For the first time since 1888, the first day of Hanukkah falls on Thanksgiving Day, November 28 this year, and it won’t happen again for some 7000 years to come! For many of our non-Jewish friends, Christmas arrives less than a month later. With all the festivities planned, and guests coming to our homes, what could look nicer than a newly refinished deck…other than a dinner table filled with latkes, turkey and all the trimmings for Thanksgivikuh?
Roxy and I just refinished our deck, and with wonderful results.
About six years ago contractors removed our ailing Douglass Fir deck and replaced it with a brand new, redwood deck replete with Craftsman style spindles and posts, then refinished with a semi-transparent stain that, quite frankly only lasted a couple of seasons before it began to show signs of wear and tear from the elements. In the old days – pre 1978 - paints and stains contained an array of chemicals that The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) soon forced paint manufacturers to eliminate from their products ….. all the lead and VOCs ….those nasty chemicals that contributed to creating incredibly durable paint that dried like iron and could last for years, even decades. With all the talk and concern about the effect of VOC’s on our health and the environment, I never actually knew what those ominous letters stood for. Here’s Wikipedia’s opening explanation of Volatile Organic Compounds:
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are organic chemicals that have a high vapor pressure at ordinary, room-temperature conditions. Their high vapor pressure results from a low boiling point, which causes large numbers of molecules to evaporate or sublimate from the liquid or solid form of the compound and enter the surrounding air. An example is formaldehyde, with a boiling point of –19 °C (–2 °F), slowly exiting paint and getting into the air.
VOCs are numerous, varied, and ubiquitous. They include both human-made and naturally occurring chemical compounds. Most scents or odours are of VOCs. VOCs play an important role in communication between plants. Some VOCs are dangerous to human health or cause harm to the environment. Anthropogenic VOCs are regulated by law, especially indoors, where concentrations are the highest. Harmful VOCs are typically not acutely toxic, but instead have compounding long-term health effects. Because the concentrations are usually low and the symptoms slow to develop, research into VOCs and their effects is difficult. See the link below to read more about VOCs.
Read further: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volatile_organic_compound
That’s why when entering some of these older, antique houses you still see the original (lead) paint on the walls and ceilings…totally legal to have as long as you don’t disturb it. In most parts of The United States, if you DO want to sand, repair, demolish any of these surfaces, it’s important to hire specially licensed contractors to do the work. Of course you can take the required courses and do it yourself. Whatever your choice, it’s important to take this work seriously. Two big concerns are the existence of lead and asbestos in homes built before 1978. The lead occurs mostly in the paint; asbestos occurs in many of the other building products.
The same applies to refinishing areas on the exterior of your home, including older decks. Fortunately, since our deck was built in 2007 and stained with a water- based, “green” product, all we needed to do was sand and clean the deck of the old stain before applying the new. Since the passage of the more stringent laws regarding air pollution to include “unsafe” paints and solvents; companies like Behr, Dunn - Edwards, Benjamin Moore, Sherwin Williams, Pittsburgh, Olympic and so many others have been developing low or zero VOC “green” products, water and oil-based, that are environmentally safe. Here’s a great article from Old House Journal entitled “The Changing Landscape for Household Paints.”
In choosing a stain, I wanted a water-based – hard to find good, oil-based paint anymore that performs like yesteryear, so why bother? - semi-transparent product that would apply easily, promise durability, and allow the grain of the redwood to show through. I chose Behr Semi-Transparent Wood Stain, guaranteed for three years on the deck and five years on fencing. I’ve used Behr products inside the house as well, including their excellent bathroom paint with mold inhibitor that still looks great in the downstairs bath after five years.
Here’s how we did it. (Be sure to view our video. It always provides a useful complement to my blog descriptions.)
Here are the tools, equipment and materials you’ll need to do the job:
TOOLS, EQUIPMENT AND MATERIALS:
Goggles, dust mask, knee pads, heavy work gloves, latex paint gloves, optional painters hat, optional old socks, broom, garden hose, garden sprayer, sweeper nozzle or power washer; vibrator sander, belt or random orbital sander; sandpaper 60-100 grit (will vary depending upon condition of wood), deck cleaner; clean, empty 5 gallon bucket, small paint tray, painter’s roller screen, short/long mixing stick, stain – choose either transparent or semi-transparent to see all or some of the grain….or opaque deck paint for complete coverage, paint roller, paint roller cover (semi-smooth – ¼” or 3/8”), and extension pole – OR, you may wish to apply with paint or garden sprayer; paint brushes, and rags.
The good thing about using a sprayer is that you can get better coverage in the cracks between the boards. However, you have to cover non-designated areas (adjacent to the deck) to protect from overspray. I like rollers for a smoother finish. If you are a stickler for detail, find a way to integrate both.
Begin by sweeping your deck. Since there is fencing around ours, we sanded that first and we did it by hand to get even results. After sweeping and sanding the fencing, power wash your deck for a deep cleaning and to remove any loose, old stain or paint. For stubborn stain areas that won’t lift with the power washing, we applied a deck cleaner with our garden sprayer, let it set about ten minutes, then power washed again. Be sure to clean the cracks between the boards. We used a sweeper nozzle, which attaches right to any garden hose. If you get the right one and you have sufficient water pressure, you probably don’t need to buy a power washer, which can cost well over $200.
Put on dust mask and goggles. Although I didn’t use a random orbital sander because of the uneven nature of our deck, it’s recommended if your deck is relatively even and boards are not warped. Check your local tool rental stores. Here in Hollywood, California, Anawalt Lumber on Highland Avenue is a good source. I chose a vibrator sander. It’s more work intensive, but I was better able to get the results I wanted. Put on those kneepads if using any kind of hand sander. After sanding, I swept again and did a quick power wash. CAUTION: Too much water on bare wood could lift the grain a bit. Sweep off any puddling areas immediately. A few sanding touch-ups by hand, and we were ready to apply the stain.
STAINING: (I took off my shoes and painted in old socks.) Prepare your paint roller, cover and extension pole ahead of time. Once your deck is clean, be prepared to stain ASAP before leaves, dust dirt, etc. begin to compromise the surface. Open your container of stain on a surface next to the deck, if possible to avoid the possibility of getting a round mark on the unfinished wood. After stirring sufficiently, fill a small paint container - watch video - and with your paintbrush – 2” China bristle is fine – “cut-in” around the edges and other areas where the roller might not reach. Cutting in is simply painting the edges and any other area where the roller won’t reach. Once you’ve finished cutting in, pour a liberal amount into the large, clean, empty bucket. I did bring that bucket up on the deck, although many will say try to avoid it. It was no problem. You are now ready to roll the deck. The video shows you all you need to know. Be sure to apply two coats unless directions – ALWAYS READ DIRECTIONS – indicate otherwise. ..and begin painting the areas furthest from the entrance to the deck first. You don’t want to paint yourself into a corner!
Good luck. Now’s a good time to do this project, especially out here in the Western States. Back East and in other parts of the world, check the weather forecast before beginning the process. Let me know how it turns out. And remember…Tikkun Olam (“Repair of the World”) starts at home. You CAN fix it! HH