Help me avoid being a deck dork
April 23, 2016 2:25 PM   Subscribe

I am going to fix up my neglected deck. I can't afford new boards or fancy composite decking. So I thought I'd try the new thick deck coating paints. If you have experience with this I could use your advice...

1. What was you experience with these deck paints? Have they held up? What brand did you use? How did you prep the deck?
2. Some of the screws in our deck boards stick up. I tried screwing them back in but the holes are old and corroded and I can't get grip enough to drive them in or out. I tried pounding some down - driving like a nail - which works but they work their way back out over time. Any ideas on dealing with these?
posted by ecorrocio to Home & Garden (14 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Don't hammer screws in. Not only is it ineffective, it makes the situation worse because it tears up the hole and makes the fastener looser than it was. Do make sure you're using the right size screwdriver or, preferably, driver bit in a rechargeable drill. If the screws are made for a #3 Phillips and you're using a #2, you're destined to fail. A rechargeable drill will allow you to press down while driving a screw, and will also have a clutch you can set so it will slip before the bit cams out of the screw and damages the head.
posted by jon1270 at 3:08 PM on April 23, 2016 [2 favorites]

I did use the Behr Deck Over on a fairly neglected deck early last summer. It looked great last year. I probably did a lousy job of prepping for it, but did try and follow their instructions. The only problem I have so far is that parts flaked off when I had to shovel my deck from snow/ice. But, I am hoping to just paint those bits over and be good to go.
posted by Northbysomewhatcrazy at 3:19 PM on April 23, 2016

re: screws, what jon1270 said.

If you remove one and take it to your local hardware store, they can give you the correct bit for it. It's hard to see but they may be combo screws where they also work driven with a square driving tip, which will be less inclined to cam out.
posted by BillMcMurdo at 3:22 PM on April 23, 2016

but the holes are old and corroded and I can't get grip enough to drive them in or out
Remove those loose screws and replace them with new coated screws.
You can use a pry bar (or something else flat) under the head of a screw) to apply just enough upward force to help you unscrew them from the decking. Put the new ones in at a slight angle in the existing holes, or better, drill new holes.
posted by klausman at 3:44 PM on April 23, 2016 [1 favorite]

Do NOT use Rustoleum Deck Restore. We tried it, and it was an absolute disaster that our deck never really recovered from. Parts of it flaked off within a year, and the other parts bound so tight that they were impossible to sand down and remove when we needed to fix the attempted fix. We ended up covering our deck with a couple layers of Behr Deck-Over, which is actually pretty great.
posted by pdb at 3:46 PM on April 23, 2016 [1 favorite]

I have never used the deck coatings but I agree with the suggestion to remove old screws that are stripped or failing and replace with new ones.
posted by Dip Flash at 4:28 PM on April 23, 2016

I've done this several times on different decks. From the photo the wood looks ok, but the wood on the joists below is rotted or worn and needs to be repaired. Repairing the deck will be inexpensive and labor intensive. Refinishing the deck wood itself can suck up as much money as you'd like to spend.

Re-drilling the holes to accept a larger screw may work; if the issue is rotted/soft wood in the joists it will just fail again. I would fix the screws by following instructions similar to here: Wood Filler Repair

Basic process is:
1. Unscrew board
2. Use dilute bleach to kill rot/mold in holes
3. Fill holes with wood filler/bondo/epoxy
4. Reassemble

You can spend real money on professional products as well. See Rot Doctor The more you spend the longer the repair will last. For interior or expensive wood I use the pricey epoxies and I insert wood cores to replace the rot. How long do you want this to last? Bleach and bondo will buy you about 5 years, longer if you care for the deck.

The deck paint is a trickier matter. You can spend a lot of money on deck paint that will last for 40 years. How pretty do you want this to be? I did the below to a deck that has lasted about 15 years since, but it will not win a beauty contest:
1. Wash deck with a power washer or strong hose
2. Kill mold with bleach and water
3. Identify the parts of the deck that are too rough, splintering, or otherwise defective
4. Fill those areas with bondo
5. Sand with a power sander
6. Purchase a mold killing exterior primer like KillZ
7. Prime deck
8. Purchase cheap grey industrial external paint
9. Slap said paint on really thick
10. Wash every year, slap said paint on again every 5 years

This Old House has a web page that will help if you have a higher aesthetic bar: This Old House Deck Repair

You can do all of the above using cheap plastic tools, paint brushes, and the like while renting the power drills and sanders. At the time I think that I spent less than $200, but that was a while back and I invested a lot of sweat. The more expensive deck specific products will extend/eliminate the maintenance period and get you much closer to a Better Homes and Gardens mystique.

