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Archive for Deck Finishing

The Refinishing of an Ipe Wood Front Porch Floor

Ipe Wood Decking - 1

Ipe Wood Decking – 1

Late last summer, our painting and decorating company was tasked with the refinishing of a front porch deck and the railings, as well as the refinishing of the front door system for a six-year-old house in the Northwest suburbs of Chicago. The decking was made of Ipe wood, the railings of Cedar wood and the front door of Doug Fir. Ipe is also known as Brazilian Walnut ad is one of densest hardwoods in existence. It is three times harder than cedar and is very heavy lumber.

Needless to say, creating color harmony between the different woods was very important to the client. To achieve the desired result, we had to resort to three different stain products, depending on the wood specie. Samples were prepared using similar woods. The client having specified Penofin as the product to use for the Ipe wood, it set the tone for the stain colors of the other two woods. Penofin is the Cadillac of finishes for Ipe and several other hardwood species. It is made of Brazilian Rosewood Oil and penetrates deeply into the wood and performs the best of any products I know of. In the long-run, it is also the easiest finish to maintain.

Ipe Wood Decking - 2

Ipe Wood Decking – 2

The major challenge we faced in refinishing the Ipe floor was that a different product had been used, the first time it was finished. We used a deck stripper to remove the old product and then sanded the whole deck floor. Strippers typically raise the grain of any wood. Normally, the sanding knocks off the dead wood fiber. However, we learned that , for a hard wood such as Ipe, the wood fiber is very soft, short and dense. It is similar to a peach fuzz. We tried sanding off that fuzz, with only very limited success. We ended up having to buff out the fuzz with an orbital sander and a soft foam pad covered with 1000-grit sandpaper. To achieve the desired finish, we had to wipe on two additional thin coats of Penofin, on top of the first coat.

Taking the additional finishing steps and doing the stain samples proved key in producing the look the client was after.

Refinishing an Older Deck is more Tricky than Finishing a New Deck

Deck finishing, when it involves a previously finished deck, is more complicated than finishing a deck for the first time.

For a new deck, we let the wood season over the winter so it can dry out properly. In the springtime, deck cleaning is in order, using a wood brightener and power washer. The result is, well, amazing! To finish the deck, we commonly use a pigmented transparent waterborne deck stain, although we occasionally use semi-transparent or solid color stains. Contrary to oils, the wood does not have to be fully dry before applying the product. Another advantage is that waterborne stains do not promote the growth of mildew like oils do.

Deck Cleaning Process

Deck Cleaning Process

However, when you deal with a previously finished deck, the process of refinishing it is quite a bit more complicated. We first need to assess the situation. What kind of product was used the last time? The answer to that question is very important. Sometime, the right product was used, but it has been too long ago and the finish has completely degraded. If the finish has worn off, the deck can be cleaned and finished like a seasoned unfinished deck.

However, if the wrong product was used on the deck, you are probably looking at lot of peeling on the surfaces. In that case, deck stripping is recommended and we then start the process over again, this time on the right foot though. Stripping is also recommended in the case where a client has had a change of heart about the desired look for their deck. For instance, a solid color stain was used in the past, but the client wants to switch to a transparent look.

Deck Refinishing

Deck Refinishing

This summer, we ran into a problem we had not encountered before. The deck railings and gazebo surfaces had been finished with a pigmented transparent stain. However, the decking had been finished with a film-building pigmented transparent coating. After a few months, the deck coating started to peel in small pieces. The owner was not happy! Unfortunately, no stain cans had been left behind by the last painters and the owner had not been included in, or informed of the product selection. We had to resort to heavy-duty strippers and an orbital sander to get the job done. The end result was well worth it however!

As you can tell, there is more to deck, cleaning, finishing and refinishing than meets the eye. At Painting in Partnership, house painting contractors from the Chicago Northwest suburbs, we have the skill and knowledge to produce exceptional results in our deck finishing work, no matter the finishing history of your deck.