Need advice on removing solid-color stain from deck!

dmhmehJuly 19, 2007

Please help, we are desperate.

Last summer, we put a solid-color, white stain on our deck. We used Behr. This summer, it began to peel off. We have been told that this is common with solid-color stains because of the high pigment.

Now, we are trying to strip it. Our plan is to replace it with a semi-transparent stain (Cabot). However, we are having a lot of difficulty getting the old stain completely off. We have gone through an entire bottle of Behr deck finish remover. Can we use a pressure washer on our deck to remove the old finish?

Also, we've also read that sanding afterwards is a good idea, but we don't have a sander, and Home Depot doesn't rent deck sanders. What's the easiest type of sander to use? Our measly hand-sander isn't doing any good whatsoever...

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Hi Dm,
We used to sell Behr stains.
* Actually, solid stains do the best at blocking UV because of all the pigment.
* The flip-side of this is that solid-films are more easily pushed-off by water-vapor working its way into boards from the bottom.
* Deck-boards are basically dry sticks. Water-vapor enters through the bottom and wicks its way to the top...slowly pushing off solid films that, by their nature, don't breathe very well.
* This a big reason that low decks have a tough time holding any film, especially a solid one.

>>> If you had 2 identical decks, one a FOOT off the ground...the other 6' up...same sun exposure, same traffic, same solid stain, etc.....
>>> ...the LOW deck would lose its film first.
>>> With all else being the same, the only "invisible" variable is vapor-penetration.
>>> The old axiom comes to mind..."Water always wins"!

Something to think about...


Simple physics at work here.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2007 at 10:54PM
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Oops! See my replies on a couple other threads this evening also.

Call around to rental/paint/hardware-stores in your area. A flat, vibrating-plate sander works great...and FAST!
* The idea? Sand through the old finish, instead of wetting, scrubbing, stripping, waiting DAYS to dry...
* You could sand your deck 7-times over in that time-frame!
* It's actually the best/fastest way to prep a deck.
* Hand/palm-sanders are great for steps, seats, hand-rail tops, etc.
* Use a dust mask!!


    Bookmark   July 19, 2007 at 11:01PM
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Thanks for the tips. What about a pressure washer? When we were rinsing the stripper with our garden hose, we noticed that the hose seemed to be removing a lot of the old stain. I know we have to sand it anyway, but we're afraid of damaging the wood because we don't know anything about sanders...

    Bookmark   July 20, 2007 at 3:58AM
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Since you'll be sanding anyway, the P/W is irrelevant.
* See my above post about the sander-type to ask Rental-places for. Inquire if they have backer-pads & sanding-sheets too.
* I have some other replies concerning sanding on some threads dated 7-19/20-07.
* Used incorrectly, P/wshrs. can easily do more harm than good!


    Bookmark   July 20, 2007 at 8:11PM
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I am in the same situation. I just tried the same thing on my deck yesterday -- it has a solid deck stain (not Behr though) and used 2 types of stripper and power washer. Terrible results! So I will wait for it to dry and try a sander. Thanks for the tip. I was happy to see it when I googled the topic. I'd be interested to know what you try next and the results. Thanks!

    Bookmark   July 23, 2007 at 2:21PM
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WAS in the same boat as you! Using Faron's advice, I rented a sander. It took 4 hours to sand my 600sq ft deck, but it's all done and pretty. It worked great! Looking to restain in the next day or so. I think I will need to prime first, followed by a pigmented stain.

BTW, I tried the strippers first. They're messy, expensive, slow, a lot of work, and my knees hurt.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2007 at 9:44AM
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Sounds good Slate!!
600 s.f.....oooffda! Wish I had that much "footspace"!

>>> How high is your deck off ground??
>>> You mentioned priming your deck...are you using a solid Cabot stain over top of the Cabot "Problem-solving Primer"??
>>> With your "new" deck now...I'd use a Semi-Trans. so I could see all the pretty grain!

* Just make sure it's a FLAT-BOTTOMED, VIBRATING-PLATE sander...NOT the drum style.
* Get a couple backer-pads too.