If I had to deal with the deck in your picture at my house I'd bleach/bondo the screws, sand, and apply the cheapest deck sealer I could find. It will be useable and relatively nice for about 5 years.
posted by pdoege at 6:08 PM on April 23, 2016 [6 favorites]

We're in the same situation this year, and have been doing a lot of research. has been a nice source of product reviews. We were considering the deck restore paints, but it sounds like no one gets more than 1-2 years out of them. You're deck isn't painted and doesn't appear to have much of a finish on it which works in your favor. You could go all out and use a wood cleaner, floor sander, etc., but slapping a couple of coats of semi-solid wood stain would probably get you most of the way there with minimal effort. My father-in-law does just this and the result looks decent, but you won't get into any design magazines. He puts a new coat on every 4 years, but doesn't do any deck prep.
posted by defreckled at 6:24 PM on April 23, 2016

I would do as pdoege recommends, but substitute the deck over paint as some of the colors are really nice. It comes in two thicknesses...I'd use the thinner one for wood (I think the thicker one is more for around pools)
posted by sexyrobot at 7:44 PM on April 23, 2016

Unlike the above posters, Behr did not work well for us. Over the winter, we've had whole strips of paint come off. Just something to bear (ha) in mind that even with really good prep there maybe challenges or a low time return on paint.
posted by MandaSayGrr at 11:31 PM on April 23, 2016

You might also try garage floor paint if longevity is a concern. It's epoxy based and unfortunately only comes in a few colors (IIRC, grey, black, beige, and yellow), but you can add black and white paint chip 'sprinkles' for more interest and better grip. They carry it at Home Depot, but usually only the bigger stores. Personally, I would go with the deck over (easier to paint...the garage floor paint is a 2-part mixture I believe), keeping in mind that it might need touch-ups every year or two...which is probably just par for the course when dealing with horizontal painted surfaces that live outdoors.
posted by sexyrobot at 11:58 PM on April 23, 2016

The fellow who lived at our house before we bought it was a professional painter, and he chose to paint the house, including the deck, which did make it look fairly nice. However, it was in fairly miserable condition less than ten years later, as the paint wasn't particularly good at adhering to the deck boards. I can't really say too much about the condition of the deck beforehand for the obvious reason.

However, once you paint, it is an irreversible transformation and you are committed to it. The option, once the paint fails, and it will, whether that's next year or in twenty years, is either more painting or replacing boards. In our case, we tore it all off and replaced it with a basic composite decking, which has been fantastic.
posted by jgreco at 5:10 AM on April 24, 2016

I'm not surprised that those screws are giving you trouble, they look like garbage. They're sticking up though, so if you can't turn them with a bit, you ought still to be able to turn them with a good pair of pliers or vice grips. That will be a pain, but it's what I would do. Then I would take some better screws and thoroughly fasten down those parts of the deck again.

Also, I guarantee you that those screws are designed for a #2 Phillips bit—aka the worst and most common construction bit that there is. They might be combo screws that can also take a #2 Robertson bit, but even if so those screws are totally trashed. You're probably using the correct bit, you're just trying to drive rusty bullshit.

I have nothing to say about deck paint, except that you should consider visiting a paint store or two (not a hardware store that also sells paint, but a specialist paint store) and discussing your situation with them. You've got what looks like weathered pressure-treated wood, possibly (can't tell in the picture) with the beginnings of an algae problem. You don't say how long you want this to last, but to me I'd be expecting to use this as a five-year stopgap measure while I saved up for a new deck (or for new decking at least, though in my experience homeowners are frequently too optimistic about whether their deck can be recovered or whether it needs to be totally rebuilt). The paint store people are generally pretty knowledgable about the paint that they sell, and they tend to have better quality paint than what you get at the hardware store.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 6:42 AM on April 24, 2016 [1 favorite]

From the picture, your deck doesn't look terrible. I've found that pressure washers can tear up old wood, so on our older deck, I used dish soap and a stiff broom/brush. Please give it a try. It costs very little and the results may not look like a new deck but it gets rid of the mossy look and feels nice and clean underfoot. Then maybe some sealer but not paint.
posted by bonobothegreat at 9:25 PM on April 25, 2016

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