Can I put solid deck stain right over semitransparent?
May 2, 2012 11:52 AM   Subscribe

New semi-transparent stain on deck is ugly. Can I put solid stain right over it?

We refinished our crappy old deck with SuperDeck semi-transparent oil-based stain in the color "Fig," which should more properly be named "Forest Service Brown." It's ugly. No, we didn't test first, lesson learned. Can I put a solid stain right over this in a more suitable color? Or, as some parts of the internet seem to suggest, do I actually have to STRIP the cursed thing first?

I e-mailed the manufacturer about this but they haven't replied, and at any rate I know they will give me the most conservative, best-practices answer, when really all I want is to make this ugly deck look better right now. We may sell this summer if we find what we're looking for, but even if we stay the deck will not be around for more than a couple more years.
posted by HotToddy to Home & Garden (8 answers total)
 
There's no answer like empiricism.

What I mean is, you should try staining over your existing deck in a place where you won't notice if it goes somehow horribly wrong. Not only will that give you your answer, but you know exactly how it will look.

Try it on some scrap lumber first, (i.e., stain it "fig", let it dry, and then apply whatever else you have in mind) if there's no decent spot available on the deck itself, but note that young lumber can respond to finishes differently to how old lumber responds. Even this should give you some idea of how your results will come out.
posted by gauche at 12:19 PM on May 2, 2012


Can I put a solid stain right over this in a more suitable color? Or, as some parts of the internet seem to suggest, do I actually have to STRIP the cursed thing first?

Unless you want the stain to look weird and blotchy, you need to strip it. Wood can only absorb so much stain to any appreciable effect, and if there's already a coat on there, adding more isn't going to do as much as it would if it were fresh. Staining over the old stuff can actually make it look worse depending on the materials. It's stain, not paint. You'll wind up with a horribly uneven look if you just slap more on there.

I recommend using a chemical stripper. The good ones are actually pretty safe, and you'll be shocked at how effective they are. A well-stripped deck looks like it was just built yesterday.

Check out the strippers and stains here. I've used these before, and the results are simply unbelievable.
posted by valkyryn at 12:30 PM on May 2, 2012


Alternatively, could I use deck paint over it? I know deck paint exists, but I don't think I've ever seen a painted deck and suspect there must be a reason. Is it a terrible idea?
posted by HotToddy at 12:39 PM on May 2, 2012


I'm in the process of staining my deck, and I've been spending far too much time reading about deck staining lately. Everything I've read says that you can't apply new stain on old stain (and you have to strip it first). The stain I'm in the process of applying even warns against letting it dry between the first coat and the second. So presumably something bad happens, but I'm not sure what. Peeling maybe? (On preview I see that valkyryn has described the result).

On the other hand, my stain says that I can apply a light maintenance coat every few years. So why is that different? I dunno. Deck staining is a dark and mysterious art. I share your pain.

(On preview, I guess you can do a maintenance coat because the wood is ready to absorb more stain after a few years.)
posted by diogenes at 12:41 PM on May 2, 2012


Many solid stains are as thick and opaque as deck paint. Ask your local paint store for a sample and try a patch. I think it will cover.
posted by lee at 12:47 PM on May 2, 2012


could I use deck paint over it?

Yes, you can. Paint and stain are in different categories. Stain actually goes into the wood, while paint more-or-less sits on top of it. "Deck paint" is really just a species of outdoor paint designed to stick to wood rather than plaster or metal.

I don't think I've ever seen a painted deck and suspect there must be a reason.

Because most people think stain looks a lot better.

Is it a terrible idea?

Depends on how bad your deck looks now. But do try gauche's test area first. You may decide that it's doable.

Then again, if you're trying to resell, I can't think of an easier and cheaper way to add huge curb appeal than stripping and restaining your deck. The Deck Magic product in the above link goes on easy with a brush and power washer, and leaves your deck looking brand new. The Ready Seal stains can actually be applied with a pump sprayer, so you're not messing around with brushes and whatever, and there's something about it which strongly resists spotting and streaking, provided the wood is properly stripped first.

So for maybe $200 in chemicals and equipment rental, you can totally redo your deck in about two work days. That could easily add a few thousand bucks to the selling price.

I guess you can do a maintenance coat because the wood is ready to absorb more stain after a few years.

That's precisely it.
posted by valkyryn at 12:50 PM on May 2, 2012


Alternatively, could I use deck paint over it?

I'm guessing no, since most deck stains are going to be water-repellent. It's already designed to keep liquids out. But this would depend on the brand you bought. It's either going to be blotchy, or the paint isn't going to adhere.

Either way, it's a mess. I second the calls for a chemical stripper first, whatever you do.
posted by Capt. Renault at 1:51 PM on May 2, 2012


Alternatively, could I use deck paint over it? I know deck paint exists, but I don't think I've ever seen a painted deck and suspect there must be a reason. Is it a terrible idea?

Solid stain is really more like translucent paint anyway. I personally think it looks ugly. A painted deck can look really sharp if you choose the color and paint type right. I'd suggest looking at the brochures in the store by the exterior/deck paint section and see if anything jumps out at you.
posted by gjc at 3:32 PM on May 2, 2012


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