Dog Claw Marks in Wood Deck
LESLIE: Now we’re going to Kansas where Rob is working on a deck.
Rob, tell us exactly what’s going on with this deck?
ROB: Well, I have a wood deck on the back of my house. It’s stained and I also have a four-year-old black lab who’s still kind of hyper. (Tom and Leslie chuckle) So I open the back door to let the dog run around the yard and she tears off and you can tell that she’s gouging the wood a little bit.
LESLIE: So it’s not so much just the stain being washed away but you can see her claw marks in the wood itself.
ROB: Pretty much, yeah. You can see that it’s a little lighter where her claws are going. It’s almost a yellowish where the stain is red.
TOM: Now this is a wood deck, Rob? It’s not a composite deck?
ROB: That’s correct?
TOM: It’s the decking boards or the railing boards or what?
ROB: The decking boards.
TOM: Are they square on the ends?
ROB: They’re rounded, actually.
TOM: Hmm, that makes it a little tricky.
You know what I was going to suggest, Leslie? He could take those off and flip it upside down and put them back down again. But if one side’s round and one side’s square, then that’s a little trickier because it may not fit. If it’s a square edge on both ends, then you could simply take it off, flip it upside down. You may have to do some touchup of the stain but you’ll basically have wood that’s the same age and should hold stain the same way and it should look pretty good.
Has this deck been stained already?
ROB: I haven’t restained it yet. No, I was going to sand it all down or power wash it and restain it. But is there a way to toughen it up a little?
TOM: Not really. You know, the Douglas fir or the hem-fir decking material is always a soft wood and it doesn’t really get any harder. I mean there are other hardwoods out that they make decks out of that are gorgeous but now we’re talking about a major reconstruction. You know, something like Ipe is pretty hot right now but it’s a lot of money.
LESLIE: Well, you’re going to have to sand it down to even get it to a surface where you can restain and get rid of those claw gouges themselves. So you might get a little bit of discoloration and I think if you put any sort of poly or something on top of it, number one, it’s not going to withstand the elements; but number two, it might draw attention to that there is that slight color discoloration.
TOM: Something else you could do, Rob, is you could actually stain that and you could use a solid-color stain. There’s two advantages to that: number one, you’ll seal in the deck, which will make it stand up better to the weather; and number two, if you do get damage on it from an animal or from just foot traffic or dragging chairs across it, you can always touch it up. When you buy exterior stain, it comes in clear, semi-transparent, and solid color. And if you use solid color, it has the most pigment in it of all three and it really does a great job.
ROB: That sounds great. I think I will try that then.
TOM: Alright, Rob. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.