Redwood Deck Looks Bad What Now?

Redwood deck looks bad even though I apply a good finish on it every two years as the sealer reads on the can says to do.

The answer is that I needed a little more information before I could give an answer.  So after a few follow-up questions, I will explain.

Redwood for a deck is one of the most favorable and beautiful decks that can be installed.  Lasting for many years, as long as you take care of it.

When questioning this person about their deck I discovered that when the deck was installed a lumber yard clerk sold them an expensive sealer and then explained just put this product on the beautiful redwood and it will need to be put on every two years to maintain its beauty for a long time.

THAT ISN’T WHAT HAPPENED!  After installing this very expensive redwood deck the customer applied as per instructions from the lumber yard that sold them this very expensive wood.  By the way, this deck and railings were about fifteen hundred square feet.   They applied two coats of sealer that enhanced the redwood to the most beautiful vivid redwood color.  Everyone was so impressed and kudos went to everybody involved with this project.

Within six months the deck had turned from a vivid redwood tone to BLACK or variations thereof.  The lumber yard spokesperson inspected this project and informed them that this sometimes happens because of the tannins in the redwood mixed with some moisture causes this condition to happen.  Their answer was to put more of the same sealer on with some semi-transparent color in it to cover up the black blotchy deck color.  So this customer did just that.  Now the deck had an artificial look to it and they were very disappointed with the result.  One caveat is that the lumberyard spokesperson had the gall to say that eventually, they would need to put a solid stain on the deck.

Wow!  I wished they had known Roger Merrill when installing this deck.  Because I have worked putting finishes on redwood decks for more than thirty years with extraordinary success.

Now to the answer and it may be difficult to swallow.  After installing a redwood or cedar deck you need to clean off the mil glaze on the surface of the wood caused by the hot cutting blades when milling the wood.

After milling (cutting into the finished size) the wood is immediately stacked on pallets.  That keeps the wood from drying out and contains the acid within the redwood or cedar.  Many years ago (more than fifty years) redwood was stacked in lumber yards for a few years to naturally dry out.  That doesn’t happen anymore.

The new redwood or cedar need to be cleaned with a premium cleaner with oxalic acid in it.  BEHR makes such a product.  All-in-One Wood Cleaner.

This product needs to be applied by garden sprayer then scrubbed with a deck brush and then rinsed.  This will remove any mill glaze, tannins and this is the part people do not want to hear it also removes a lot of red from the wood.  This excess red color is tannins that redwood contain.  Tannins are what cause the redwood to discolor black or blotchy when mixed with water.

After drying for at least twenty-four hours a sealer like Sikkens Cetol SRD can be successfully be applied.

One coat application is all that is necessary at this time, however, I believe that within six months you need to clean the deck on more time and apply the second coat.  This gives the fresh wood time to acclimate to the existing weather and environment so after applying the second coat will last at least two years before needing any attention.  Because you used the cleaner to remove the tannins the deck keeps its redwood beautiful appearance.

For our original questioner, what do they do now?   They need to strip all the existing inferior finish off the surface and start over.  I know that’s a lot of work however that is necessary to have a lasting and beautiful deck.

Start by using a deck stripper by BEHR Premium Wood Stain & Finish Stripper.  It really works well.

NOTE!  Using this stripper will turn your deck dark or black in places.  DON’T WORRY.  This is normal for cedar and redwood.  You may need a power washer with a fan tip NOT a pointed tip, to help blow off the residue.  After the deck has dried you now need to use the BEHR All-in-One Cleaner and that will lighten the wood back to a wood tone.  You may not retain all the natural redwood color.  Apply the Sikkens Cetol SRD with a ‘Translucent’ color tone to tone the deck evenly.

For reapplying applications let your common sense guide you.  When it starts to show some wear or slight discoloration reapply a cleaner and finish.  Doing this maintenance process is not very much time to maintain a beautiful redwood deck.

PS:  If you happen to live in the Sedona area you can give me a call if you would like me to estimate your exterior deck, new or renovate.  Roger Merrill

From black to natural with cleaner.

