Rust-Oleum Restore® Answers

If you’ve arrived at this page that means you’re considering or have already used Rust-Oleum Restore ® deck coating products. Whether you’ve read reviews, heard from neighbors or experienced firsthand some post-coating concerns, we applaud your thorough research and we’re here to help answer questions and get you to that beautiful deck you deserve. Read on to learn about our history, what proper prep is, how to apply Restore®, or simply to contact us. Let’s get started. 

The Decks of Yesteryear 
If you think like the average homeowner, deck care today is the same tedious task your fathers and grandfathers begrudgingly addressed every one to two years. Sweep with a broom, power wash, apply coating and sternly tell the kids to stay off of it for the next week until the deck is dry. Not to mention dealing with the high probability of drips, splatter and uneven or messy looking finishes. 

If this sounds like what you remember as a child – or worse, is what you currently identify with as an adult – you’re not alone. There are an estimated 40 million U.S. homes with decks 20 years or older. Until very recently, this was the only option for maintaining the life of your deck. All that work, all that time, all that frustration every 12-24 months … wouldn’t you prefer spending a little extra time once every ten years or so versus living your deck’s version of “Groundhog Day?” That’s where Restore® 10X Advanced Resurfacer comes in.

When Rust-Oleum Met Restore® 
Like many great products, Restore® was created out of necessity. More than fifteen years ago, a man was told by a professional inspector that his old wooden boat dock could not be refurbished and would need to be demolished. He cited the deck as being too far gone, complete with a cracked and splintered surface that compromised the dock’s overall stability. 

Instead of giving up, the dock owner relied on his chemistry background and went to work in his lab and created a coating that would fill wooden cracks, provide lasting protection from the elements and make his dock look like new again. The formula worked so well that upon a second visit, the inspector thought he had built a new dock. And thus, the original Restore® 10X was born. 

In 2012, Rust-Oleum acquired Restore®, and like that chemist, built a plan to change and improve upon the outdoor wood care and deck category. With nearly 100 years of experience in the coatings industry, we have developed a full line of 20 products including 2X One Coat Solid Stain, 4X Deck Coat, 12X Transparent Stain & Sealant, a Semi-Transparent Stain and Deck Start Wood Primer that – when prepared and applied correctly – significantly reduce time spent and coats applied. 

That Four-Letter Word: P-R-E-P
Ever tried cooking a frozen pizza without pre-heating the oven? The same idea of proper preparation for desired result is true for successfully coating your deck. When you don’t heat fully to 350 degrees (or in this case, skip some or all of deck preparation), the result is soggy pizza. And who wants that? As a general industry standard, brands and packaging will tell you to “clean, strip and sand” before coating your deck. Unfortunately, common pitfalls get in the way of successful deck prep. The average homeowner might be caught thinking, “I bet that I can get the same results if I skip one step. My deck looks like it doesn’t have a coating.” 

We don’t blame you. But the truth of the matter is that one small, missed detail or step could be the difference between feeling satisfied or not come next season. We have found that one of the most commonly missed details is understanding what “clean” truly means, and we’d like to set the record straight. You might power wash, and you might scrub, and your eyes might tell you that the wood is clean … but seeing is not believing when it comes to your deck. Many don’t realize that their deck boards have a sealant on them because they can’t see it – but that’s exactly what a sealant is supposed to do: blend in. 

Because wood is rough by nature, it is imperative to clean to the bare surface no matter if the deck is stained, weathered, worn or even bare. If the surface is not clean, the wood will not hold the topcoats. Until very recently, the only way to achieve “clean” is through stripping and sanding  - everyone’s least favorite part of the job. Rust-Oleum is proud to announce Restore® Deck Start Wood Primer –added to the product line in 2015 – which is like nothing else on the market and has your back if you just can’t stand stripping and sanding. More on that later. 

Let’s take a look at the three cornerstones Restore® strongly suggests for deck prep: 

Plain and simple and exactly how it sounds. Use a deck brush (brooms won’t be effective) and Restore® Deck & Concrete Cleaner to remove dirt, grease, mildew and any organic growth. Items sticking up from the surface, like loose paint or wood splinters, should be scraped up and off. 

No need to break a sweat here – we’re talking relatively light and quick deck repairs. Fix raised nail heads, screws or loose boards. Have severely damaged or rotting boards? Replace them. For surface cracks more than ¼”, fill with an acrylic, non-silicone filler like Restore® Crack Filler then allow dry time. Dry time may take from one to two hours based on the size of the hole patched and weather.  

