So we made a decision after carefully researching and studying our options. I will try and explain the rationale as to why we made the decision we did. We chose grade 1 treated pine again. Believe me when I say that it was not an easy choice, but then again, it became an easy choice after sitting on it for a bit and doing some more research. We originally wanted to go with Trex or ipe wood. We had a company come out that specialized in decks and used Trex exclusively. I really struggled with how it lacked the appearance I was looking for. Remember, I live in the woods, so I preferred the material to relate to a more natural esthetic, although I have to admit, the reason we were considering it was I wanted lower maintenance. The company owner came, showed us samples, took measurements, and said he would get back to us with an estimate. He did and it was way more than expected, or should have been….like close to $18,000! Reading reviews, I determined that for all the extra money, it was not going to work anyway, especially because delaminating was an issue. There are links at the bottom of this post that were a part of what went into my thought process. I contacted 3 more contractors, two of which specialized in decks. One never showed, one came and never sent the estimate, and the third came on a recommendation, and ended up doing the work for what I pretty much estimated would be the cost. This is not a complicated job as decks go, pretty straight forward. The ipe would have been twice as much, lasted almost forever, but left naturally, the gorgeous dark beginning color weathers to a silver gray unless you stain and maintain, although I have since learned that a simple application of UV protector will retain the original color. Installation cost of ipe is also a bit more because it is an “ironwood” from the tropics and it goes through drill bits like crazy.
We were fairly lucky once the work started. We had had weeks of solid rain this spring that prevented them from starting. When the sun came out, it remained very warm and dry. In fact we had little rain all summer. The lumber arrived fairly dry as well. The reason we decided on top screwing in rather than from the side is, if you ever have to remove a board, which we did several times on the old deck, removing and replacing becomes a bit more complicated. You cannot remove just the one board, you have to remove more to get to the one board. This is especially true if you use fasteners. Also, we found that tree leaves and stems, which tend to often get stuck in the side seams, do even more so with fasteners.
So after the deck was done, we had to wait for the wood to dry out. It is best to wait until the moisture level is less than 20%. The dryer the better. We used a moisture meter to check it after several months, and although large parts were ready for stain, some areas were not. We were having another record breaking hot summer and hardly any rain, so we waited until October when the moisture meter finally said “GO!”, and it was cool enough to apply stain. We were getting readings consistently at 10%, at most a few at 15%. We were in a window of tolerably warm weather (must be applied under 90 degrees), and the leaves were not coming off the trees such that they would make a good stain job more difficult. I had used the time during the summer to do a lot of reading about stains in professional forums, and phone calls to technical support. Here is how I went about making my choice of stain color, type of stain, and brand. These are strictly my own observations, opinions, etc. There is no sponsorship at all.
I was originally going to go with Cabot stain, as my experience had been good with it years ago in another house that had cedar siding. It held up extremely well. They had a new product out, yet none of their paint stores or dealers carried it! So I called them direct, and no they could not ship, and no they had no samples. I was not going to go ahead without knowing what the stain looked like on my deck wood. The oil stain brand that I had originally used on the deck that did quite well, but was no longer available. I used Consumer reports to read stain reviews, and many other reviews, including on Amazon. Yes, they sell stains. The problem with many reviews is that they only review things relevant to the immediate. Most do not come back in several years to say how the stain is still working. I eventually found this site called deck product reviews, and they rate stains, then update over the years. I also found professional painters reviews, and decided on TWP. It is an oil based stain, can be shipped and is legal in my part of Virginia. They had samples for a nominal cost, and that cost is then deducted against the purchase of the stain. They also have VOC compliant stains for those states that prohibit the full oil. They were prompt in sending out the 4 stain samples. I made a sample board out of leftover deck boards and the choice came down to two. I finally picked Pecan, less yellow than the “wet” look above. I called the company to order, and even though our deck was new wood, aged 6 months, to prepare it to “take” the stain, it still had to be cleaned and conditioned in order for the stain to soak into the wood and therefore maximize the protection. Ugh. More work. So I ordered the stain, cleaner and conditioner. I learned that it was not just a sales pitch. Preparing the deck for a finish is the most important step.
I have already enjoyed a few cups of tea out here. It remains to be seen now how well the deck holds up over the winter. We have had so little rain, and that allowed the stain to really cure, and to do so without any foot traffic. In the spring there will be a cabana or pergola at the far end, and some other additions, including, I hope, some additional all weather wicker furniture. I think the color of the wicker rocker really lends itself to the new look. I will also put down some outdoor rugs, and some additional lighting, as well as some flower pots and hanging baskets. Will share all that come spring time. All in all, I think this deck is a vast improvement from the previous. The original lasted a good 12 years in good shape, then another couple until enough was enough. Links below for additional info. Thanks for stopping by. laters, charisse
Summary: *preparation is about the most important thing you can do to insure good and lasting protection. Some body reviews about paint and stain failures I am convinced were because they did not do the absolutely necessary steps to prepare the deck for new stain or paint.
* screws vs nails….screws win. Use the correct ones, coated to vastly increase corrosion protection vs galvanized.
* get several estimates and specify every single expectation so there are no misunderstandings. Our installer came to us on a recommendation, he did the job as promised and we ended up having him do a couple other projects we couldn’t handle by ourselves because of time.
*stain…..latex vs oil. For me, oil.
* use a moisture meter on your boards to determine when they are dry enough.
*do your homework. It will pay off in the long run. The internet can be full of misinformation, so search multiple forums and informational sites.