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      The Grime Scene Terms Of Service and Forum Rules   08/23/2007

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What do I do with this mess? Would really appreciate some advice.

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I am having trouble figuring out what to do about staining my deck and fence and would really appreciate some knowledgeable advice.  I live in a townhouse and have a pressure treated pine deck, and a fence which is part cedar, part pressure treated pine. The pine section of the fence is old (had already been there a while when I moved into the house six years ago) and the cedar portion of the fence is about three years old.  The fence was unstained because the HOA only allowed clear, so I didn't put anything on it.  The deck was stained with dark red ready seal about 3 yr ago.


Now my HOA is allowing staining with a "semi-transparent wood tone stain," so I hired another company to clean the deck and fence and apply stain (they use ready seal) with the hope of having everything look at least reasonably uniform.  I checked to make sure the company was licensed, bonded, and insured, and also used Angie's list reviews to vet firms.  Unfortunately, I didn't ask the right questions when I got the estimate, and it's clear after the wash that the contractor is not up to the job and we are going to mutually part ways.  The cedar fence is furred all over the place, and has white gunk on it that the contractor claims is dead wood (the contractor said that it happened because the wood was so soft and that nothing could be done to correct the furring).  The pine portion of the fence is cleaner than it was, but it's still fairly dark and it's not clear to me whether that's what old pine should look like clean, or if the cleaning could have been better.  The deck has a fair amount of remnant stain on the vertical surfaces, and the stain has mostly worn off of the horizontal surfaces.  The cleaning didn't strip the ready seal stain. The contractor claimed to use either percarb or NaOH to wash.  Basically, I'm left with three zones of wood that would need to be stained with the hope of getting them all to look close enough to the same color to keep my neighbors from cringing:  the pine section of the fence, the cedar section of the fence, and the deck with ready seal.  I've attached photos. post-8697-0-04797900-1446258848_thumb.jppost-8697-0-99453400-1446258870_thumb.jppost-8697-0-36422300-1446258900_thumb.jppost-8697-0-90368800-1446258916_thumb.jp I'm trying to decide between three options:


1.  Hire another contractor that bid on the project who in hindsight was more knowledgeable and I'm pretty sure will do a hotter strip of the deck and fence (they use NaOH and claimed the ready seal would come off easily), and then have them apply dark walnut ready seal (they only use ready seal).  Would this have a hope of turning out well??


2.  Find another contractor to apply or DIY a semi-transparent product that is not ready seal but would have the kind of pigment that could cover enough to account for the different woods, etc.  Any good semi-trans products for this???


3.  Get some beer and pizza, round up some kind neighbors, and hit the whole thing with an oil-based solid.


4.  I'm totally wrong and need to do something else.


Sorry this is so long.  Thanks for your time, and I'd appreciate any advice.



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Meghan I believe you have come to the right place to ask the question regarding your project. There are many qualified contractors on the grime scene that are very qualified in wood restoration and some live in your area. As far as the project itself it is an option if you want to do the work or have some one else do the work. Should you decide to go with a contractor do your home work and research ask to speak with other customers they performed work for and go and see they kind of work they performed for yourself so that you will have totally piece of mind. best of look to you.

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From your pictures, it is really not that bad.  My best guess is that the contractor used a sodium percarbonate wood cleaner.  We've used Ready Seal almost exclusively for 13 yrs. and a 3 yr. old Ready Seal stain is easily removed with a light sodium hydroxide stripper.  The vertical deck wood picture is best evidence that a stripper was not used.


In either case, it does not appear that an acid wash was used after stripping/cleaning.  This is a guess, as the lighting and pictures make it difficult to tell for sure.  NaOH and percarbs are caustic, which darkens wood and leaves it in a high pH range.  Citric or oxalic acid should be applied to brighten and get the pH closer to neutral. 


Cedar shadow box fencing is generally fabricated with very low grade wood.  The white residue around some knots is not unusual after cleaning/stripping and cover fine with stain.  Some firring of fence cedar is also not unusual, many contractors and DIY'ers tend to use too much water pressure.  If minor, it will not be noticeable after staining.  If beat up a bit, a quick pass of the outside surface with a random orbital sander with 60 grit will take care of it.


There is no easy "fix" trying to match colors fo two different species of exterior wood with any semi-trans oil based stain.  Being the vertical PT wood still has the dark red (now called "mahogany") Ready Seal pigment, I'd restain the deck with the same product and color.  2 light applications on the deck floor and toprail, and a single application on the verticals. 


For the fence, if you want it the same color as the deck, one application on both the cedar and PT sections.  The cedar will be lighter in color.  A second stain application on the cedar section will get it darker and closer to the PT, but it will not be exact.  It will look fine.


Your real problem is that is very late in the season.  Ready Seal can be applied when air temps are as low as the high '30's F.  But wood has a difficult time drying out due to colder temps, higher relative humidities,  and heavy overnight dew.  If contracting, make sure they have a moisture meter and use it.  The wood(s) must be at 14% moisture reading or less before applying the stain.

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Another thing to keep in mind is that when you have 2 different species of wood in the same construction, they will have different color representations

based upon the sealer you choose.

If you are choosing anything that allows you to see through the stain, there will be a difference in the color.

A toner as you mentioned is the lightest of pigmented stains and is going to be the most noticeable.
Some contractors who specialize in color matching on different woods can get you a closer match but there is no guarantee

due to the age and condition of the two different sections of fence that they will match.


H.O.A.'s are funny with the covenants which are often created by people with a preference and not necessarily a valid reason.
I would submit to them the ability to apply a semi-transparent stain to the fence which will be better bang for your buck and last

longer than a toner would and provide a protection factor the toner can't.


Food for thought.



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It looks better than your neighbors deck and fence already,,Id say you have a head start.

Wrong. If one hires and trusts a contractor service, they have to deliver. Simple business. We have never not been paid for exterior wood services in 13 years. This is not rocket science, just knowing what has to be done and who to do it.

You make a mistake, you fix it. Just like any other good service business.

Edited by RPetry

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