Redwood deck finishing questioning: new construction/SF Bay Area

cooperyangJuly 21, 2008

Sorry if this has already been beaten to death.

I live in the San Francisco Bay Area (on the peninsula) and am almost ready to apply a finish to my newly constructed redwood deck. The deck is in a partially shaded area.

1. Surface preparation - should I pressure wash or sand or ???

2. Finish - I have some samples of Cabot's Neutral Base Stain (7406) and Semi Transparent Natural Tone Redwood (707) and I like them both. Are these appropriate? I hear good things about Australian Tung Oil and would consider that too. My requirements are the usual ideals: reasonably good looking and not excessive maintenance.

thanks in advance,


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I'm exactly where you are - new redwood deck, ready to finish. I've found the deck finish industry to be very difficult to get a handle on. The literature is sketchy and doesn't always match whats available in stores around here. And on web forums, one person's success with a product can be matched to another's disaster.

But I'm leaning towards Cabot's Clear Cedar, though I've not seen a semi-transparent sample except for what's on Cabot's web site. Can you tell me if your semi-transparent sample looks "painted" at all. I want to keep away from the opaque end of the spectrum without going purely clear and the lack of durability that comes with it.

As far as prep goes, all I'm going to do is sand out any boot prints and black strapping marks and remove the dust with a damp rag. Then I'll let the sun darken the newly sanded areas for a few days, go over it again with a rag to clean any new dust off and apply the stain. I've read that Cabot has a pre-finisher for softwoods to make the stain absorb evenly but I think I'll skip that step. I don't think I'd ever rick pressure washing soft redwood so when the day comes to resurface this deck of mine, I'll rent a big sander.

Concerning Aussi Timber Oil, I think it's more for hardwoods, even though Cabot's literature includes redwood as an application. I wish I knew more.


    Bookmark   July 21, 2008 at 8:13PM
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The semi-transparent is not really a painted look. I think I will use it. If you are anywhere near Los Altos you are welcome to see it.


    Bookmark   July 23, 2008 at 9:49PM
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Thanks for the offer but I've decided on the Clear. Tomorrow, at 7am, I'm painting it on, starting where the sun first hits at around 9am. After a year I'll most likely have to re-do, at which time I may go for the semi-transparent. It's a rental in Lafayette, East Bay, but I like to it to be nice.

Enjoy your deck-


    Bookmark   July 23, 2008 at 11:02PM
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Hi guys, I'm in Los Gatos.

First off, let the redwood dry out, probably a month of good weather. You will notice the gaps between the boards should be greater then when you installed it.

Best if you sand any marks right away, so that the surface is allowed to age like the rest of the boards.

Clean with a tannin remover and a brightner. A pressure washer is helpful, but can also destroy the surface if used inproperly.

Allow deck to dry out after cleaning for a day or two. Try to keep pets off, footprints can show through after staining.

We prefer Penofin or Superdeck on redwood. Usually the "Natural", which has some tint to it.

No matter what you use, you will need to repeat the process yearly to keep it looking it's best.

Good Luck


    Bookmark   July 24, 2008 at 4:27PM
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Thanks, Mark;

My boards were mostly fairly dry, though I didn't measure with a meter. I thought the finishing process would take an hour or so, (450 sq feet), but it took over 3, probably because I hadn't counted on the time it takes to get down into the space between boards with the brush. Most importantly the deck is done and I'm going to take a nap now.


    Bookmark   July 24, 2008 at 4:48PM
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I bought BEHR's 'semi-transparent' redwood deck stain from HD. Did not test as I should have...and wound up with 'red' paint on my 'clear heart' redwood!
Now it's sand and coat with an oil based 'transparent' product. Very disappointed!!

    Bookmark   June 21, 2009 at 5:33PM
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