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Deck Stain Fiasko

When I purchased the house in 2013 I received a can of BEHR semi transparent weather proofing all-in-one wood stain & sealer (100% acrylic), which I assume was applied over a solid color paint. I had a stairway added half a year ago. The deck was otherwise in good shape with just some very minor chipping in a small area from dog’s nails. Last week I asked contractors to paint/stain for maintenance and to protect the new wood used for the stairs. I meant for them to use the same product which seemed to be holding up OK, but they used BEHR Transparent penetrating oil wood finish. It took long to “dry,” looks splotchy and feels dangerously slippery over previous layers and doesn’t visually match where used over new wood. I could use some expert advice – HELP!?

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Posted 2016-09-15T20:42:02+0000  by Cobold Cobold

411.66 sq feet - I think.

L-shaped deck; 2 rectangles: 



52'8" of railings...

California SF East Bay

Posted 2016-09-15T20:43:56+0000  by Cobold

Seems like you've got a lot going on here! First, the Behr Acrylic Stain is intended to go on bare wood. It sounds like you put it over existing paint? This is an odd usage, but should hold up, since most paints now a days are also acrylic based. .

Your contractors apparently used an oil stain on the new additional decking. Oil stains are generally my first choice, but if you were trying to match the old decking, it would not match.

What to do:  After allowing the oil stain to thoroughly dry, you could apply a coat of solid hide acrylic decking stain to match the base color which the transparent acrylic stain was put over in the past. The transparent stain could then be put over it. The transparent stain is being used almost like a glaze coat in this instance. The Behr solid hide stain can be color matched to any color, so if you have a sample of the original base paint, bring it to your local Home Depot to have it matched.

Unfortunately, the alternative to the above is to strip everything back to bare wood and start over! Such stripping is done by either sanding, or by use of chemical strippers.
Posted 2016-09-16T04:41:34+0000  by ordjen

Thank you ordjen. The previous homeowner had applied the acrylic stain over something else (I assume but don't know for sure if it was paint, definitely a solid color), probably as a protective glaze as you say - no peeling during the 3 years I've lived there. The contractors then applied the oil-based finisher on top of both previous layers (acrylic stain and whatever solid color product). 

If they now apply a solid hide acrylic decking stain as you suggest, will it adhere to the oil-based finisher below, and will the oil-based finisher adhere to the acrylic stain underneath? These are my main concerns.

If doing so means certain failure, I'd insist the contractors start over from bare wood. But ideally I'd like to avoid stripping chemicals mainly because deck is surrounded by "organic" shrubs and fruit trees and I have pets and a young child.

May I ask why oil-based is your preference? Thank you very much for your help. Single mom, confused by conflicting advice on the wwwebs, and interested in making this a long-lasting investment :)

Posted 2016-09-19T20:56:26+0000  by Cobold
 An Acrylic product may be put over a thoroughly dried oil product, BUT an oil stain should never be put over a painted or sealed surface. Oil stains  must penetrate into the wood without any excess remaining on the surface. Excess oil , especially those containing linseed oil, will not dry. Unlike oil paints, oil stains have no chemical driers in them.

My preference for oil stains in because they penetrate into the wood without leaving a film on the surface. Having no surface film, it will never fail by peeling. Water based stains form surface films and if not properly bonded to the wood, can potentially peel.

Oil stains only require one coat. Most water based stains require two. Indeed, two coats of oil is a BAD idea, as it leaves oil un-absorbed on the surface where it becomes tacky and remains so!

Transparent oil stains bring out the natural beauty of the wood. Water based products tend to mask the grain more. and as additional refresher  up coats are applied, they can become quite opaque.

If there is a down side to oil stains, it is that they need more frequent refreshing coats, as much as yearly. But refreshing oil goes relatively quickly and easily after the yearly cleaning of the deck.
Posted 2016-09-20T05:46:51+0000  by ordjen


The alternative to chemical stripping is sanding.  For sanding, a belt sander loaded with 36 grit paper will rapidly remove the old stain. Follow the course sandin with an 80 or 100 grit paper to smooth the decking. However, sanding will still leave the old stain on the side of the decking boards, which are still visible. I have recommended to customers who opt to sand, that they first stain the edges of the boards with a similar solid color acrylic stain BEFORE sanding. The subsequent sanding will leave the edges intact and then the new oil or transparent  acrylic stain can be applied to the tops of the decking boards..
Posted 2016-09-20T05:53:35+0000  by ordjen
The contractor is adamant about my paying for the entire cost of sanding and starting over. The only offer he's making is to powerwash the oil-based finisher off the acrylic stain underneath, basically insisting that if it won't "stick" anyway, washing it off should be possible. Then the deck would be almost as it was? I appreciate your extra effort.
Posted 2016-09-22T21:38:37+0000  by Cobold
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