Deck Work

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Lost and Found

 Deck Maintenance

Between the Boards


Basic rear deck in Santa Cruz California that is obviously clogged with debris, making water runoff impossible.  Many times boards that have been built too close to one another, after years and years, will fuse together, making the removable of debris a potential impossibility.  This wasn’t the case for this eight year old deck on 14th Avenue.  If you’re having a new deck built, make sure your builder knows how to properly space the boards for the long haul.

Of course you do, but explain what you mean!?!  Which slice of natural do you want your brand new deck to look like?  Do you want it to look exactly like it did or does the day it was completed?  Do you want it to look like the guy or gal who built it says it should look?  Natural Blonde or Brunette?  Naturally Grey perhaps?  Do you want it to look natural today and tomorrow?  What about in six months, still natural?  What about six years?   
It’s Relative and It’s For Real

Custom Deck Maintenance in Santa Cruz

Shingles, Arbors, Fences, Privacy Areas

Whole House

In The Wash

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?

I’m Gorgeous Inside

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!

Are You Ready?  Alpine Meadows, CA

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…..

Call or email today.  Decks, Arbors, Fences, Shingle Siding

State-of-Art Custom Transparents

Santa Cruz, Scotts Valley, Felton, Boulder Creek

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 is a new Redwood Deck off Escalona Drive in Santa Cruz built in early October 2018 that was washed and stained in late May 2019.

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.

This is Ipe’ in Santa Cruz.  Same deck, same corner of deck, same exact transparent blend.  Just a different angle, and a different time of day.  Santa Cruz County Deck Maintenance.

This was a new(ish) east-facing backyard deck up near UCSC.  This redwood deck was built in the late summer 2016.  This client happened to be an accomplished wood worker himself, and knew the importance of letting brand new redwood boards age in place.  He and his wife happened to wait a couple years, which certainly was not too long given the fact that the deck only gets morning sun til about 2pm.

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Naturally, the deck had opened up, and oxidized grey.  Obviously it cleaned up very nicely.  The clients wanted a dark, richer tone to match the modern look of their home.  We used a Butternut Tone blend from Extreme by Defy.  We washed and stained some of their Ipe’ furniture as well.

Another quality deck maintenance project completed in Santa Cruz County. 

Beautiful Deck on The Peninsula.  My second time out to this property, first time being 2014.  This deck takes 6+ hours of hot afternoon sun daily.

Water Bead Test more to show just how natural the finished look of the Extreme Stain by Defy is when professionally applied.  This combination is 1/4 Driftwood Grey, 1/4 Light Walnut, 1/4 Cedar, 1/8 Redwood, 1/8 Butternut.


This A-client waited as long as she was capable of waiting before telling me to stop telling her to wait.  It was going to be that classic case of client always being right, even though I always know best.  The Lowdown: It’s new wood, and was just built a couple months prior.  It had definitely turned a little.  And by turned I mean that the brand new pinkish white look had faded some.  There were bird droppings all over.  Many of the boards had already pushed out additional sap.  It was no dirtier than it should have been.  If it were my deck, I definitely would have waited another 4 months, which would have meant like half the upcoming winter.  Well the client wasn’t having any more of my logic, and I was happy to cave in to her request.  They are close friends and special clients to me.

I will be keeping a close eye on this new entryway.  It’s right in my neighborhood, and I’m always curious.  Especially when I reluctantly cave in to a work related request.

Transparent Stain is Extreme by Defy(Dark Tone)

Santa Cruz Deck Maintenance

Pressure Washing, Custom Staining

There were several factors that lead to me agreeing to perform this solid color makeover.  It was a full wash, and a partial stain.  We stained all the flooring, the top piece of the rail, and too many accents boards to name.  I ensured the client that I would tie everything together symmetrically.  The goal was to find that balance between investing the right amount into this 30 year old deck.  We used a Flood Product that we purchased from King’s Paint & Paper.  I forget the exact color.  It was my only time working with a solid decking stain this particular deck maintenance season, and by the end of the job, I was reminded 1000x why.  To me it felt like I was applying chocolate fudge everywhere.  In the end however, and yes it took an additional ten hours of honest labor for me to get to that particular end, the results were quite nice.  Most importantly, the client loved it.  As always, I was the harsher critic.. 

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More Ipe’.  This is a beautiful deck.  It’s at least eight years old.  The deck is likely 10-12 years old.  It gets filtered sun throughout most the day.  It sits beneath two pretty good sized Oak Trees.  A really nice design with every board having to be cut 2x.  Upper Prospect Heights Santa Cruz California.  The pictures tell most the story. 

The clients had been living here for eight years.  They hadn’t done anything to the deck since moving in other than regularly blow off the abundance of leaves and debris, and a couple times per year the homeowner would bust out his Target Pressure Washer and give it what he probably referred to as a deeper cleaning.  Outside of that, the Ipe’ just sat there and endured summer after summer, winter after winter.

Obviously from the pictures, it was pretty filthy.  Thankfully, it cleaned up real nice.  I’d like to point out picture #3.  You can see the reflection in the standing water.  That means only one thing.  The spaces between the boards are crammed with debris.  Water proves to just as much damage to wood boards as does sun.  And slippery when wet!  Picture #4 is a dry look of the staining process.  We used Extreme by Defy, a blended tone.

Santa Cruz Deck Maintenance

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