LESLIE: Jim in California is getting ready to enjoy his deck. What can we do for you?
Staining Wood Porch Railings
JIM: I have a railing on my deck; it’s about – I guess it’s 2×6-inch railing all around the deck and it’s in the sun a great deal of the time. I sanded it and primed it and painted it two years ago and now it needs it again. So I’m sanding and I’m sanding it and I’m wondering do I have to take it down to the bare wood or can I just smooth it out and paint over some of the primer and some of the finish coat.
TOM: What’s it doing now? Is it peeling?
LESLIE: And are you using paint or are you using a solid stain?
JIM: I’m using a primer/sealer and then a trim paint which is outdoor – exterior latex paint.
TOM: (overlapping voices) OK.
JIM: But I’ve been told that there’s something called a deck stain which is really a paint more than a transparent stain …
TOM: OK, what you’re talking about here is something called solid-color stain but the problem is that, now that you’ve painted this railing, you’re not going to get the result that you want out of this because you really need to have unpainted wood for this to work. Solid-color stain – see, wood stain comes solid color or semi-transparent or clear. Clear has no pigment to it; semi-transparent has about half the density and solid-color means just that – it’s consistent in color but you can still see the grain.
TOM: And that’s what we typically recommend for siding and decking. In your case, you’ve already painted it, so we’re beyond that. What I would suggest you do is to scrape and prime and sand to get all the loose stuff off; then I would put another primer coat on top of that. I would use an oil-based primer – not a latex primer – like KILZ or Bin or something like that and then I would paint over that. That’s the best way to get good adhesion and to get a good surface that will hold the new paint.