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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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 Can I Get Rid Of My Old Paint In The Garage?

How can I get rid of my old paint in the garage?  This is a great question I have answered before however with not a lot of in-depth information.  This time I will delve deeper into this answer.

Preface:  To start with there are some tall tales that are a myth about preserving the leftover paint.

1. When you have, let us say, half of a gallon of paint left over and want to store it for some extended period of time, you just put the lid on tight and turn the paint can upside down.

That doesn’t work.  The reason is that when you closed the lid you also trapped in oxygen inside the empty space of the can.  Then when you turned the can upside down the oxygen is still trapped in that container and oxygen starts to dry the paint.  A year later when you go to use the paint for touch up, the paint is lumpy or dried.  Rendered unusable.

2. When you have leftover paint that you have had in a roller pan a roller, in a brush and a paint bucket all of which you have scraped or pored back into the original paint can.  You have just contaminated the can of paint that you will want to use at a later time.

With the closed lid, half full of contaminated paint and the empty part is filled with OXYGEN.  This becomes a concoction that will mildew rapidly.  Because where do you think you are going to store this vile can … IN THE HOT GARAGE.  The perfect storm becomes an incredible smelly touch-up paint in the future.

You see, the use of the brush, roller, buckets and roller pan all contain some sort of bacteria that you have picked up from the surfaces you were painting. Then you put the leftover paint back into the original paint can and stored in the hot garage which causes rapid mildew growth at a rate that has been explained to me, with spore growth that is countless.

One caveat to this dissertation is you can pour into the leftover paint a couple of tablespoons of bleach that will prevent the spores from growing.  This process will not cause any harm to the paint.  Furthermore, if you discover that a can of paint you were going to use for touchup is very smelly and moldy after the fact, you can put a few tablespoons of bleach in the leftover smelly paint then stir it up and let stand for a day.  At least the paint will not smell when applied again.

I have been an expert witness for paint disputes for years and one case was that a large bank lobby was painted with leftover paint from a larger contractor paint job.  The contractor was trying to cut corners and use leftover paint from a previous large paint job.  The paint from that job was poured back into buckets each day for a week.  Then the paint was stored in a hot warehouse for a few weeks and then used on the new bank lobby.

Because of the new construction of the bank lobby the fresh air was masking the mildew smell each day.  However the next week the lobby was reopened and the enclosed air system caused the mildew to become obnoxious.  The bank called me to evaluate the situation and when I discovered in the storeroom a touchup can leftover from the paint job that the touchup paint was contaminated with mold and mildew.  This contaminated paint was spread thinly over the whole surface and the smell wasn’t going away.

The job needed to be repainted however it was necessary to mix in bleach with the new coating to combat the mold on the existing sub straight.

NOW TO ANSWER THE ORIGINAL QUESTION!  Leftover paint can be thrown away however it needs to be DRY before doing so.

This is what you can do.

  • You can pour the wet paint on lots of newspaper and let dry, then throw in the trash.
  • You can mix in cat litter and spread out on newspaper, let dry and then throw in the trash.
  • You can buy in most paint stores an additive that hardens latex paint and then you can throw into the trash.

  • Oil-based paint will take longer to solidify or dry, the newspaper can be used then throw into the trash.

The most important factor about throwing paint away is that it needs to be DRY.  No liquid vehicle should be remaining.

NOTE!  If for some reason you have some paint that you want to dispose of that was made prior to 1978 you need to be very careful.  That paint may contain lead.  Lead is something we do not want in the landfills.  If this is the case you will need to contact a ‘Lead Abatement Contractor’ to dispose of this product.

If you suspect Lead, contact the EPA’s website for instructions.  Environmental Protection Agency

I hope this answers your question!

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:


Painting Contractor Post ! Seal Glaze on Lacquer Cabinets?

Painting Contractors question?  What do I seal cabinets doors with after applying my oil glaze?   The answer is simple however I would preface the question first.  These are the questions I would ask the contractor to give a thorough answer.

  • What kind of wood are the cabinets made with?
  • Are they stained or painted?
  • Is the glaze Oil or Water Glaze?
  • Are you going to use solvent lacquer or water lacquer?
  • Are you staining with a dark or light color and then glazing the accent detail?
  • Are you painting with a pigmented lacquer and then glazing the accent detail?

