For this particular deck in Ben Lomond area I finished half of it and then came back like a week later to finish the second half. Long story. Nonetheless, I quickly rewashed the side that I hadn’t put stain on and because of that I was able to get a picture that might just be worth those thousand words.
The boards on the right side of the picture are the deck boards that just got washed again and are in the process of drying. These are new boards. Actually they are about 14 months new. Most people with new decks, when referencing a tone, say that they like how the deck looks when the boards are wet. And I understand what they mean by that. And what they really mean by that is that they like how clean, new, and wet boards look. And that’s because dirty, new, wet boards are too slick to appreciate the tone.
This is a blend of sorts. A little red, some cedar, some butternut tone. The mistake is usually to use too light of a tone. And it’s not that the darker the tone, the better. There is a way to make a tone appear dark when it needs to appear dark, yet appear light when it should seem light.
The boards on the left side of this picture are finished. Washed, Stained, dried, finished. It’s about as natural as one would ever want, yet this is NOT the result of using a quote unquote natural tone.
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Here’s a fairly new hardwood deck, three years old max. This picture shows a finished swatch up against boards that haven’t even been washed. The home is off Graham Hill Road between Santa Cruz and Roaring Camp. The picture was taken at 10:45am, without sun, in early May 2020 as the morning dew was finally burning off.
These photos were taken during a washing process. Both taken early in the morning. One with the sun behind the lens, and the other looking into the sun. You can see that the washed and unwashed portion of this deck in Live Oak takes on a different look depending on time of day, direction, and the list goes on. The same kaleidoscope phenomenon will also become present when a quality stain is ultimately applied to these clean boards. Capice?
Beautifully constructed deck in the Santa Cruz Mountains. This is the landing portion of the staircase that connects the upper and lower portions of the deck.
It should be noted that this style of rail construction will not only provide a better view and a better feel, but will also save you big time $$ with maintenance.
Note to all Deck Builders.
Space out the boards properly or you are doing your client a major disservice in the end. The boards need to be separated beyond the old school of thought that suggested the separation needs to be no wider than the width of the nail or screw heads that are being used to build the deck. How much wider depends on many factors. Too many factors to mention actually. Just make sure they are spaced out properly for long term wear/tear and of course maintenance. And while you are at it, you might suggest softening the edges for your client. Softening along the boards, AND the ends of the boards make so much difference in look and feel.
*Here’s a real nice example in Capitola. I could have chosen perhaps a more relatable measuring device like the depth of an iPhone8 inside one of those fat Otterbox cases, not the iPhone8 itself. And there in lies the difference!
These are steps obviously. These steps lead up to a front door. They are used fairly regularly though not everyday, all day. The steps get filtered afternoon sun. The steps were built in summer 2018, and a few months after being built, the client wanted them stained with a very dark tone that the stain manufacturer calls Butternut. It turned out beautiful. To die for actually.
Fast forward one year, and just one year and this is what the steps look like. Warn down in the middle of each and every step yet holding stain nicely on both sides of the middle. Could this have been prevented?
The answer is Yes and No.
Santa Cruz Aptos Soquel Seascape Scotts Valley Felton Live Oak Capitola
This is Batu Hardwood, AKA Mangaris This is the lower deck which for the great most part is completely sheltered from both rain and sun. That being said, I used a very neutral tone with significantly less pigment. The end result was(is) an extremely well protected deck with a very natural look. There’s that word again.
This brand new deck in Santa Cruz was a pleasure and challenge wrapped into one. Springtime proved to be way too consistently variable with heavy rains and winds during the three week span it took me to properly wash and stain this Clear Cedar Deck near Steamer Lane.
These pictures are both taken around 11am after one of the heavier springtime Santa Cruz storms in decades. I chose to showcase them side by side because they tell one of the more important stories regarding deck maintenance. For another time…..
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I know why water beading doesn’t get old even though it isn’t the “end all” indicator as to whether or not a wood deck is in need of maintenance. It is however safe to say that if water is beading on your deck, there is likely plenty of product protecting the boards.
These photos are of identical nature, taken one after the other, at 3pm in the shade. They help explain a thing or three which likely answers many questions. Hopefully yours too.
Where you see water beading means that those boards have been washed and stained AND the stain is dry. Where you see water that has penetrated the wood means that those boards have been washed only. It’s safe(enough) to say that the stained boards don’t look all that much different than the wet boards.(And for the record, the “wet” boards are really only damp, certainly not soaked.)
This photo lined up nicely to show some tone examples. The picnic table isn’t quite as new as the deck itself, the deck was newly constructed early in the summer 2019. The location is the Pleasure Point area of Live Oak.
We waited about three months before washing and applying the initial coat of stain. We chose a very neutral tone,(middle portion of deck) almost a base coat for the deck, and fattened the picnic table up with a much more aggressive, darker bit of pigment.
All shots worth sharing, especially if you have a cedar deck, in this case Clear Cedar. Again, each picture here can definitely tell its own story. This deck is under a year old with a horror story or two attached to it prior to me getting my hands on it. We decided on a very neutral transparent pigment. The client wanted to begin the process slowly, promising to maintain the deck as needed. The goal to begin this deck’s journey was to create a tone that would look like the deck looks when it gets wet. This beauty takes on eight hours of hot sun per day in the summer time.