Frequently Asked Questions
- Does Deck Resurrect power wash houses too?
- What can the homeowner do in preparation for power washing?
- My deck is newly built about a year or so. Is it necessary to have it power washed before sealing or staining it?
- Why is your business called Deck Resurrect if you also power wash more than just decks?
- Will the chemicals you use harm my plants and flowers?
- What chemicals are being used and why are they needed?
- I have these small black dots all over my siding. What is it and can it be removed?
- How long do you wait after power washing a deck before sealing it?
- If you apply to your deck a deck stain, then do you need to apply clear sealer over the deck stain?
- How many coats of stain should a deck get in order to seal properly?
- It is supposed to rain on the day that Deck Resurrect is scheduled to come. Should I or they postpone the appointment?
- My husband wants to buy a small consumer power washer and clean our deck and house. What do you think of this investment?
- I live in a town home, is their any discounts for our smaller size decks?
- Should I go with an oil stain or an acrylic latex stain for my deck?
- What is the difference among Clear, Toner, Semi-Transparent and Solid Hide Stain?
- What brand stain does Deck Resurrect use or recommend?
- Why have deck stain companies changed their formulas so much?
DeckResurrect FAQ © 2007-2012
Does Deck Resurrect power wash houses too?
Absolutely! See point (4) for explanation.
What can the homeowner do in preparation for power washing?
The most important thing is to make sure the water for your exterior hose bib is turned on. We cannot start the job if there is no water supply. It is an unwritten rule that we use your water supply when power washing, though every effort is made not to waste it. Good water pressure is ideal. However, if the pressure is lower, we have ways to get around that problem and still accomplish the job. Close your windows tight if you are getting the house power washed (optional: raise your window screens slightly; this helps with drainage around the window). For decks, remove everything off the deck (large gas grills do not need to be moved if they can roll, unless you want to remove it, but please cover it). Keep everything off the deck, including foot traffic from man or animals, until one full day after the deck is sealed.
For REO or Real Estate Owned, bank owned homes where water and electric is turned off, we can strategically bring water at times and have enough to clean smaller homes. Please call us about the house in question.
My deck is newly built (within a year). Is it necessary to have it power washed before sealing or staining it?
It is recommend, but ultimately the answer depends on the amount of sun exposure or dirt and; pollution the deck has had, and also the direction the deck is facing (is it in the woods, etc?). Their is apparently what is called "mill glaze" during planing of the wood that causes some wood to not receive a stain well. This is another sound reason to power wash to prepare wood to able to receive stain. Sometimes new wood becomes dirty at or during construction time. Case in point with UV damage: A friend had his deck rebuilt, but the deck was elevated in view of full southern sun. Less than two years later, he asked me to evaluate his deck. The deck looked like it was dying from old age. The decking boards were gray, warping, splitting and coming apart with the sun damage. The school of thought has changed about waiting six months before sealing. Many believe you should seal a deck much sooner, perhaps when the moisture has mostly left the deck.
Why is your business called Deck Resurrect if you also power wash more than just decks?
Because originally we were located between Baltimore and Washington DC, and the homes typically have big decks that needed cleaning. In general, the exteriors of the houses did not get as dirty as the decks did. Currently, we are based out of the Eastern Shore and the exact opposite is true here (except for the beach areas, where both homes and decks are big and both get dirty). Typically here, decks are small.
Consumer Reports rated Behr Solid & Semi-Transparent stain the best. HOWEVER, contractors and DIY homeowners overwhelmingly disgareed with CR in their findings about the stain products
Will the chemicals you use harm my plants and flowers?
Generally speaking this is not a problem, as long as you are using an experienced contractor such as Deck Resurrect. The harshest chemicals used are Sodium Hypochlorite or bleach for some house washing and Sodium Hydroxide for deck washing that has a previous stain or sealer present, commonly known as "stripper" (see explanation below). Some of the detergents actually have nitrogen in them and could therefore be beneficial to green plants they incidentally fall on. However, we usually stand back and mildly spray the plants with water, making sure no chemicals stay on the leaves. We never flood the area with so much chemical that it would affect the root zone of the plants or trees. But the best advice is to remove all potted plants below the target zone before power washing.