These are the basic questions to answer.  However, the more questions require more answers and explanations so at this time I will keep to this contractors question.

He was using white lacquer on birch wood.  This type of wood is smooth and without any deep grain that will telegraph through the finish and cause the glaze to get caught up in.

However if the contractor uses a clear sealer to top coat to seal the glaze in place, this sealer will probably turn yellow or amber over white lacquer.  The trick here is not to seal the whole surface but to put the sealer in the glaze.

The glaze formula could be, One cup of oil glaze and a quarter cup of oil based satin varnish or gloss varnish depending on what the sub straight base is.

The application of glaze could be done by taking cheesecloth dipped in kerosene and wiped over the entire surface of the detailed door.  Then take a brush of your glaze mixture and brush in the corners you want to accent.  Working on one door at a time, with a dry large handful of (NO LINT) cheesecloth and wipe off as much glaze to create the desired finish.

Results:  When the glaze mixture dries in twenty-four hours it will be hardened or solidified so the finished glaze will not rub off easily.

One caveat:  If water base glaze is used you would mix in a water-based interior satin or gloss varnish.  You will NOT use the kerosene to allow the flow of glaze, however, you can wipe over the entire door surface a clear thinned down water glaze to help seal the surface temporarily so the cheesecloth can wipe off the desired amount of glaze.

Glazing cabinets or detailed wood like moldings or crown moldings is not hard but it takes a keen eye for how much you are leaving on the surface or taking off the surface.  In this case, a lot of practice makes perfect.

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Interior & Exterior Finish … Most Durable of All Products

Interior and Exterior finish … Most durable paint (clear and with color) product on the market today!  SANSIN  Eos and Ardera.   These products are considered a “High-End” finish because of the cost.  However, you may take into consideration your time applying a paint finish and if the products outperform other products on the market by two or three times … Then the cost just may not be so ‘financially hurtful’.

Let’s start this way!  Paint coatings today have come a long way since I first started painting.  The water resins are superior to years ago, however, a lot of companies have been reluctant to use these expensive ingredients because they feel people won’t buy them.  To some degree, that is true.  However, when you have a ‘High-End’ product you have to explain why the cost of a gallon of paint is so much.

This company SANIN makes these two products I’m showing you and the products are worth the money you are paying for them if you are doing it yourself or you are paying a contractor to apply this product … It’s worth it!

My fifty years of painting experience gives me the perspective to know when a product is worth it or just a lot of hype.

I have monitored the performance of these two products for about five years now and I am still amazed how well these products are holding up.  You do need to maintain the products on the weathered sides and where there is heavy use however that would be something I would always recommend on any product so the finish doesn’t get away from you.

These products can be used inside or outside of your home with very little lingering smell if any because of air circulation.  Eos comes in very natural colors.  Ardera is a luster that can be used by itself or over the Eos color finish.  Each one can be used by themselves or together.  Extremely durable products.  I have links to the companies website for each product so you can get more information.  You can also look up where you can buy this product on their website.  It’s worth it!

SANSIN Eos  …   Beautiful water-borne wood finish.

With just one or two coats, Sansin Eos provides tough, effective protection for sidings, logs, decks, and fences. Specially formulated oils and resins protect the wood, providing outstanding weather and UV protection that won’t crack, peel or blister. Due to its high solids and unique water-borne alkyd technology Eos is exceptionally easy to apply and maintain, ensuring a perfect finish every time. Crisp, clear color means that Sansin Eos dramatically enhances the natural beauty of any wood project. For additional luster and protection, apply a final coat of SANSIN Ardera.

SANSIN Ardera  …  Beautiful high-luster finish for any project, new or old.

Sansin Ardera is a durable two-coat water-borne finish that can be applied to virtually any surface – including millwork, siding, decks and even to improve the performance of other coatings. That’s because Ardera is self-priming and offers exceptional adhesion to almost any surface, resulting in a medium- or high-luster finish of exceptional beauty. Ardera is highly resistant to wear, doesn’t discolor over time, and provides some of the toughest UV protection available. Whatever your project, the exceptional characteristics of Ardera – in either natural, translucent or saturated finishes – will raise it to a new standard of beauty and durability.

Not all areas in this country carry this product.

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