Post back with your results guys!!

    Bookmark   July 25, 2007 at 12:54AM
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I have the same problem with a stain that I applied last year already peeling early this spring. I used a Wolman DuraStain product and will never do that again. I appreciate the information on sanding as Wolman suggested I used MORE of their products to first remove my stain and then reapply more! Unfortunately this is a huge project - porch, deck, several sets of stairs and then a boat dock. Your comments are appreciated!!!!

    Bookmark   July 25, 2007 at 3:22PM
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My deck is only a foot or two off the ground. I know what was said about the lower decks absorbing more moisture. But the reason I'm going back with a solid stain is that my rails and stiles are still stained and in good shape. Also, the screw heads and most of the knots still have original stain in them. In other words, I could not remove absolutely 100% of the original stain.

What esle would you recommend?

    Bookmark   July 25, 2007 at 11:19PM
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Hey Slate,
* Hmmmm...I can't in good faith recommend a Solid-stain for a low deck. They just don't breathe as well. Simple as that.
* But, since you have to, use the primer appropriate for the deck. The Cabot one is a good one...helps the solid colors "grip" better.
* If you can, don't close in the sides with Lattice, etc.
* Is there a Semi-Trans. color that would maybe coordinate?
Cabot has many colors to choose from. Your decking would breathe much better.

All the best!

    Bookmark   July 26, 2007 at 1:07AM
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Good suggestion about the Cabot semi-transparent. I might try that. Is that Cabot primer used under their semi-trans stain?

Oh, and the deck has no lattice, and is completely graveled underneath.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2007 at 9:50AM
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No, the Cabot primers are only used under solids to help them hold better. Otherwise you'd see the primer thru your S/T stain!
* I've seen a couple solid-color-spindle/handrail with S/T floor area stained decks, and thought it looked kinda cool!
* Again, S/T stains typically breathe better on a low deck, but realistically, I'd lightly clean and do a light-restain every other year...maybe every 3rd year...on the deck floor.
* You'll "keep ahead" of most damage this way, and color-wear will be a little more even.
* After 6 or 7 years, I'd haul out the sander again...before deck floor starts lookin' too "ridged"!


    Bookmark   July 26, 2007 at 11:12PM
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I have been going through this same deck stripping process and appreciate the advice concerning the sander. Since I tried stripping my deck yesterday, how long do I need to wait before sanding?
Also, any advise on what type of stain to use on a redwood deck to keep it looking as natural as possible? Thanks for your help.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2007 at 9:26AM
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Hi WB,
If you've had dry weather, 3 or 4 days is OK, then use the sander.
* You want all wood fibers to "shear off" nicely. If they're still damp, they may "tear" more...compared to a cleaner cut.
* Important point: Get all the dust you can from where you sanded!! Sweeping/Shop-vac/light wipe with paint thinner.
* Then, stain away!

Deck THERE'S a "hot topic" here!
* I can only speak of what we have good experience with at our store here in Fargo, ND...
* Our climate here can range from -30 to 100+, with ALL kinds of humidity. It's a wonder anything holds on a deck!
(our rough streets take a beating too!)

....That said....
* The "clear", "natural" colors from Penofin & Sikkens are our best sellers.
* PENOFIN: Cedar, Western Red Cedar, & Transparent Redwood are by far the 3 top colors here. TWO-COAT process normally on untreated wood. 2nd coat goes pretty quickly.

* SIKKENS: JEEZ we go through a lot of this stuff! SRD is appropriate for 95% of decks. ONE COAT on untreated wood.
>>>> Most popular SRD colors...
077 Cedar, 078 Natural, 005 Natural Light, Mahogany, & 089 Redwood.
* I've got an 11 yr.-old Redwood deck. I'm real happy with the SRD 089 Redwood I've got on it. I've had 2 yrs. off, but have to do it again this fall.
* We don't get any shade on ours; but, up here, that's about all we can realistically expect.

Let us know how it goes for ya!

    Bookmark   August 6, 2007 at 12:38AM
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