Building a deck, stain now or later?


As I mentioned in an earlier thread, I'm having a deck built by a contractor that I don't completely trust. So when he gives me advice that seems out of the ordinary, I tend to question it.
The floor of the deck is being built with Severe Weather deck boards, and all of the framing is built with Severe Weather boards, too (with the exception of the hand rail). These boards seem more wet than other wood that I've used, and I don't know if it's the type of wood that is more heavily treated, or just because it rained here last week.
Is it better to go ahead and paint/stain the wood immediately, to prevent it from drawing up? Or should I wait until it dries out before treating it? If I should wait, then how long should I wait?
TIA,
Jason
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If Severe weather wood is pressure treated , it is common for it to be wet , plus you said it rained...Duh...I'd stain it next spring as it won't have time to dry enough to stain this fall unless you are in the deep south or Cal. , ect........ Pressure treated wood needs ATLEAST a couple of months to dry properly....
With construction work at a near standstill you could have had your choice of contractors to build your deck , so I'm kinda wondering why you hired somebody you don't trust and question his advice ??? Price ???
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I'm in North Carolina, so it's the South, but not the DEEP South. :-) But that's cool, I can wait until Spring.
As for why I hired this contractor... I sent it out for bids and had several replies, but most of the contractors that responded seemed pretty incompetent. 3 of them gave me a quote without ever seeing the project! This one asked all the right questions, and came across as more competent than the others when we got an estimate... until the actual work started.
We're only a few days into the construction, but I've found several problems that I've had to make him go back and correct (like, putting the 4x4 supports on cinderblocks, instead of cementing them into the ground). And he keeps arguing that I've changed the plans, when in fact he's either forgotten the plan, misunderstood the plan (in spite of a drawn rendering, drawn to scale), or he is simply hoping that I will have forgotten so that he can get away with crap work (which is what I suspect). Today, he was supposed to have been working from 8am until 5pm, but the crew ended up getting here at 10am and knocked off sometime between 1pm and 2:30pm, leaving the framing half finished when the schedule called for the framing to be completely finished today.
These are issues that I wouldn't have known until construction began, and now my options are to either continue with him, or to hire someone else to finish the job with the hopes that they're available immediately.
You have to realize that I'm in a pretty rural area, so I don't exactly have a lot of professional contractor options to choose from. Most of them are just unemployed people that will swear that they can build a deck, even though they've never actually built one before.
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.
That's a major red flag. Around here, NJ, code requires proper poured footers and you need a permit to put in a deck. Which shows that there are benefits to requiring a permit.
If things get out of hand with the contractor, you could find out if a permit is required. If it is and he hasn't pulled one, which is his responsibility, you have some major leverage. You could call in the building inspector to straighten his ass out.
What was to be done to support the deck should have been spec'd in the contract.
Did you go look at several other decks he actually built and talk to the owners?

That's not unusual for many contractors, regardless of the quality of the work.
Regarding the original question, I would wait to stain for a few months, which probably means spring.

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> I'm in North Carolina, so it's the South, but not the DEEP South. :-)

Welcome to North Carolina. I just moved into a house in western NC. Actually, it took about 1 year from the initial permit to the certificate of occupancy. The 10 to 2:30 thing was normal on many, many days. Once I sold my old house and was living in a motor home, I told my builder that before I didn't care about speed, but now I was pushing. I lived in the motor home for 5 months. I complained to the contractor that there were periods of 5 or 6 days where not one worker stepped foot in my house. After that, there was always someone around, even if it were only a few hours. As for the footings, here there is basically no frost line here. In my old area up north, the frost line was 40". In this house some of my footings and foundations are way overkill because my builder likes to build in lots of safety margins. But I paid for that margin. My footings on the attached deck are only about a foot deep, but they are concrete. But, there are whole houses built on concrete blocks in this area. Of course, if your contract, either verbally or written, said concrete and not block, that's different. I, too, would prefer concrete. BTW, here they just dug a hole and mixed some concrete, poured it in the hole and later attached the deck post to it with metal fittings.
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Art Todesco wrote:

