The Rot Doctor


Subject: Deck Repair Guidance
Date: Wed, 22 May 2002

Dr. Rot, I have a deck that is four years old, it is made of 5/4" pressure treated wood (pine). The 2 biggest issues I have are splintering and cracking. It has become a big issue. My kids are getting slivers and itís driving me slightly over the bend, but it goes beyond that too. I feel that the deck is to new to rip up and replace with Trex. My house faces north/south so the deck is constantly in sunlight. When I first built it, it was treated with Flood Co. Seasonite. The next year I applied Cabots. I know these 2 products are good, but they can only do so much. My neighbors have the same problem. They rented a floor sander, refinished the surface and re-coated it. I have heard this is not a good idea, your thoughts? Basically, is there something (a product) I can do to fill in the cracks and splinters so they do not pose a problem? Again, I do not want to rip up my deck. Dimensions 16x25 upper and 12x16 lower. Thanks.

John M.


Yes, your problem is a chronic one for decks with the kind of exposure you describe. The sanding/refinishing will solve the problem for awhile, but it will return.

And you're right that there are no common stains or finishes that will stop this from happening. The problem occurs because of sun heat, and UV light. UV light gradually degrades wood. The standard deck stains are generally petroleum-based, and they degrade rather quickly under direct sunlight.

Unfortunately the only good solution is an opaque coating on the deck surface, because that reflects back the sunlight and totally blocks UV light. A standard paint will work, although not for long, and it produces a slick surface. If you can tolerate the idea of an opaque coating, we can suggest our RHINO TOP, ideally laid down over wood that has been treated first with CPES for bonding and wood protection from bacteria and fungi. There are several colors, and these can be lightened by mixing one color with the white. It comes in a nonskid formula, the sand already incorporated into the mix. It's water-based and goes down easily. Two coats are required, with coverage being about 200 sq ft per gallon. It can be spot retouched easily as required.

Beyond that, for a "permanent" 10++ year coating there is the Elasta-Tuff™ 6000-AL-HS. Same colors. This is very tough stuff, and you add the sand to get the nonskid. Expensive, though.

Cost is somewhat of an issue with these high-end coatings. I would guess you would need 4 gallons of the CPES @ about $300.00, and then 6 gallons of the RHINO-TOP at about $210.00. This would be your least-expensive opaque coating.

I wish there was a good answer for your problem, but there just isn't. There are UV-resistant clear coatings, but they are basically nothing more than marine-grade varnish, which goes for around $100.00/gallon, produces a slick surface, requires at least 3 coats, and has to be completely redone annually. Ask any boat-owner with topside varnish! We have a home with two broad decks and they are doing the same exact thing yours is. We are going to RHINO-TOP them this summer.

Hope this has been of some help, and please come back if you have additional questions or comments.


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