In this episode, Betsy and Dan spend some time discussing one of the greatest time-saving tools available for decks right now: an OnFloor Machine. And while that may not sound exciting . . . you’re going to want to give this episode a listen. Once you understand what this machine is and what it will do, you’ll see how easy it is to shave DAYS off your next deck project…
What is an OnFloor Machine Exactly? (1:00)
Benefit 1: Clean and Stain Your Deck in a Single Day! (6:06)
Benefit 2: End Results Will Be Better than Cleaning with Chemicals (3:33)
Benefit 3: Raised Nails? Uneven Boards? No Problem! (6:37)
Benefit 4: The OnFloor Machine is So Easy to Use! (16:00)
Benefit 5: When Used with the Vacuum System, There’s No Mess! (22:31)
RepcoLite Rental Information: (26:12)
Save Money Versus Using Chemical Cleaners (28:37)
Best of All, the Machine “Just Works!” (31:31)
Our LadderTalk Interview with Travis McCutchen from OnFloor Technologies!
In the episode we mentioned LadderTalk, a new podcast we started that’s geared specifically towards professional painting contractors. Our first episode involved an interview with Travis McCutchen from OnFloor Technologies and it was so interesting and informative, we figured we’d make it available to anyone looking for more information about this machine and why it’s so valuable. Check it out!
When it comes to applying stain or sealer to your deck, there are a wide variety of tools and applicators available. But which tools work the best? Which ones do the job quicker than anything else?
Success on a deck project–as well as your overall experience–depends largely on the tools you use to apply the stain. Using the wrong tools can make the job more grueling than it needs to be. They can slow you down and prevent you from getting the stain on quickly and evenly. This can affect not just your experience, but also the quality and durability of the finished job. So, finding the right tools is important.
Well, last year, we filmed a review video where we tested out most of the various application tools and techniques that we’ve ever heard discussed at RepcoLite. Some of these were recommended by employees and others are the “favorite” methods of some of our customers. Either way, we put all of these methods to the test and discovered very quickly that some of them are much better than others.
Here are our top 3 recommendations:
METHOD 1: Roller and Brush
In our tests, we found that the fastest way to apply the stain evenly and quickly was to roll it on with a standard, 9″ roller with a 3/8″ nap and then back-brush it using a Wooster Bravo Stain Brush. If you’re going to use this application method (and it’s the best!), make sure you pick up 1 or 2 extension poles. You can attach the roller to the pole and apply your stain to the deck without leaving your feet. And, that’s why we recommend that particular Wooster stain brush–you can unscrew the handle and instead thread the brush onto the end of an extension pole. So you’ll be able to back-brush your deck from a standing position as well. Which is, (though I don’t have to say it), awesome.
Now, when we tested this method, we found it to be the fastest and easiest way to apply a smooth, even coat of stain to your deck. There are other faster ways (but they’re not as easy). And there are other easier ways (but they’re not as fast.) This method provides, in our opinion, the best balance between ease and speed. However, it’s important to note that the back-brushing step is of paramount importance! And typically will require a second person (helpers are always helpful!). The reason it’s important is because the roller alone will apply the product too heavily which can lead to all sorts of problems. Back-brushing spreads the stain evenly, helps you get it into the gaps between the boards, and works into deep into the fibers of the wood. It’s a critical step to producing a beautiful deck. So don’t skip it! (And don’t, for your own sake, buy any brush other than the Wooster Bravo–you’ll thank us later. We promise!)
METHOD 2: Padco Paint and Stain Pad
Alright, in our testing, there was a second method that we really liked as well: a Padco paint and stain pad. You can see it in the picture here, but just to clarify, it’s a six-inch pad with a handle that can be threaded onto an extension pole. The pad itself is a sponge with a bristled face.
