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April 14, 2013 AsktheBuilder Newsletter

Tomorrow I'll be at the Boston Marathon working as a ham radio operator. Nearly 100 ham operators help provide critical communications all along the course. I'll be at First Aid Station 12 at Mile 18.3.

It will be a very long day with me leaving the house about 4:30 am. Fortunately the weather forecast is very nice.

58 F and sunny is what the weather folks say is going to happen. Last year it was the hottest Boston Marathon on record. I believe it topped out at about 93 F. It was brutal for all involved.


This is a Special Edition of the AsktheBuilder.com newsletter. It's devoted entirely to my 2013 Deck Stain Test Results

Does this describe you last year or possibly two or three years ago?

You walk out onto your dingy wood deck in the spring and decide to clean and seal it. You spend hours and hours cleaning it (hopefully you decided to use my Stain Solver since it's non-toxic, won't hurt your plants, won't discolor the wood and it's Certified Organic) and then, once dry, you get ready to stain/seal it.

But here's where you hit a snag. There are lots of sealers to choose from, and they're expensive.

Perhaps you listen to the advice of a salesman or store clerk, but they've got a dog in the fight.

Or maybe you subscribe to a magazine that does an annual deck stain test. But are their tests accurate? Are they testing all the right products?

Or maybe you read something on the Internet. Can you trust that? Was a real test conducted? What are the qualifications of the person at the website you visited?

Then you look at the prices of the sealers. Wow!

Some are less than $20 per gallon, but many are north of $35 per gallon. If your deck is average size and you have railings and steps, you could drop easily $100 and quite possibly $175 in product - maybe more for a really large deck.

Think about how much time it will take you to apply the sealer. Even with a helper, it could take an entire weekend to carefully brush on the sealer. Some products require two coats!

You can't afford to make a mistake. Not with this kind of money and time on the line. Plus, you have to spend the rest of the year looking at the results each day as you sit on the deck or look out the window at your deck.

You don't want a sealer that's going to turn BLACK in a few months or one that will peel and look miserable. Check out the photo below. It was the overall Loser.


What happens if you make a mistake and pick the wrong product? One that fails in as little as three months! Yes it can happen, because several of the products I tested last year started to fail in just 60 days.

I don't know about you, but I'd be pretty upset to put in all that time and money and see the wood deck look bad. As we all know, the wood looks marvelous as soon as it's sealed, often like a piece of furniture, but things can go downhill in a hurry if you choose the wrong sealer.

If you're sealing your deck every year or two on a quest for the best sealer, it could take you over 15 years to find the right one. Who wants to wait that long and invest that kind of time and expense? Not me!


For years, I've interviewed deck sealer manufacturers and visited their manufacturing plants. I've gone on other plant tours looking at other outdoor building products plants.

At many of these places, I've seen outdoor testing in progress. You'll see lots of wood, siding, decking products on display all exhibiting different levels of wear.

I always wanted to do that, but could never set aside the time. Believe me, it takes some time and money to set up the test.

After receiving many emails from subscribers, you may have been one, I decided last year it was time to invest in such a project.

There's a major consumer magazine that does testing and reports, but for years I felt its deck stain test was flawed. They never tested a few of the major brands made with synthetic resins. I even asked the editors of the magazine about this oversight, and they blew me off.

In preparation for the test, I contacted all of the major deck and wood stain manufacturers early last spring. I created a document for all the companies explaining exactly how I was going to do the test to show them it would be fair.

Nine companies had no issues participating. Many others declined to have their products tested. What does that tell you? It speaks volumes to me.

I would have loved to have done the test in south Florida, the desert Southwest or even up in the Rocky Mountains where conditions are very harsh.

But instead, I settled on quaint New Hampshire right here at my house. I live on a lake and my dock sticks out from the shore about 40 feet. The dock gets sun starting at sunrise and it bakes it until about 3 p.m. each day. When it's sunny, the test boards get absolutely no relief. There's absolutely no shade and no protection from water.

When you think about it, testing at my house is probably not a bad place. It gets the four seasons, plenty of sun and harsh winter weather that can really test a deck sealer.


I was astonished at the final results.

The product I thought would win the test didn't.

The product I thought would lose the test WON the test!

As I said, some products failed in 90 days. One product looked nearly as good last week when I took the after photos as the day it was brushed on the wood. It was the clear winner. Another product came in a close second.

One thing you'll see in the photos is a shocking buildup of mold and mildew on many of the cedar boards. Some of this is from the actual sealer in my opinion. Many of the sealers were oil-based, and the oil is food for the mildew and algae.

But look CLOSELY at the photos. What do you see that's similar about every piece of treated lumber? The treated lumber samples are always the shorter pieces of wood and on the right in the photos.

Can you see any mildew and mold on those? They were coated with the same products! The boards were only inches from one another on the dock. Why is there no mold and mildew on the treated lumber? I believe I know the answer. Do you?

I've been talking about this test for a year now. I've invested a boatload of time and resources into it. I promised I'd share the photos and names of the products. You can see those in a simple document you can download at no cost.

CLICK HERE for the Free Preview Report that shows ALL of the Before and After photos and has the names of the products that were tested.

However, if you want to match up the names of the products with the Before and After photos, you'll have to make a small investment, just like I did to conduct the test. If you don't wish to do that, you can roll the dice and hope you pick the winner.

You'll see links in the FREE Preview Report for the Premium Report where I match up products with photos.

The cost of the report could save you big money, time and frustration. You'll be able to see what products did really well in the test. You'll be able to avoid the products that failed. What's that worth to you?

New Test for 2014 - Get a DISCOUNT NOW!!

I've decided to start a new test this year. It's going to include as many sealers as I can get my hands on.

The money raised from selling this year's report is going to fund this new test. Believe me, purchasing many cans of product and paying for the shipping can get very expensive very fast.

If you decide to invest in the AsktheBuilder.com 2013 Deck Stain Report, it includes a promo code for 40% off the 2014 AsktheBuilder.com Deck Sealer Report. That's a pretty sweet deal if you ask me.

Thanks for your trust and eternal patience with me.


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