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

— ooo —

Painting My Home … Hiring a Pro?

Going to paint my home and wondering should I hire a professional?

Great question to answer.  I can only assume that you mean a licensed contractor versus a painter without a license.  The answer is YES.  You should hire a professional licensed painting contractor.  Answered by an Arizona Licenced Contractor.

Here are the reasons why.  There are numerous however the main reasons are the licensed painting contractor has documented the experience, insurance, liability and is held responsible for quality performance by the state they are working in.

One of the biggest overlooked issue with hiring a non-licensed painter is that the incredible liability the property owner faces.  If the person you hired uses a worker on your project or home and that person gets injured this liability lands directly on the property owners responsibility to pay the hospital bills.  A non-licensed painter cannot purchase workman’s compensation insurance without being a state licensed contractor.  That is also why their estimate may be a lot lower than a licensed contractor.

I have been in the contracting field for years and sometimes the non-licensed painter is as much a state licensed contractor.  With this scenario “Who is making more money, the licensed contractor paying all the liability and workers compensation insurance or the non-licensed painter”?

All in all the argument might be it’s all the same until someone gets hurt on the job.  Then the story gets really messy.

True story!  Hard one to write about however it is necessary to tell the story.  I knew of a painter (non-licensed) that I suggested that he get his state license.  The biggest reasons were that he had two employees working for him.  Thru the grapevine I heard that tragically one of his employees fell off a two-story roof and broke his neck and was in a coma for months.  That was a medical bill presented directly to the homeowner.  You can only imagine how costly that became for the homeowner.

My sincere suggestion is only to hire state-licensed painting contractors.

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How Long Should Paint Last On The Outside of My Home?

How long should paint last on the outside of my home?  (Loaded Question to Ask!)  I first had to reply back to clarify the question.  That reply was, “Do you mean the color lasting?  The reply was yes, that is what I meant.

OK! Here goes!

Paint color on your exterior is controlled by the ultraviolet rays from the sun.  Ultraviolet rays are extremely damaging to everything.   With that said, there probably will be some scientists reply and inform me that ultraviolet is beneficial to something on earth.  But in the case of exterior paint, ultraviolet rays from the sun is what causes fading of your paint and the breakdown of the surface of stucco or wood finishes.

So how long should paint color last on the outside of your home?

If your home is at sea level and with lots of large year around shade trees somewhat protecting from direct sun rays, paint color should last at least ten years without noticeable color change.  However, if your home is in, let’s say, Sedona Arizona with the altitude of about four thousand feet and beautiful clear skies and closer to our beautiful suns rays including ultraviolet rays things will fade much faster.

One caveat, paint is damaged by the ultraviolet rays no matter whether you paint with a light color or a dark color.  The deterioration from the damaging rays is called oxidation.  All oxidation results are with a white residue forming on the surface of this sub straight.  If you have a light color on your exterior you will not see the damage because the oxidation residue is white.   However, if you have a dark color on the surface of your home you will see this residue as fading when it is actually the white oxidation residue makes the surface look lighter.

Because this has been my life’s work dealing with coatings on everything, I have experienced countless surface conditions and issues.  Bottom line, ultraviolet rays from the sun causes lots of destruction.  Just ask my dermatologist.

In conclusion, most of the time the oxidation from the rays are prominent on one or two sides of the house.  That means that you will need to just repaint half of your home every other time.  Unless you decide to change the color altogether.

PS:  This is a dangerous last comment because doing this procedure you really need to know what you are doing and what product to use to be successful.  So here goes.

When the exterior paint has deteriorated because of oxidation and for the most part the paint is sound, I have used a clear sealer to just saturate the surface of the exterior sub-straight and renew the life of the paint color.  In fact, the paint looks as good as new, sometimes even better than the original paint job.  Because the original paint was a flat finish and when I applied this top dressing on the surface it has a slight eggshell sheen.  This brings out the color even more.

This hundred percent acrylic is going to last as long as the original color did and sometimes looking back on projects I completed in years past the color held up even longer.

The reason I say it is dangerous is the clear sealer needs to be applied evenly and the product needs to be the right product for the sub straight you are applying it on.  I have seen projects that the contractor didn’t have any experience with applying this process and it turned out blocky and with uneven color so the results were you needed to repaint.

Ultraviolet rays from the sun are damaging to everything.

Roger Merrill Painting will also be glad to give you a painting estimate:


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:


How Many Coats of Paint Is Necessary For A Good Job?

How many coats of paint is necessary for a really good job?

Side note!  This is a question I received in my comments from a viewer. Please send me your questions so I can answer them.  I do not reveal your name and any question is a good question if you want an answer.

Now to the answer.  Let’s speak to outside of the house.   The frank answer is “Only what is necessary to cover the existing sub-straight and make the house look good”.  That may be only one complete coverage.

If there is a drastic color change you might need two coats.  The first paint coat possibly mixed half and half with an exterior primer.  The primer is constructed to cover better in most cases.

There might be a one coat application method often called “Spray and backroll”.  This is where the painter will mask everything off on the house and spray liberally with the paint and then another painter with a roller will then roll the wet surface out even.  This pushes the paint into the nooks and crannies of sometimes very heavy texture or a not so good surface.

This method is often used to make a very porous surface evener.

Especially exterior paint should not be applied in excess because of the buildup that will make paint eventually peel.

As for applying excessive coats on the interior is not quite as much a problem because there are not the extreme temperatures inside as there are outside.  I still do not believe in applying more than the project requires for good coverage.  The same coverage issues apply inside, if the paint doesn’t look like it has covered in the first coat, another coat will be necessary for a professional look.

There are times that “Spot Priming” is used.  This is where there are parts of the paint areas that needed sanding or patching and these areas just need spot priming to allow the one coat finish application.

I have worked in homes that were more than a hundred years old and I looked at a cut profile of the trim molding and discovered the many layers of paint over the years and I am always amazed the surface is still looking perfect.

PS:  I understand about the old enamel paint may have contained lead.  I will answer that in a later blog to you.

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