We found this tool to work very quickly and because the face of the sponge is bristled, it does not require back-brushing. It was as fast or faster than the roller and back-brushing method, but, there are two reasons we rated it second. First, it is not nearly as easy to stain the gaps between the deck boards when using this pad. It works and can be done by turning the pad on it’s side, but it’s much easier to do so with the brush. Second, and more importantly in our consideration, the pad works best when the deck boards are in very good condition. If you have boards that are splintered, uneven, or rough, the pad doesn’t perform as well. It’s too rigid to conform to boards that have cupped over time (and you end up with spots that get no stain). It’s also a sponge pad that can be easily snagged and torn apart by boards with splintered edges.
If you’re staining a new deck or a deck that’s in great shape, this is a very fast tool that you won’t be sorry you purchased. If the boards are less than ideal, definitely opt for the roller and brush combo we mentioned above!
METHOD 3: Garden Sprayer and Brush
A third method we tested (and really liked) was the garden sprayer/brush combination. Basically, we took a conventional garden pump-up sprayer and used that to apply our stain to the deck. Now, a couple of clarifications. First, this only works for transparent or translucent stains–sprayers like this are not designed to spray stains with too much pigment. Second, this method can be… will be… messy! So, watch out for overspray on your siding, on your house, on your feet, and so on!
However, if you can take care of all of those issues, then this is a tremendously fast method for applying stain to your deck. Just remember that as was the case with the roller, the stain still needs to be backbrushed to work it into the wood.
And there you go! RepcoLite’s top 3 methods for applying stain to your deck. And if you’d like to check out our full review (and first video–so be kind to the dopes on camera), we’ve conveniently placed it just below this sentence!
“We just bought a new house and the deck looks terrible! It’s gray and faded. How do we get it ready for a new coat of stain?”
This is a question we hear all the time–in one form or another. Sometimes, it’s about a deck that’s never been stained or protected. Other times it’s about a deck that has been stained, but so long ago that you can barely tell.
In either situation, people are concerned about how to get the deck looking good again. Some even wonder if they can.
Well, the good news is that yes, in most cases, you can completely revitalize your old deck. It’s just a matter of knowing the right steps and using the right products.
So, here’s the scoop:
Step 1: Check for Rotten Boards
The first step in any deck project is easy: look at your deck. Very carefully. Check the wood over. If it’s rotting, splintered, falling apart, or full of knot holes you’ll have to ask yourself a tough question: is it even worth trying to save this?
Stains will protect your wood and give it some water repellancy, but they won’t turn something that’s rotten into something that’s sound! The hard truth is that some decks just aren’t worth trying to save. It’s better and more expedient just to start over.
So check your boards over. If some need to be replaced, do it. If more need to be replaced than not, then consider building a new deck.
Step 2: Sweep it Off
Once you’ve looked it over and either have replaced the boards that needed it or decided that the deck is sound (even though it’s currently gray and ugly!), then it’s time for step 2: Sweep it. Yes, it’s that simple. Brush off the leaves, buds, acorns, branches and whatever else has collected there.
Step 3: Apply the Cleaner
Next, it’s time to start the actual work of cleaning the deck. At RepcoLite, we recommend two different cleaners depending on your situation:
RESTORE from Benjamin Moore: This cleaner’s for old, weathered wood that either has no stain on it or so little as to be completely negligible. This cleaner will restore your old wood to a nearly new look.
REMOVE from BENJAMIN MOORE: This cleaner’s for decks that still have a noticeable amount of stain on them. REMOVE will . . . remove . . . that stain. Now, we want to clarify that REMOVE will work well on transparent and semi-transparent stains. It’s not designed to remove solid color stains from your deck.
Whatever cleaner is appropriate for your situation, the application is the same:
A. Mix it with water according to the label instructions.
B. Mist your landscaping and siding (near the deck) with water to protect them.
C. Spray the cleaner onto the deck with a garden sprayer.
D. Wait 10 – 30 minutes depending on the condition of your deck. And be sure not to let the cleaner dry out in this step! If necessary, mist more cleaner onto the deck to keep it wet.
E. Scrub the boards with a good scrub brush in the direction of the grain. This is an important step! The better you do here, the more effort you put in, the better your end results.
F. After scrubbing the deck, rinse it clean with a power washer or a garden hose. Be sure to give your plants and siding a quick rinse as well!
