Deck Staining Nightmare.

steven994June 17, 2010


Two years ago my wife and I bought our current home. It's a 10 year old victorean style house with a 1000 sqft pressure treated deck. The deck was never stained and had a natural weathered look. The deck had no damage and is protected from intense sun from the 10 huge maples surrounding it.

After buying the house we decided to stain the deck to give it some extra flair. We chose a CIL semi-transparent redwood stain. It took me about 10 gallons to do the whole thing and about a weeks worth of my time.


1. Pressure wash deck to remove dirt, some mildew, and organic matter between deck boards.

2. Let dry for 3 days.

3. Horizontals - Applied stain with roller. (Did not back brush in)

4. Verticals - Applied stain with brush

4. Dried for a couple days (no rain throughout process)

One year later

The deck is an unsightly nightmare. I wish I never stained it at all. The stain has peeled almost everywhere. Its coming off in flakes just like paint. The only areas where the stain held up was on verticals (the spindles), and on the wrap around veranda that has an overhang from the house. This area doesnt get rained on, and doesnt get sap, dirt from the maple trees.

Cause hypothesis

I did notice that immediately after staining the deck water was not beading up on the deck like it should and rain would soak into the wood. Rain did bead up on the wrap around veranda, which is protected from the elements by the eve.

1. After 10 years of weathering, sap aborption, etc. The top layer of wood on my deck would not allow the stain to penetrate, leaving it as a layer on top, which easily peeled under rain, snow, freeze thaw conditions. This did not affect the area under the eve that held up nicely.

2. The deck is low to the ground (about a foot off the ground). All around the exterior there are facia boards so you can't look under neath. It may be possible that I have poor ventilation causing moisture to absorb into the deck from below, permiate through, and lift the stain off.

Im leaning to #1.

Possible fixes if I were to restain with redwood color

1. Sand the entire deck with a floor sander to remove top layers of damaged wood.

2. Buy a premium quality semi-transparent stain such as secants, oylmpic, cabot.

Big $ for large deck, and I dont mind that, but if the same thing happens, I'll probably go out of my mind, and destroy the deck with an axe.

Submit to mother nature, and opt for a two-tone deck

I am seriously considering this. I'm thinking about buying deck stripper and removing all the stain from the horizontal surfaces (the deck itself) and leaving the redwood stain on the verticals (the spindals). Then I would pressure wash the deck, and apply a clear protectant such as cabot australian timber oil. If this were to fade/fail over time it wouldnt be a big deal as its not huge color change.

How would a two tone deck look with a natural colored horizontals and redwood stained verticals? Opinions?

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I would love to see pictures of your deck.
I don't think the fix should be too difficult. You could remove the failed finish with a deck stripper like HD-80 and allow the deck to dry and then refinish it with minimal sanding, if any.
This will also help your wood take the finish better this time.
If you go with a clear the wood is going to turn gray and weathered again. I am just not sure how that would look against the red of your verticals. It would depend on the natural color of the patina the horizontal surfaces take on.
If you decided to go back with a semi transparent, you could opt for a paraffinic type finish. This type of finish is very easy to maintain because you can always apply it over itself without having to worry about overlapping and they will never peel! Woodrich-Brand Timber Oil is a paraffinic oil with very high pigment content. It looks rich and natural on most wood. Depending on the color of your wood, you could choose a stain that matches your rails or compliments them to get the two tone look

Here is a link that might be useful: Woodrich Brand

    Bookmark   June 17, 2010 at 2:56PM
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