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Home improvement stores have been stocking products in the paint section that appear to put a thick coating on the deck boards, giving them the appearance of synthetic decking. They claim to offer superior protection to the lumber, and eliminate splinters, nail-holes and minor cracks, and they claim a homeowner can apply them over the course of a weekend.

Do these deck coatings work as claimed? How durable are they? How difficult is it to apply them? Will they cause the wood to rot by sealing in moisture?

What makes one coating product more desirable than another? What dangers or pitfalls should we look out for?

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4 Answers 4

The jury is still out on these types of products. I was at a contractors day at my local Lowes and the rep from one of the manufactures of the epoxy style coverings was there demonstrating the product. The end result was a smooth, not sandy, but mottled non skid finish. the dried samples on display revealed about an 1/8" coating on the wood. I did spend a little time talking with the rep and he cautioned that the wood needs to be clean and free of any loose decay, oil or grease (like from a BBQ). Any loose nails should be replaced, better if the deck was screwed down so nails would not work up through the new finish. He did not claim that this was a "fix" for rotting wood or a surface in very bad condition. This product seems to me to be an alternative to conventional sealers or stain. The claim to fame is that it will outlast regular sealers and stain for years. The previous points about spacing and the top of the joists are very valid. My biggest concern is the holding ability if used over bad wood. I think lots of people will try this hoping to stretch the lives of aging decks. Since this product is so new, there are few anecdotal cases with which to compare it. I might be tempted to try if if a customer insists on it, but think I'll wait until I get some feedback from other contractors or users. the cost is also a consideration, it is expensive.

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I'd never use it on a customer's deck unless they accepted that I will not warranty it. In fact I've had issues with different coating products in the past enough that I don't do coatings anymore anyway. I either recommend painters or sub it out. Every company out there claims their products are the best thing since sliced bread. Even reputable companies have products that fail (including but not limited to Benjamin Moore). Never use new stuff unless you don't have a problem redoing it all in short time. –  fungku Apr 3 '13 at 19:27
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@ decker: I agree with you totally –  shirlock homes Apr 3 '13 at 20:32
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I think they address the biggest single problem with wooden decking, the effects of sun and water on horizontal surfaces. Application over rotten wood, damp wood, etc, will likely cause failures of the coatings (or any coating, for that matter)

That said, there are other deck problems that the coatings DON'T address:

  • Too tight spacing of deck boards , reducing drainage. The thickness of these coatings will make tight spacing worse. You must clean out the "toejamb" between your boards yearly or face side rot of the decking
  • flashing issues at ledger: you may plug the drainage gap.
  • lack of waterproofing over joist tops
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We put one of these on our deck last summer. They are essentially latex pain mixed with very fine sand. Our deck was in OK shape we had some boards with cracks and splinters in them but generally alright. The recommended application thickness was far too thick for me and I ended up adding water to it.

The end result turned out alright, the paint filled in the cracks on the deck and has kept splinters from coming through which is nice. HerrBag makes a good point about problems with it blocking drainage particularly if there isn't sufficient spacing already.

The surface is pretty rough think of walking on sand paper and I watered mine down a bit.

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I've used the Rustoleum product. They coat the surface well, but it MUST be very dry. Pre, during and post-application. Wait for a hot dry spell for best results. I don't know how well it will hold up, though. Time will tell.

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protected by Community Sep 3 '13 at 2:01

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