Step 4: Apply Brighten
Once you’ve rinsed the deck, you’re likely going to be very excited at the results you’re seeing. And you’ll be tempted to quit and wait for the deck to dry. But don’t do that–not just yet. There’s one more step: you need to apply BENJAMIN MOORE’S BRIGHTEN to the boards. This will neutralize the cleaner that you just rinsed off and will also brighten the boards considerably.
Application is essentially the same as the cleaner and should be done immediately after cleaning the deck.
Mix it according to label instructions, mist the landscaping and siding, spray it onto the deck, let it sit, scrub it around, and then rinse it off.
Step 5: Let it Dry
And you’re done! With the cleaning step, that is. All that’s left before you apply a stain is to let the deck dry. We recommend waiting at least 3 good drying days. And by “good drying days” we mean days without rain. Stain needs to be able to penetrate into the wood of your deck to perform. If the deck is damp, the stain can’t penetrate as well . . . and problems usually follow! So let it dry.
And that’s pretty much it. Cleaning an old deck and getting it ready for stain may sound like a complicated process or a long project, but it’s not! The work goes quickly and, on the right day, can actually be a great 2-3 hours spent outside. And the results you’ll get will be more than worth it.
If you’re still not convinced, check out this video we made last summer when we sampled the Benjamin Moore cleaners. And if you’d like more information about decks and what’s required to get them ready for summer, why not give a listen to our Color Me Home Podcast all about decks! You can listen on your computer or download it and listen to it later on your phone or any mp3 player. Check it out!
This week, Betsy and Dan talk about the quintessential Spring/Summer project: cleaning and protecting your deck! Deck projects may seem complicated, but they’re really very straightforward. You just need to arm yourself with a little information. Lucky for you, that’s almost entirely what’s contained in this episode. (Actual information content is roughly around 85%. The other 15% is stuff we have a tough time categorizing…)
How long do I have to let a new pressure-treated deck dry before staining? (2:30)
My deck’s gray and faded! How do I get it ready for stain? (6:37)
Why is cleaning the deck important? Can’t I just skip this step? (15:00)
Do I have to protect my wife’s plants around the deck? Or will they be OK? (18:00)
I don’t understand all the different deck stains that are out there! Can you help? (22:38)
What tools do you recommend for applying the stain? (30:02)
How do I apply the stain to my deck? (37:52)
Is there a best time of day to apply the stain? (43:20)
Pressure-treated lumber has been chemically treated to resist rot, decay, and termites. And really, it’s an interesting process by which this is all done. See, the lumber is rolled into giant pressurized tanks where the preservative is forced deep into the wood’s fibers. Here’s a video for those of you who want the full “deck experience”!
Getting the Deck Ready for Stain
OK. In the episode, Dan talked about having video of a co-worker, Dave Williams, falling down the stairs while cleaning the deck. As is usually the case, Dan’s memory of the event and the reality depicted in the footage, aren’t necessarily the same. While in his mind, the event was long, drawn out, and utterly hilarious, the video is much less so. Still, it’s someone falling down who’s not Dan. So, that’s cool. And, best of all, Dave was just fine! The big takeaway here is this: these deck cleaning products can create a very, very slippery surface! So be careful!
Other than the video of Dave falling, we also mentioned a very quick video that demonstrates a sample of what Benjamin Moore’s Restore and Brighten can do for a deck that’s old and weathered. The results are remarkable! Check it out:
Here’s a demo of the OnFloor Machine we discussed in the podcast, though we want to note that the situation in this video shows the OnFloor Machine removing nearly 5 layers of freshly applied stain (yikes!). As a result, the speed is dramatically reduced. Still, you can see a great example of how clean the OnFloor Machine will get your deck. It’s a very quick way to get your wood ready for stain without having to do any cleaning or introduce any water to the deck at all. This means you could clean it and stain it on the same day!
We have an OnFloor Machine for rent. You can contact us at 616-396-5213 to check availability and rental rates!
Which Tools are Best?
