- Does Deck Resurrect power wash houses too?
- What can the homeowner do in preparation for power washing?
- My deck is newly built (within a year). 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 deck stain is applied to my deck, 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 we 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. Are their any discounts for our smaller size decks?
- Should I go with an oil stain or an acrylic latex stain for my deck?
- What are the differences between Clear, Toner, Semi-Transparent and Solid Hide Stains?
- What brand of stain does Deck Resurrect use or recommend?
- Why have deck stain companies changed their formulas so much?
DeckResurrect FAQ © 2007-2014
Does Deck Resurrect power wash houses too?
What can the homeowner do in preparation for power washing?
Absolutely! See point (4) for explanation.
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.
- HOUSE POWER WASHING: 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, or remove them completely). Secure anything around your house that is loose. REMEMBER, DeckResurrect is not liable for anything on your house that is loose that should not be (i.e.: soffit, siding, lamps, trim, fascia, window screens, paint, cable connections, etc.).
- DECK CLEANING & POWER WASHING: 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 or stained.
- REO PROPERTIES: For or Real Estate Owned (REO) or 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.
your favorite stain may not be the same product that it was last year!
My deck is newly built (within a year). Is it necessary to have it power washed before sealing or staining it?
Short answer–Yes. Why?–There is apparently what is called “mill glaze” during planing of the wood decking components that causes some wood to not receive a stain well. So this alone is sound reason to power wash the deck to prepare wood to able to receive stain. Additionally, new wood becomes dirty at or during construction time. It also depends on the amount of sun exposure, dirt and pollution the deck has had, and also the direction the deck is facing (is it in the woods, etc?). 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 there 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. However, the exterior of the houses get marred from dirt, pollen, algae, moss, mildew, construction and farming dust. Insects thrive here as well. But nevertheless we kept the name, because it is kind of cool!
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 strongest 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. Nevertheless, we typically spray the plants with water before, during and after a job, making sure no chemicals stay on the leaves. We never flood the area with so much chemical that it would have an adverse affect on 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?
Detergents and products will vary at times, but the key ingredients being used are: 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 washing is doing the other half. Sodium Per-carbonate (or Oxygen bleach) is extremely safe for your deck and will not harm it or change its color in any way. WE DO NOT USE REGULAR BLEACH ON DECKS OR FENCING, as this could damage wood considerably.
NOTE: 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 appropriate cleaning chemicals and power washing is symbiotic, and is the best approach for cleaning decks and homes. The only exceptions for strippers 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 (or even hybrid stains) prefers to adhere to bare wood, whereas 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 if siding was just fired upon. But just like barnacle glue, it may be impossible to remove completely.
The combination of the appropriate cleaning chemicals and power washing is symbiotic and is the best approach for cleaning decks and homes
How long do you wait after power washing a deck before sealing it?
Typically, 2-3 dry or 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 deck stain is applied to my deck, do I then need to apply a clear sealer over the deck stain?
Most deck stains are also sealers. We have not used a product that was not both a deck stain and sealer combined. However, in further research there 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 and by default, WE FOLLOW THE STAIN MANUFACTURER’S DIRECTIONS FOR APPLICATION. It should be noted, that applying solid stain (typically 2 coats) is no different than getting a paint job from a pro painting company. It’s a similar latex product except there is no priming of the wood. You should budget your project accordingly if you desire solid stain.
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 a deck or house in light rain. However, if the rain is expected to be exceptionally heavy or thunderstorms are also forecasted, 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 with strong pressure.
Our first industrial power washer lasted 21 years being used part time, and we finally retired it when the pump gave out for the second time.
I live in a townhome. 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:
- 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.
- 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 or with his equipment, an activity that could otherwise look suspicious.
- Townhome 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.
- All of the above scenarios are also true when it comes to applying stain to a deck as well. In some townhome communities, the home owner may need to clear the stain color choice with the HOA (Home Owners’ Association) before using it. We welcome cleaning townhome 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.
INSPECT YOUR DECK ! !
Additionally, most townhome 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 homeowner, you should scrutinize the construction of your deck, especially before you have friends and family on it. 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. (SEE GALLERY OF NEW DECK CONSTRUCTION)
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”
Should I go with an oil stain or an acrylic latex stain for my deck?
Well, this a loaded question and we 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? Well, with all great ideas there are bugs. First of all, these acrylic latex products are more expensive per gallon. But the biggest problems we 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 in labor and material 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 DeckResurrect, then we will recommend a painter or offer a free consultation on how to go about the staining process for your deck. Otherwise, just budget for the higher cost of staining, knowing that it costs more than it used to when you used an oil-based stain in the past.
Explanation of Available Sealing Products:
What are the differences between Clear, Toner, Semi-Transparent, & Solid Hide Stains?
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).
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 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 (since it’s the best protection it should be used more, but it’s 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, LATEX, OR A HYBRID OF BOTH. THERE ARE PROS AND CONS OF EACH ***
If you choose clear or toner, the deck needs to be power washed first, and it 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 store’s 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).
What brand of stain does DeckResurrect use or recommend?
An old consistent and easy-to-acquire favorite are Olympic Deck Stains. Cabot Stain too has been rated #1 and is a top performer by Consumer Reports for years. likewise we have received similar results with satisfied customers. That being said, we have had Cabot and other manufacturers sometimes switch the formula of their products midway through the season and this has been disturbing. Subsequently, we will happily use other high-end or great quality products such as Sikkens (A pricier product for high end decks). We recently used Zar Deck Stain (solid hide) and had fantastic results. We have used Ready Seal, which is similar to the old Olympic Toner with its heavy use of Linseed oil. Mostly organic stains have their own problems in that they feed algae and mildew due to their organic nature. This is a time when a mostly synthetic stain or hybrid is the best choice. Algae, lichen and mildew cant feed on synthetic stains. Flood Stain has outstanding results as well. The more recent Behr stain performed quite well but we whole-heartedly disagree with 2011 Consumer Reports on Behr stains prior to their 2013 product, saying it was the best. Many consumers and contractors disagreed with CR that Behr was the best product from the 2011 findings. Likewise the new Olympic Solid and Semi-Transparent stains are outstanding performers, much better than the product of 2012 and further back
DeckResurrect uses only premium products for your deck
Why have deck stain companies changed their formulas so much?
The following is our 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 quickly with these stains. Also, the heavy use of an organic oil base made it easy for algae, moss, lichen, and mildew to grow on theses decks. Thus manufacturers were seeking synthetic formulas that were not food-like as organic base products that turned decks green and black prematurely. 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 sought 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 stains.
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/latex base 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. We 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 remain as latex. Furthermore, using our marriage-divorce analogy, many mfg’s are using polygamous experimenting with hybrid formulas products. So your favorite stain may not be the same product that it was last year! Obviously then, there 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 02-24-14