Advice on staining two docks

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Old 05-06-16, 08:32 PM
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Advice on staining two docks

I have two 4' x 40' Tommy Dock cedar docks at my cottage. When they were about two years old we cleaned both up and stained them with Cabot semi transparent stain. The one dock turned out great but the other we had issues with the stain peeling so I need to restain them this spring.

I've read a lot about sanding, stripping and/or pressure washing but I'm not sure which method would be the best for my docks. We have a shallow well so I'd be a little worried about using any harmful chemicals as it could get in our drinking water. Could I just scrub them with bleach, then pressure wash them? Or what would you recommend? Could I then again them while they're on the lake or would them being over water make the stain not adhere right? I've never had a deck or anything so this is relatively new to me. Any help would be greatly appreciated!
 
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Old 05-06-16, 08:41 PM
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Go easy on the bleach if you bleach it. Bleaching will whiten the wood but it also destroys the fibers of the wood and the power washer will really fuzz the wood up if you go too strong with the bleach. Power washing wood decks will often fuzz the deck either way if the head on the sprayer is too aggressive (too high psi). Power washing is probably a good idea, just a few cautions to be aware of.

When you stain, try and do it on a cool cloudy day. When it's hot and/or sunny the stain can dry on the surface of the wood before it has a chance to penetrate then it acts more like paint, which can lead to peeling. That may be why one turned out well, and the other didnt, if you did one in the morning and the other in the heat of the day.
 
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Old 05-06-16, 08:55 PM
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Thanks for the reply! I have a 2800 psi pressure washer that I was planning on using the 40 degree tip on. Would that be safe? These docks were pretty expensive so I don't want to mess up the wood. Is solely pressure washing them good enough or do I need to get all the stain off? I just checked and I originally used a semi transparent and now I will be using a semi solid.
 
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Old 05-06-16, 09:24 PM
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That's a pretty strong power washer... the 40 degree head is fine, and you will want to keep the nozzle about 16 to 24" away from the wood... any closer and you risk blowing the surface layers away. You will want to scrub the deck with a synthetic bristle brush on a broom handle, and just use the power washer to rinse. Watch your lap marks, try and use the same angle and sweeping motion as you move in an orderly fashion, pushing all the dirty water off in one direction... not helter-skelter.

If the old doesn't come off I wouldn't worry overly much. Main thing is getting it clean before you recoat. If you were going the other way... semi transparent over semi solid, you would need to strip the old completely.
 
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Old 05-07-16, 03:41 AM
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Are there any recoat restrictions listed on the label? Some stains [mostly waterborne] have a recoat window that must be adhered to in order to insure good adhesion. After the window has closed you need to either remove the stain or let it weather off. The odds are you'll be ok either way once the dock is cleaned.

I always use a bleach/water solution to clean decks. You never ever want the solution stronger than 50% bleach! Bleach can destroy wood fibers. As mentioned above too much pressure or too close with the wand will fuzz up the wood. It's easy to get lulled into getting closer to the wood with the tip because it looks like you are really cleaning it good but knowing what can happen will help you resist that urge

I agree the stain drying too fast was the likely reason one stain failed while the other did ok.
 
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Old 05-07-16, 05:58 AM
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You may not have this restriction, but painting/staining/cleaning decks with chemicals will cause water pollution. We live near a TVA lake and such activity is closely monitored. I was working on a house where the dock painters were spray painting the metal on a dock, and the overspray landed in the water. Needless to say all the water lines on boats and docks in the immediate vicinity were red. Not very profitable for the painter that day.
 
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Old 05-07-16, 05:58 AM
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Would it be okay to clean it, then put it in the lake and stain it at a later date? They don't get wet other than when it rains, but being over water I don't know if they take in moisture or not
 
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Old 05-07-16, 06:06 AM
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I don't think I've ever stained more than a couple of docks. The moisture shouldn't be a big deal for the top of the decking. The biggest issue is if you go too long between cleaning and staining - the wood might need to be cleaned again.
 
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