In the podcast, we discuss 3 recommended tools for staining your deck. For a more in-depth look complete with video of how quickly (or not!) the tools work, look below:
And that’s it for all the information we covered in the podcast. We knew this was a long one and we debated about the best way to present it. In the end, we decided to present it in it’s entirety and let people pick and choose what parts they wanted to listen to more closely! We hope the information’s helpful. And don’t forget, if you have any questions at all, you can stop out at any RepcoLite Paints, Port City Paints, or Snyder Paints location and let us help! Or, you can email Dan and Besty directly at email@example.com!
Every now and then I stumble into a project that is easy and remarkably rewarding. This was one of them! We found an old deck that was slated for demolition and we decided to try out some of Benjamin Moore’s wood cleaning and brightening products. I expected the products to work, but the results were amazing!
I was out of the office and working in one of our RepcoLite stores last week Friday and a contractor walked in with some questions about a deck.
Here’s the scenario: He’s been hired to fix a deck for a homeowner. The deck had been painted before and was now peeling. He’d power-washed it and managed to remove about 20% – 30% of the old paint. He was at RepcoLite to pick up some primer and some paint so he could prime the bare spots and get everything coated.
Well, that sounds easy enough, but there’s a problem and after explaining the situation to him, I decided it was perfect for a blog entry. So, here’s what we covered at the counter:
OLD, FAILING PAINT CONTINUES TO PEEL: The first concept I needed the contractor to understand is the notion that once the paint starts to fail and peel, it will continue until it’s mostly gone. Unfortunately, it doesn’t typically do this all at once. So, even though the contractor had done a good job and had power-washed the deck, the problem was that much of the old paint remained. The reason this is a problem is because…
NEW PAINT/PRIMER WILL NOT MAKE OLD PAINT STICK BETTER: Putting new paint overtop of old paint–old paint that has started to peel–will not bond that paint to the surface. The new paint WILL bond to the old paint . . . but if the old paint is starting to fail, it will eventually peel and take the new paint off as well. This is bad news because…
ALL THE WORK YOU DO CAN BE WASTED: If you go through all the work of power washing, priming and painting a deck that is covered with old paint that has started to peel, the chances are the spots where you primed and painted BARE WOOD will hold up alright for a couple years. However, equally as likely is the chance that the old paint that you couldn’t remove will peel soon, taking the new paint with it. In the end, you (or your customer) will be left with the same situation they just thought they rectified.
Well, we covered those problems and I could tell it sunk in and made sense to the contractor I was helping. He then asked the obvious question: WHAT DO I DO TO FIX IT, THEN?
That’s a bigger concept, but to briefly sum it up:
POWER WASH! A good place to start is where my contractor DID start: a good power washing. Much of the time, the pressure from the wash will blast off much of the loose and flaking paint.
SAND/STRIP THE DECK! If the power washer doesn’t completely remove the paint–or at least remove 80% – 90% of it, you may want to consider stripping the deck with chemical strippers or possibly renting a sander and sanding the paint off.
FLIP THE BOARDS OR INSTALL NEW! This is a hard-core solution to the problem, but would typically fix the issue. Some decks are in good enough condition that flipping the boards to the uncoated side gives a new surface to work on. Other decks might be better suited simply being replaced.
BITE THE BULLET AND DEAL WITH THE FAILURE! Another option–though not terribly appealing–would be the option of simply accepting the failure. This means you weigh all the options and decide that for your situation, you’re better off just cleaning the deck as well as you can and then priming and painting and accepting the fact that next summer you’ll probably have to do it again.
In the end, I write all of this for two reasons: first, to give you some tips if you’re dealing with a deck that’s been painted in the past. It’s important to understand the limitations and the struggles you’ll have trying to make it look good. Sometimes at least knowing those issues up front will help! Secondly, I mention this mainly for this reason: To help you realize that paint on a deck is NOT THE WAY TO GO. It sounds good, it looks like a good option, it’s appealing to many people . . . but the problems quickly arise and then, dealing with them can be extremely time-consuming and expensive! Paint’s great for many surfaces. A Michigan deck, however, isn’t one of them!
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