What chemicals are being used by Deck Resurrect and why are they needed?
Sodium Hydroxide or stripper is needed to aid in chemically removing oil-based stains off a deck (stripper is not as effective for latex stains). Thus the chemical is doing half of the job and the power washer is doing the other half. Oxygen Bleach is extremely safe for your deck and will not harm it or change its color in anyway. WE DO NOT USE REGULAR BLEACH ON DECKS OR FENCING, as this could damage wood considerably. If a contractor insists that he can strip your deck by power washing without the use of chemicals, or just chemicals without the use of power washing, do NOT hire him; he could possibly destroy your deck. The combination of the proper chemicals and power washing is symbiotic, and is the best approach for cleaning decks and homes. The only exception for stripper are the new latex stains, which are more like paint. Decks that have a latex (water-based) stain should not be stripped completely because this could damage your deck, as greater effort is needed to strip latex; it should just be cleaned. In cleaning the exterior of houses, Sodium Hypochlorite (bleach) is a must because of algae, moss, and mildew. Another rule of thumb is that oil stain prefers to adhere to bare wood, where as latex stains can adhere to wood or previous latex stain without the use of a primer.
I have these small black dots all over my siding. What is it and can it be removed?
These are called artillery fungus spores that launch from their host, typically shredded hardwood mulch, and are attracted to light-colored siding. The first thing to do is get rid of this kind of mulch around the base of your house. You can use pine bark mulch or stone as an alternative. As for removing these spots, they are difficult to remove, yet sometimes it can be done. More power is needed to remove these spores and it can be a job in itself. However, we have had good success with using orbital bits that help in removing these spores. We can't guarantee complete removal unless we are contracted specifically for that purpose.
How long do you wait after power washing a deck before sealing it?
Typically, 2-3 dry (high pressure) days, possibly less if facing south in full sun. If rainy (low pressure) weather comes between washing and sealing, then you obviously need to wait longer. UPDATE**: Some stain manufactures are advertising that their oil based stain can be applied the same day as power-washing deck cleaning, even if the deck is damp.
If I have a deck stain applied to my deck, do I then need to apply a clear sealer over the deck stain?
Most deck stains are also sealers. I have not used a product that was not both a deck stain and sealer combined. However, in further research thier are some exterior stains that are not sealers and therefore need sealing as an added step.
How many coats of stain should a deck get in order to seal properly?
This depends on the manufacturer of the stain. For example, with Olympic, they typically recommend one "thin" coat. However, with solid hide stain, they usually recommend a second coat within hours of the first application. Regardless, we follow all the stain manufacturer's directions.
It is supposed to rain on the day that Deck Resurrect is scheduled to come. Should we postpone the appointment?
This is not necessary, as we can still power wash in the rain. However, if the rain is exceptionally heavy it is best to reschedule. Obviously, no staining can be done if there is a certainty of rain in the forecast.
My husband wants to buy a small consumer power washer and clean our deck and house. What do you think of this investment?
Tell him to save the money and take you out to dinner to a really nice place instead; he would still have money left over to buy some other gimmicky gadget. A homeowner who once bought two small power washers never did power wash his deck like he told his wife he would do. His wife then called us. Regardless, the small washer would not have accomplished the job anyway. Just say to him, "Why add to your honey-do-list? Just hire a contractor to do it"! Additionally, those small home-use power washers typically break, because too much heat transfers from the engine to the pump and eventually the pump cooks (the problem is in how they are typically built). The power washers we use are industrial strength and powerful enough to accomplish the job at hand. On the average, the small home-use washers are not much better than a garden hose. In fact, I would prefer the garden hose.
I live in a town home. Are there any discounts for my smaller-sized deck?
