Friday, June 24, 2016

Deck Maintenance

We have a reasonable sized deck in our backyard and for as little time as we spend outside, it has truly become the bane of my existence.

I remember when we first moved in, it was in fair shape.  It was a dull grey and weathered, but not horrible.  This was 2007 and my father in law and I scrubbed it with a brush and put sealant down.  He rolled, while I back brushed.  Then about 3 years later we had it restored.  They replaced a few boards.  Then using a floor sander, they sanded the whole thing and then finished it with a dark red stain.  This looked really good for about 4 years.  2 years ago we hired a handy man to clean and paint the deck.  This looked good as well and would be the current state of the deck except...

In 2015, we had an incredible rabbit burden on our property and to discourage them from living under the deck, we again hired a handy man to put up some rabbit proof wire around the deck.  During the course of this installation, he found some rotting boards and we again had a lot of repairs done and some boards which needed to be painted to match the rest.

In my infinite home improvement wisdom and coming off of a recent win painting a fence, I decided to try pressure washing the deck and then painting over the whole thing.  After about 6 hours of pressure washing a lot of loose flecks of paint did come up, but there is still a lot on the deck.  I was not deterred and still though I could paint over it.  The guy at Home Depot strongly discouraged me and instead of paint and putty for the the few significant cracks, I brought home two containers of paint stripper.  We will see how this plays out.  My current plan(s) is to:

Plan A)  Strip the paint, clean the wood and paint over the whole thing

Plan B)  If stripping does not go well, come back with a belt sander, sand and stain

Plan C)  If belt sanding looks suspect, replace the worst boards and paint

I figure it will take me the better part of the summer.  On the upside, we really don't use the deck too often and it will be a good learning experience for me.  If at the end of the day, I end up owning a pressure washer, I will likely wash and seal it every year just to be on the safe side.


Used Behr Wood Stain & Finish Stripper No 64 ($20, The Home Depot) Stripping the paint worked out pretty well.  I started Sunday morning at about 6 AM and was done by 11:30AM.  I was working in sections and would apply the stripper, let it set for 30 minutes, scrub/hose it off and repeat.  Next weekend, cleaning the wood.


I cleaned the wood with Behr All in One Wood Cleaner No 63 ($10, The Home Depot).  I cleaned the deck on Saturday and this went really quick.  It was midday, so I wet down the deck, painted on the cleaner, scrubbed it with a bristle brush and rinsed it off.  I worked over 3 sections and it took about 2 hours.

On Sunday, I started sanding using a Dewalt 3 amp 5 inch corded hook and loop sander ($59, The Home Depot) and Diablo 5 inch 80 grit universal hole random orbital sanding disk with hook and loop backing sand paper ($5 for 4 disks, I needed 10 disks).  This was slow but steady.  I did half the deck in the morning and the other half in the afternoon.  4 hours total.

On Monday, it was time to stain and seal.  I used Behr Transparent Weatherproofing Wood Finish Natural No 500 ($30/gallon, I needed 1.5 gallons).  This went pretty fast as well.  I did the first coat in the morning and it took about 2 hours.  The second coat went faster and I finished in the evening in another hour.

All in I am looking at 20 hours, $110 worth of materials, and a $60 tool for a deck that looks pretty darn good.

Annually, my plan is to clean with the All in One Cleaner and add a coat of weatherproofing.  This works out to about $40/year and 3 hours in annual maintenance which is not too bad.  I selected the color to match the fence weatherproofing so I can maximize materials.

Lessons learned - Since the deck had been coated with Behr Deck Over, I should have just painted the new board and left the rest.  It is probably worth owning an impact driver to drive down screws prior to sanding.  Be very careful using a pressure washer as I gouged out several boards being too aggressive.

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