Grayed out deck that needs a cleaner.


What a cleaner can do.







Maintained Deck

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What Do I Do With Leftover Paint?

What to do with leftover paint!  That is a question I get more often than ever before.  So that is a good question.  This needs to be a twofold answer.

One, when you paint your home try to estimate the paint to be used as close as possible.  That is a good cost-saving process.  But as a contractor, the circumstances are a little different.  The calculating quantity of paint needs to be in excess enough that we do not run out and have to stop everything to get a few more gallons of paint.  The back problem is when you go back to the store and discover this supplier is out of that paint until next week or the color is not consistent with the color you are currently using.  These are some of the production dilemmas that face a contractor trying to finish a project.  So the contractor may have a few gallons left over from the job.

I am an Arizona Painting Contractor and have accomplished thousands of jobs and leftover paint is not a big issue.   One caveat, a full unopened leftover gallon of paint will store for years without drying up or deteriorating.  This gallon will be the color of the latest paint job and be able to touch up areas of the project without having to find the paint store, the correct product, and the color.

Two, leftover paint in a half-filled can needs to be poured down into, let’s say, two-quart cans filled to the top of each.  If the paint has been poured back into the original can from rollers or brushes used on the job, this paint may be contaminated and might create mold in the quart can.  So you can put a teaspoon of bleach in each leftover can and put the lid on top and then shake it up to thoroughly mix the paint.

You can buy ‘lined’ quart cans at most paint stores.  Also, try to take off the label from the original can that probably has the formula on it and tape this label to the new quart touchup can, by doing this you will preserve the paint information necessary to buy more in the future.

Other states have recycled centers for paint.  Arizona I do not believe has such a facility but ‘Habit for Humanity‘ does take leftover paint.  I believe this is a wonderful and useful organization that benefits from this service.

If you would like to learn more information from other states in the US, you can click on this link.    Recycling leftover paint is an easy way to show your environmental stripes.
This is a blog from the PDCA a national contractor website.

You also can also visit



Why Should I Hire a Licensed Contractor?

Why should I hire a licensed contractor?  I have received a lot of input after writing a similar article a few weeks ago.  So I researched what the ROC (Registrar of Contractors) had to say about it, and this is their information.

Contracting by unlicensed entities occurs every day and all too often the consumer loses hundreds or even thousands of dollars. What’s worse, you, as the property owner, have no recourse through Arizona ROC (Registrar of Contractors) if you hire an unlicensed entity.

Hiring a licensed contracting professional offers many additional protections to the property owner, especially regarding residential property. First, a contractor cannot obtain a license without possessing a minimum amount of experience and must pass a business management test.

The applicant is also subjected to a criminal history background check, required to take a trade examination, and must not have any unresolved contracting complaints outstanding.

Should you experience problems with a licensed contractor, you as a residential property owner have significant protections not available to persons utilizing an unlicensed entity. Among them, is the ability to file a complaint against the contractor’s license within a two-year period from the date of occupancy or date the last work was performed. This is the Agency’s jurisdiction period should the workmanship be below standard or in violation of existing codes.

Under certain conditions, you may also be eligible to apply to the Registrar’s Residential Contractors’ Recovery Fund and depending on the cost of damages receive up to $30,000 to have the work corrected or completed.

Each residential contracting license is covered for up to $200,000.00 to a maximum of $30,000.00 per residential property owner, on a pro-rata basis upon filing a complete claim.

Keeping detailed records of your contract, checks or other forms of payment will speed the processing of your claim, should the need arise.

For more detailed information, contact the Residential Contractors’ Recovery Fund Monday through Friday during regular business hours at (602) 542-1525 or from elsewhere in the state at 877-MY AZROC (877-692-9762), toll-free.

These protections are in addition to other remedies available through the courts.

PS:  If you want a wonderful painting experience call Roger Merrill or go to for more information.

Exterior Siding Bad Shape “Replace or Repair”?

Exterior siding that is in bad shape and should I replace it or can it be repaired?