No, sorry :(. Our prices are very competitive, but the reasons for no specific discount are as follows: (1) The space between your deck and your neighbors may be very tight, making it difficult to completely clean the balusters. You are in close proximity to other homes while using chemicals and loud noise. Therefore, the chances of spraying onto your neighbors property or deck with chemicals is greatly increased. (2) You could be scheduling cleaning when one of your neighbors is having a party, or their Aunt Flo is visiting from Minnesota having tea and crumpets out back on their deck. So check your neighbors schedules on both sides of your home. Let them know that a contractor may be pulling behind the house with a truck or van, an activity that could otherwise look suspicious. (3) Town home decks are typically elevated to the first floor from the basement level. Usually there are more stairs involved in a first floor deck from the basement level up, which adds considerably to the surfaces and balusters being cleaned. (4) All of the above scenarios are also true when it comes to applying stain to a deck as well. In some town home communities, the home owner may need to clear the stain color choice with the HOA (Home Owners' Association) before using it. We welcome cleaning town house decks, but in view of the foregoing, not at discounted prices since the job is actually far more challenging than a single family home's bigger deck.
Should I go with an oil stain or an acrylic latex stain for my deck?
Well, this a loaded question and I will explain why. The paint industry has been for years trying to getting away from oil products to comply with lower Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) in order to reduce air pollution. As a result, more acrylic latex products have come forward that have far lesser VOCs, if any at all. The good news for decks applied with latex stain is that you end up with stain products that last longer, are more durable in its performance, and possess better and longer lasting color. Great news, right? With all great ideas there are bugs. First of all, these acrylic latex products are more expensive per gallon. But the biggest problems I find are in its application. In the old days after the deck was power washed, upon the contractor's return it was simple to spray a deck with an oil-based stain. The stain would penetrate deep in to the wood and drip in place since many stains had linseed oil as their base, which is a natural wood conditioner. The job was accomplished in a relatively short period of time for the contractor. The cost for staining a deck to the customer was somewhere in the vicinity of the cost for power washing. However, this changes with acrylic latex stain. Because the thicker, non-penetrating product goes on like paint, this could double, triple, or quadruple the time it takes to apply latex stain to a deck. So essentially, staining your deck today is a "paint job." Even many of the so-called "oil stains" are hybrids of oil and latex or alkyd/acrylic. So in a nutshell, staining is MUCH more expensive today than in the past, though great products have emerged that really protect and beautify your deck. But the need for repeating the process of staining is greatly lessened. If time is a factor for Deck Resurrect, then we will recommend a painter or offer free consultation on how to go about the staining process for your deck. Otherwise, just budget for the higher cost of staining, that it costs more than it used to be when you used oil stain in the past.
What brand stain does Deck Resurrect use or recommend?
An old consistent and easy to acquire favorite are Olympic Deck Stains. Cabot Stain too has been rated number 1 and a top performer by Consumer Reports for years, and likewise we have received similar results with satisfied customers. That being said, I have had Cabot and other manufacturers sometimes switch the formula of their products mid way through the season and this has been disturbing. Subsequently, we will happily use other high end or great quality products such as Sikkens (This is a pricier product for high end decks). We recently used Zar Deck Stain (solid hide) and had fantastic results. Other contractors have raved about Ready Seal and we will be using this product heavily in 2012.
Why have deck stain companies changed their formulas so much?
The following is my professional opinion based on years of experience (this is subject to change, and I welcome professional feedback. Also, See box above: "Excerpts from Consumer Reports on Buying Stain"): Many stains started off as oil based, such as Linseed oil. They were easy to apply, but did not have longevity for wear and tear of brutal sunlight UV rays, or the pigment seemed to fade relatively quick with these stains. Plus these large paint and stain manufacturers have been trying to lower their VOCs with newer EPA standards. Therefore, because of these new stipulations and tightening grip of the EPA, many manufacturers seeked a divorce from oil based products, its long standing mate as it were just as when paint companies made the epic move to remove lead from their formulas. Subsequently, we have been witnessing these same big name companies going with acrylic latex formulas for all of their deck products, including: clear sealer, toners, semi-transparent and solid hide stain.
