods absorb the stain too quickly. Sanding made the wood absorb the stain even more quickly. Thus, the "Natural" stain went on dark brown.

In addition, older soft woods outdoors are notoriously difficult to stain without getting blotchy. I found a great site explaining how to prevent this by sealing the wood prior to staining. Here is the article:

If someone ever has small areas where they overapplied the stain or stain stays tacky and doesn't dry, I found a great tip (although this was not my problem): Simply wipe those areas gently with mineral spirits.

Now, I'm just going to wait for it wear off some and when it's time to seal or condition again, I'll maybe apply some clear oil based product. Not sure yet. I'm just going to live with the blotchy appearance unless there are suggestions that don't involve stripping again.

Also, only gently wash decks with colored stain or some of the stain may come off and give a blotchy appearance.

In my case, sanding didn't seem to do anything to help at all except waste a lot of time and effort.

I kind of wish I had not even cleaned the deck that first time and had just applied the thompson's water seal and been done with it.

As time goes on, I may have more tips I learned the "hard" way.

I just don't understand why this subject seems so difficult to research and why there is no one place that could have explained some of this and consolidated all the tips. Also I wish there were more explanations, such as: Why exactly do so many people slam Thompson's water seal? They say it has wax but then don't explain why wax is bad. They say it doesn't last long, but maybe someone out here doesn't care how long it lasts or how often they have to put it on.

No one explained that Australian Timber Oil would apply MUCH darker to soft woods. They just said it worked great on soft woods.


    Bookmark   April 6, 2010 at 5:15PM
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I know that my deck wood is cedar. What I don't know is whether the stain is oil or water based. There are several areas where there is old solid stain patches, some large and a few smaller and very large areas of dirty old gray, down to the wood, decking. What kind of stripper should I use to remove the stain?

    Bookmark   September 9, 2012 at 12:32PM
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