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Guy Gagnon
Porch Finishing

Looking for some finishing advice for a 20 year old porch that has never had a finish on it. Porch is in excellent condition, on the north side of my house in Massachusetts, constructed with 2x6's, exposed to the weather and recently steam pressure washed to remove dirt, grime and mold. Should I paint or stain? If stain; clear, solid, semi solid? Best brand? Primer; yes, no? Would appreciate any advice that will produce a long, lasting finish. Thank you for your participation.

Guy Gagnon

Re: Porch Finishing

You have several choices: transparent, semi-transparent or solid stains. All three have oil or water based versions.

In the transparent or semi-transparent versions, my bias is toward oil based products. They penetrate into the wood and leave no surface film, as do all the water based stains. What this means is that oil stains will never fail due the surface peeling. The down side to oils is that they require frequent re-oiling, as often as yearly. They allow the beauty of the wood to show through, and continue to do so, even after several re-coatings. Water based stains tend to become more opaque with re-coating. There are many good brands of oils; Sikkens, Penefin, Cabot's Timber Oil , to mention a few.

If you are going to use the transparent type stains, the surface must be brought back to almost natural. This is done by a thorough cleaning with one of the deck brighteners. These generally use oxalic acid to bleach out the gray of the wood. Don't use household bleach, as it leaves a silvery patina on the wood. Remember, with the transparent stains, every blemish or coloration will shows through!

Oil stains only require ONE coat. You want the wood to absorb all the oil it wants, but no oil should be left on the surface. If after 15 or 20 minutes oil is still seen on the surface, the excess MUST be wiped off. Any residue will be sticky indefinitely. Oil stains have no chemical driers in them, as do oil paints. They air dry and any excess on the surface will not dry!

Solid hide stains actually give the best long term protection. They are like a thin paint They totally block the UV rays of the sun that break down stains. Now a days, most solid hide decking stains are acrylic and water based. They are self priming. You simply give two coats of the stain. The Behr brand gets "best buy" ratings from Consumers Reports.

Guy Gagnon
Re: Porch Finishing

Thanks for your response Mr. Ordjen. I appreciate your reply because I did not know that Consumer Reports now rates Behr solid stain so highly. When I solid stained my deck several years ago Benjamin Moore Arborcoat was right up there. This is good timing for me because Home Depot has a $10.00 discount per gallon going on with Behr this week.

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