What has been the result of their product experiment on the consumer and contractor? Well in any divorce and remarriage, if the divorce took place on a whim and not completely on solid grounds, many times the mate who pursued the divorce realizes his first wife had qualities he never quite appreciated until he got his second mate. This is apparent with using acrylic stain for all of its formulas. NOW many of these same manufacturers have been seeking "reconciliation" with at least some oil for their products because an all acrylic base formula has not been working well for their product line except solid stain. I have noticed what had switched over to all latex has now gone back to alkyd or oil base for clear, toner and some semi-transparent. Solid stain seems to be staying latex. Furthermore, using our marriage-divorce analogy, many mfg's are using polygamous experimenting with hybrid formulas products (i use to laugh at this because of Behr Deck Stain did this, but maybe they were on to something all along). So your favorite stain may not be the same product that it was last year! Obviously then, their are benefits of both oil and latex or a good mixture of both in the stains that we use. However, we will keep you posted as to what we feel is working the best for us and you the customer.
Updated last 08-03-12
INSPECT YOUR DECK ! !
Additionally, most town home decks are attached to the house by means of a ledger board of the deck connected to the ban board of the house. As the home owner, you should scrutinize the construction of your deck, especially before you have friends and family on the deck. Some decks have been known to separate from the house because they are not properly anchored at the ledger or ban board, causing great injury to those on the deck. The injuries take place when there are a number of people on the deck during a gathering or party, thus a lot of weight (not a problem if deck is built properly).
Make sure your deck is anchored well to the house before having people on it. Click here to see an enlargement of the deck pictured. A better form of construction is to have beams and posts at the front and back of your deck (thus "free floating"), with the deck being cantilevered no more than two feet out over the beam. As a professionally trained and experienced home inspector, I can also check to see if your deck is properly constructed. I originally became a home inspector because of the amount of poorly constructed and unsafe decks I saw while cleaning them. I was amazed that these decks passed local county inspections (that is, if county permits were pulled in the first place). Typically, the contractor is cutting costs or the carpenter just does not know how to properly construct a deck according to code or national construction standards.
Explanation of Available Sealing Products:
CLEAR SEALER: Gives the full look of bare wood but gradually grays after about two months; protects for about 1-2 years. However, Olympic Maximum Clear preserves the clear look without graying for about 2 years. Clear sealer lacks UV protection but is better than using nothing at all. It might be fine for a deck that faces north or in the woods. Stay away from clear sealer if your deck is facing south in full sun.
TONER: A diluted semi-transparent stain. Wood grain shows through with a hint of color (few choices available); protects for about 2-3 years, longer in shaded areas (NOW typically oil based).
Consumer Reports on Buying Stain
"Don't buy strictly by brand; different products from the same manufacturer often performed differently. What's more, a product that worked well for you last time may not do as well this time, as manufacturers keep reformulating to address cost and performance, and to comply with government safety standards."
Also, the sub article:
When Greener isn't Better
"...manufacturers admit that removing VOCs from wood stains and treatments without reducing performance is a challenge. Although many of the products in our latest test group performed well, none did quite as well as the best in our previous group."
— Consumer Reports, January 2011 on "Wood Stain Buying Guide"
SEMI-TRANSPARENT STAIN: The most popular. It has strong color and UV protection with some wood grain showing through. Newer products will keep their color without drastic fading; protects for about 3-5 years. Cedar and Redwood are popular colors, but there are a variety of other colors and hues, some of which that even imitate the look of driftwood. Popular colors are in ready to use cans, but many colors can be mixed (NOW typically oil based).
SOLID STAIN: Solid hide stain provides complete coverage of the deck in a variety of colors; no grain showing through but has the best UV protection. It also protects for 4-8 years (best protection, it should be used more but not the most popular). Popular colors are in ready to use cans, but many colors can be mixed (NOW typically latex based).
*** STAINS CAN BE OIL OR LATEX, THERE ARE PROS AND CONS OF EACH ***
If you choose clear or toner, the deck needs to be power washed first and may be a good decision to clean the deck regardless of what sealer or stain you decide to use. If you buy stain from one place and run out of stain, do not buy it from another store as many colors are mixed by paint mixers. Slight color variations could occur if you use another paint stores mixer. So use the same paint store for mixed colors to achieve consistency for your job (unless of course they are in ready made cans).