Siding, for the most part, may have a lot of coats of ‘not so good paint’ applied on it and now it is peeling off in thick pieces.  However not all sides of the house are damaged, it is not peeling everywhere.  Can I still paint this bad looking wood?

YES!  At first look, it seems that it is everywhere however only one or two sides of the house contain most of the damage.

There is a magic product that I have been using for years with extraordinary success.  This product is “Peel Bond” high build primer manufactured by XIM, Rust-Oleum.

This product is amazing.  First, you need to power wash the siding with a fan tip, not a blaster round tip.  The strong round tip may blast faster, however, causes a lot of unnecessary damage.  After blasting with water will leave parts of the paint on the edge curled up and then you need to scrape off the excess loose paint.  Try to scrape as soon as possible while the paint is still wet and soft so as not to cause dust.  Note the age of your home needs to be addressed, 1978 or older.  It is possible that the old paint contains lead.  A booklet for safe handling of lead paint is published in a PDF Lead Booklet about lead handling.  Click on this link to open up this booklet.

Lead Booklet 1978

After reviewing this booklet you may be very frightened or alarmed however in my opinion the biggest danger is the dust caused by the sanding or rubbing of the old lead paint.  If precautions are followed in handling this issue, one can still be safe.

So back to the exterior siding.  After wet scraping the siding you will need to let the surface dry.  Then you can apply one or two coats of Peel Bond to seal up this old siding and even up the surface.  It may not look perfectly smooth however when you apply the finish low sheen water based finish you will see that the siding looks great again.

My northern Arizona paint company deals with these issues and you might want to view the site:


What’s In Milk Paint?

What is in Milk Paint?  Milk!  I know this may come as a surprise to you, however before the invention of paint, the only liquid readily available was milk.  There just had to be somebody that spilled some milk one day and it dried and then they tried to clean it up and found that this dried milk had great adhesion.  The paint was born.

Well, not so fast.  That was just the liquid (vehicle) to carry a pigment and the combination of milk as the base and some dried pigment completes this product of ‘Milk Paint’.

The use of milk paint has been used for thousands of years before our modern day paint.

Milk paint today can have some more ingredients in it however you won’t believe it … Just today’s powdered milk, water, and some dry pigment will make ‘Milk Paint’ you can put on your walls.

This is certainly natural.  Non-toxic and no smell.

I am trying to just answer the question directly without lot’s of detail however if in the future you want more details on the makeup and use and application just let me know.  Frankly, I could write a five thousand word blog on this subject and still have more information to write.  As a licensed contractor, I used my own milk paint formulation for customers that were allergic to the smell of modern-day paint.

Let me know if you want more about ‘Milk Paint’ by using the ‘Contact Me‘ page.

My Northern Arizona paint company will use milk paint for those discerning customers that want complete natural paint.

Check out my website:

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What is in water base paint that makes it stick?

What is in the water-based paint that makes it stick?  White glue!  In paint manufacturing terms the product is PVA (Poly Vinyl Acetate).  This is the same white glue you have used in school to make paper and wood stick together.

It is not an instant stick, PVA takes time to cure but when it does cure … You have an excellent bond to almost any sub straight.  Gluing glass or plastic may be a challenge for PVA, however, I have done so with some success.  I am not recommending PVA (White Glue) for ‘Non Porous surfaces’.

PVA (White Glue) looks white and when it completely dries it turns clear or in exact terms ‘Translucent’.  That is why it works in the paint because PVA can be put in the paint with other ingredients and not have an effect on the color outcome of the desired product.

This is the simple answer to your question.  However, in more technically advanced products the manufacturer may use more sophisticated resins.  Sometimes this is a mix of PVA and a sophisticated resin combination to accomplish adhesion.  Usually, these paints are fifty percent more in cost.

A wonderful trim paint that sticks and works well is Benjamin Moore, Advance Water/Oil Enamel.  It is water cleanup and is a very hard finish.  This paint does need at least sixteen hours to apply the second coat however it is worth it.  The easiest and most smooth finishing is by spraying.

I use it in my painting business and the customers love how it looks and feels.


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