(snip)
problems that I've had to make him go back and correct (like, putting

(snip)
. My footings on the

Contractor may have been (sort of) in the right here. You don't set wood posts in concrete on permanent structures. You pour a 'deep enough' pad, preferably 6-8 inches above dirt level, and put a metal standoff on it to attach the post to. In no-frost country, you can maybe get away with the precast pier blocks, but a footer is better.
Only time you put wood in concrete is fence posts, and even there you put several inches of gravel in the bottom so water can drain. You never want wood sitting in a concrete pocket with no place for water to drain away.
-- aem sends...
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.
Contractors usually juggle a couple or three jobs. Having them go and come and strange hours is pretty normal. Concrete blocks used to support the framing is also normal on small decks. I have had to wait a year or was it two before staining pressure treated wood.
Jimmie
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...
BTW NC has a lot of variability on frost line. Most of the state except for the mountains has a 0 inch frost line and CMU's are OK.
Jimmie
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Which moron thinks immediatly, it cant be the contractor since you are the one worried, its wet, its sept, it may not be dry enough in my north area till January 2010, so I would have to possibly wait till next spring, But dont ask when, know when. Go buy a moisture meter and save your contractor all the agravation you will be giving him on this. If you Googled and read first you would not be posting asking if "painting wet wood is ok" Hey the first thing everybody knows you dont do is paint or stain Wet Wood. Google Moisture Meter, cheap ones are about 40$. I bet the contractor says wait.
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wrote:

I do not understand why you signed on with a contractor you do not trust.
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I'm on about my 6th deck, and although I'm not familiar with the treated wood that you mentiuon, I have never had any luck with getting a deck surface to take a stain until it has weathered for at least a couple of months. Last time we decided to stain before the wood had weathered and the pores opened, we ended up sanding the entire thing next spring and starting over.
Paint on a deck? I personally wouldn't go that route unless I had no choice. If so, ensure it has a non-skid treatment.
Good luck, and keep your eyes on that contractor. Sounds like a "rounded corner" kind of guy.
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Thanks for the advice, all.
I didn't think that too much detail was necessary, but just so that there's no confusion... the contractor had actually flip-flopped on his advice. At first, he said to wait until Spring so that the wood would dry out, but then later he mentioned going to Texas for the winter. So after my other concerns developed, I thought that he might have suggested waiting just so that he could keep the contract. Then later, he mentioned that one of the guys in his crew would be able to come in October to stain it, which contradicted his earlier logic that it needed to dry out first.
I could guess that you wouldn't stain WET wood, but I wasn't sure if it would need to dry for a couple of weeks, or several months. Based on your advice here, though, I think that I'll just save up to have the whole house painted in the Spring, and then have the deck stained at that time. By a different contractor, of course!
Gwandsh, I'm thinking about painting the framing, step risers, and underpinning, but then staining the handrails, 4x4s, and flooring. But of course, that might change by the Spring! My original plan, though, was to have dark brown (not quite black) framing, risers, and underpinning, then stained brown 4x4s and handrails that would be a similar shade to the house trim, and then a lighter stain of flooring that would be complementary to the house color.
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Sounds pretty nice. We have two decks on our place right now. One is sunwood built over pressure treated structure. The deck surface and railings are stained a clear cedar, as we wish the woodgrain to be enhanced. The uprights and visible support members are stained a darker redwood tone, not that they needed stain (being PT), but because it lends a certain amount of UV protection and the color contrast is nice. I strongly suggest you set aside a good supply of stain for future use if you mix for special colors like we did.
The other deck is a man-made plastic/wood composite that weathers down to a pale grey. On that deck we painted the (already painted) uprights and exposed support structure to match the house.
My comment about painting should have specified horizontal deck surfaces. We had a painted deck on an older home we bought, and until I replaced it with a composite product, it was always high-maintenance as well as downright slippery. BTW, we are in Portland , OR, so we know wet decks ;-)
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Talk with these guys about slippery surfaces. They fixed my slippery bathtub and slippery tile floors in my bathroom. They are now safe. They can treat and fix virtually any slippery surface including slippery marble found in lobbys.
http://www.slipdoctors.com
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