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Do It Yourself


Apply deck stain on bare wood

By Peter Hotton
Peter Hotton
Peter Hotton has been the handyman expert for the Boston Globe for more than 30 years.

Q. My 12-by-25 back deck was built three years ago with pressure-treated wood and left to weather. Some areas had a sooty look, and stairs leading to the yard were sooty and mossy. Last fall, I scrubbed half the area with a solution. Now I plan to have the whole area power-washed and maybe stained. A neighbor does power washing. I got a quote from an independent professional for labor-only to stain for $700. I would furnish the stain, thinking Behr. His quote is $700. Which would be preferable, oil-based stain or the alternate?

The only thing that will work on a wood deck is a semitransparent stain on bare wood. So your plan to power-wash before staining is a good idea, because that will remove mold, algae, moss and soot (probably mold), and some dirt.

Your neighbor can do the power washing, and you can leave it at that. The wood will weather nicely. The $700 for staining is a fair price. But be careful about the Behr stain, or any other brand of finish. If it is a semitransparent stain, OK. I have found Olympic, oil based, to be the best. It has to be applied on bare wood, and will last five to seven years.

Q. I am on a renovation project, which includes a staircase. I am trying to get the old finish back, and a refinishing specialist is sanding all woodwork, then staining and finishing with polyurethane. Everything is going well except for the oak treads, which are painted. I am asking him to sand them before finishing. He said he can’t refinish an oak tread that has been painted. What can I do?

He really can, but he won’t for a good reason. Oak, like mahogany and walnut, is an open-pored wood and when painted, paint fills those pores. Even a good prime and paint job will show those pores like pockmarks, a different color than the wood.

To correct this, the pores are filled with a paste wood filler, and the resulting paint is smooth and nice looking.

Your man won’t do it because it is virtually impossible to remove those pockmarks. To do so would be very costly, probably more than a new set of oak treads.
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