At this point, the deck prep is almost complete! Grab a nap roller, saturate, and prime away. In other words, 
Keep the nap roller well covered in Restore® Deck Start Wood Primer and apply evenly to a wet edge with every stroke. 

Because our primer solution strips your deck clean as well as acts as a first, primary coating, we genuinely believe this is your best option for the third and final stage of prep. However, if you choose not to use our primer, you can and should use a deck stripper and sand. Whether you choose to use our primer solution or choose to manually strip and sand, you must be absolutely sure that your prep work has gotten up all hidden remnants before applying topcoats. If you apply topcoats without being absolutely sure that your deck is clean, you could very well be faced with a peeling or bubbling deck several months down the road. The only way to be absolutely sure you've sufficiently prepped is to perform a water splash test. 

Luckily, performing a water splash test is as simple as it sounds and can be done in three easy steps. First, splash water from a water bottle or cup on your deck. We advise a “splash” or small amount because you’ll want to test a small part of the deck. (If you use a whole cup of water or a hose, the area may be harder to assess.) Second, assess the wood where you just splashed water. If it’s absorbing into the wood grain, things are looking up. If it’s sitting on the surface of the wood, this is a sure sign your deck still has old stain or coating on it. Third, repeat splash test in at least three separate areas of the deck – think railing, steps, and where your home exterior meets wood. By testing in several places, and hopefully finding that the water absorbs in each place, you’ll ensure a stronger likelihood that all of your deck is fully clean. 

Ultimately, deck prep for all coatings should be the same – whether you choose to use our products or one of the other guys – yet expectations of product performance changes. The question becomes “how often do you want to prep?” Your answer here determines which resurfacer is best for you and it boils down to this: in a span of many years, would you rather invest one afternoon of deck prep or a total of five afternoons of prep every other year? 

If you don’t mind the latter and significant time investment, there is good news! There are a myriad of traditional resurfacers available to you, ready and waiting at your local home and hardware store. These traditional options require more frequent deck prep and resurfacing because its chemical makeup is thin. The thinner the product, the more easily it will snag, splinter and chip off. If, however, you don’t particularly like deck maintenance and prefer your time spent otherwise, we can help. Restore® 10X Advanced Resurfacer is exactly that – “10X” is approximately ten times thicker and so advanced in technology that it’s revolutionized the life of a deck to ten or more years when applied to a truly clean and uncoated/sealed wooden surface. 

Restore 101
Here’s the million dollar question you’re probably asking: “All this information is great, but what exactly do I need to do to get those Restore® results that hooked me in the first place?” Say no more. Below, in near scientific detail and paraphrased directly from the packaging, are the precise steps we follow to get from Deck A to Deck Beautiful. Note: There are two suggested methods directly on the packaging. 

First, PREP all deck surfaces you plan to finish. 
  1. Clean. 
  2. Repair. 
  3. Prime. 
Second, APPLY two thick coats of Restore® 10X Advanced Resurfacer
  1. Stir thoroughly and often.
  2. Saturate honey-comb roller; roll in one direction – no “back and forth motions.” 
  3. Remove excess between boards with putty knife. 
  4. Dry first coat for minimum four to six hours or until surface is no longer tacky or soft. 
  5. Repeat Steps 1-4 for second coating. 
  6. Dry second coat for minimum 24 hours before walking on it; 48 hours before replacing furniture or until surface is no longer tacky or soft.
  7. Allow seven days for project to fully harden and/or before using deck to entertain. 

Let Us Restore® Your Faith in Us
You may be online reading this particular page because you’ve run into a road block or question with your project while using our products after prepping your deck. Prep, while tedious, is the key to success with any brand of deck coating. We genuinely hate to hear you've reached this hurdle, and will do everything in our power to keep your trust in the Rust-Oleum Restore® brand. 

Please know that we have been keenly listening and learning from your concerns. New this year, we are proud to announce Restore® Deck Start Wood Primer – a direct result from your feedback surrounding the intensity and time commitment to properly prepare your deck.  Like nothing else on the market, our Primer is a precursor to using any topcoat in the category, but more importantly, it is a solution to cutting down on some of the most important Prep work mentioned above. Its simplified preparation means that you don’t have to do even one minute of sanding or stripping. All you have to do is 1) Clean (bookmark to earlier in copy where it talks about “what is clean”), 2) Apply Restore® Deck Start Wood Primer, and 3) Apply Restore® 10X Advanced Resurfacer.  

If your deck coating questions remain unanswered, let us work with you on it. Call us at (800)373-6333 between 7:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. CST, Monday through Friday, or email us any time. We’re eager to remain a part of your family’s deck story for decades to come. Thank you.