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Help! Deck Stain Failure

19719 Views 4 Replies 3 Participants Last post by  bkline
I am in Northern California and have been out of the painting business since last spring due the the economy. I have always made every effort to deal with my clients fairly and I think at times went above and beyond. Recently a client whose deck I stained last summer said it was failing. When I asked in what way he said it was peeling. I was taken back a bit when he told me. His deck had never been stained or painted before, we pressure washed, used a cleaner, conditioner and then a brightner. We then used SW Deckscapes latex stain which I have used before with not incidents.

He is pressuring me to do something about it now and I told him there is no way I will put a band aid on in the winter particularly when he lives right on a river. I know he is a bit peeved but I am not doing the work twice.

I am interested if anyone has any ideas what may be going on and when I correct it what can I do to try to eliminate the possibility of it happening again.
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Just a few possibilities here. Was the wood very dry when you stained it? Did you coat the underside of the deck? What type of wood was it? How old was the deck when you did it? These are all things we would like info on and should be taken into consideration.
Too much acidity for waterborne product?

A few years back we had two roof top decks to refinish, one was about 8000 sq. ft, and the other 500 sq. feet. The previous stain was Sherwin-Williams DeckScapes oil based toner. The product was about five years old, and was badly warn, deteriorated, and dirty. Our Job Scope included stripping the current product, brightening, and staining with DeckScapes oil based toner in Redwood. I had a short window of opportunity to get this job done as it would be needed for a large gathering for the 4th of July. Unfortunately, SW did not have enough of the new product in the area in Redwood to do the job in time. It was recommended to change to DeckScapes Semi-transparent waterborne product, and was sold based on saving time, added pigment, and other benefits over oil-based products (prep and stain same day, dry to touch in 1 hour....). We stripped, brightened, stain prepped (pH condition, Mill Glaze...), and stained. The weather was nice, and the wood had a moisture content well within the product specifications. It looked great, and was completed ahead of schedule. Two days later it rained lightly for several days. I returned to the site to bid another job, and witnessed puddles of water turning orange after being soaked for about 20 minutes. Upon closer inspection, I noticed that the orange areas easily lifted off if stepped on. The odd thing was, once dry, the finish would return to a solid and nice looking state as long as it was not damaged while wet. Several paint representatives suggested that the surfaces needed to dry a minimum of 72 hours after staining before use, perhaps even 30 days. That’s not going to happen on a community sun deck, and that is not what is advertised for this waterborne product. Needless to say, we stripped and prepared the deck again, and refinished with the original specified oil-based product. It looks great, and has held up well considering normal wear, oxidation, etc. We did not use SW products for preparation as there was not enough Revive in stock anywhere in the state. Instead, we used Napier's Bio-Wash StripeX to strip, Simple Wash to brighten, Stain Prep to condition. The representative from Napier agreed that this should not of happened, and conveyed we did a good job. We frequently use Bio-Wash products without issue. One of the communities we painted this past summer had 72 decks we stripped and stained, another project had 21 decks, and a few residential decks. All of them were stained using an oil based products, no issues. 5000' of fence cleaned and stained with SuperDeck toner by Duckback Products, no issues. The only waterborne products I have good experience with is Flood or SuperDeck Solid Siding and Decking Stain for decks and fences, and Sherwin-Williams Woodscapes for siding, and WoodScapes or Cabots for shake siding.

The bottom line is I can't help thinking that the pH balance was not corrected enough to support DeckScape waterborne products. I am also confused as to why the product allowed water penetration (areas of orange) causing loss of adhesion days after the application. SW does not have an answer, and they really got involved as this was a national account. If the specified finish is to be clear, toner, or semi-transparent on a cedar deck surface, I use an oil based product.
We did not coat the underside of the deck. It is next to water but we did do the work in the summer and it was dry, hot and windy. Any feedback regarding this info would be helpful.

Who know's maybe by next summer the whole deck may have failed and it may be easier just to redo the entire surface with an oil based product. It was a very old deck that had never been treated in any manner.
old wood

Since you are dealing with stain, it is not necessry to coat all surfaces. Stain is breathable, and is meant to penetrate the wood. Paint on the otherhand should coat all sides if used in that application, especially an oil based paint product. It needs to be sealed off for decks and fences. That is one reason we see a lot of paint blistering on old homes. Moisture issues from leaks in the top coat, or from indoors, insufficient ventilation. Here we often refinish old homes with repeated peeling issues with solid stain (ie. Woodscapes, etc.). I could be wrong, however. You did mention that the deck was very old, never finished. That makes me wonder if the wood fibers or substraight, is decomposed to the point that it can no longer support top coats. As the product dries, it may be pulling on the loose fibers, and lifting. Check the under side of the peel stain, there may be some loose wood fibers attached. If so, it may require rough sanding. The deck I talked about was built over the waterproof roofing of the building, and used drains for water run off, big swimming pool. So most likely it had sitting puddles of water underneath while staining. According to the specifications it can be applied to a damp surface, up to 25% content. You applied the product when it was hot and windy, so I'm sure the wood was under 25%. I have discussed my situation with my Rodda, Parker, and Sherwin-Williams representatives. Both my Rodda and Parker rep's commented that these new waterborne stains are best when used on new unfinished wood, otherwise they can be a problem. One also mentioned that because of the EPA, paint manufacture's are all in a rush to replace oil based products, and they need to sell, sell, sell the new stuff. It may be too soon, and further developement needed to produce a really good product. They will tell you it is good, they have to. Perhaps you can get your territorial rep to take a look. In my case, SW paid me to replace the waterborne stain with an old base product. They have not pushed that product on me since. It will be a while before I give waterborne Deckscapes another shot, too risky. Although I hate oily rags, and empty cans/buckets of oil based stain.
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