Seal a Cracking Wood Deck
Joe in New York is looking to get outdoors and enjoy a new deck. How can we help you?
JOE: Oh, hi! Hi, Leslie. Tom, how are you doing?
TOM: Terrific! What’s cooking?
JOE: OK. I built a deck about eight years ago; a pressure-treated deck.
TOM and LESLIE: OK.
JOE: In my backyard. And each year I would treat it with like a Thompson water seal. And after like the third or fourth year I noticed the deck – the wood itself was – had excessive cracking in the grains of the wood.
JOE: And I was told that was called checking.
JOE: And I tried to treat it, you know, for another year after that and I just couldn’t get it to stop. And I had a representative come over and look at it, from where I bought the lumber, but the store had gone out of business. So I couldn’t make any claim on it. And he told me that the wood itself, it wasn’t properly treated for the proper length of time under pressure.
TOM: That sounds like a lot of speculation, Joe. The bottom line is that wood is always going to crack and it’s always going to check. And even though it’s pressure treated, that stops the wood from rotting. It does not stop the wood from cracking.
TOM: That checking and that cracking is normal wear and tear for lumber. That’s what happens. Now, for the most part it doesn’t affect the structural integrity of it …
LESLIE: But it affects the cosmetics issue of it and it can be …
TOM: Yeah. Exactly.
JOE: It looks very, very, you know, like somebody would take a knife and just score it.
TOM: Yeah. You might be happier if you stopped clear coating it and put a stain on it.
LESLIE: Well and also I think what you need to do at this point is strip the finish off. Whatever clear coat you have on there from all those years of just putting new – you know, new on top of old and you’re probably not getting the best adhesion, you want to use a chemical stripper – and I say get it down to the bare wood or as close to it as you can …
JOE: What about pressure-treating it off with some kind of chemical cleaner?
TOM: Well, you need a combination of chemical cleaner and some muscle. But what Leslie is suggesting is that you use a stripper because with all …
LESLIE: Which will do the work for you.
TOM: Right, exactly.
LESLIE: And then …
JOE: But the deck is – the deck is rather large. It’s 36 feet by like 40.
LESLIE: Well …
TOM: Home improvements aren’t all simple, Joe. (chuckling)
LESLIE: Yeah, I mean this is going to be a project that’s going to take some time because you can’t do everything in one day and things need time to work and dry in between. But I would say use a chemical stripper. Flood makes a great line of products that are really effective. And take off all the finish that you can …
LESLIE: … and then once you see what that raw lumber looks like, you know, really assess then how it looks. There’s a lot of different options as far as solid stains or semi-transparents or even translucent stains. And a lot of them – especially the ones from Flood – are treated with a UV resistancy …
JOE: Oh …
LESLIE: … so that once you choose whether you want the solid stain – and if the lumber’s not looking so great, go with a solid stain and just choose a color that’s either natural or works with your color scheme or the siding or your shutters. Choose – there’s 60-something choices so pick something that works well for your décor and then get one that has a UV rating in it which is going to resist blistering and peeling and checking …
JOE: [It’s in the] (ph) sun quite a bit, you know.
LESLIE: Exactly. And then every year what you want to do is instead of putting a clear coat on top of it you want to use a cleanser and not just water to clean the deck surface and get rid of all the residue and the deposits that have been there all winter.
JOE: Because I put a lot of effort into building this gigantic deck. (chuckling)
LESLIE: So you want to love it.
TOM: Yeah, and now you want to protect it so that you can enjoy it for a long time.
JOE: Right, right. Oh, I appreciate your advice on this. Thank you very much.
TOM: You’re welcome, Joe. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.