painting exterior horizontal wood surfaces

I have a wrap-around porch with cedar deck boards.
The previous owner painted the deck boards with a latex paint.
Most of the paint is in good shape, but there is a high-traffic sun-and-rain-exposed section, about 200 square feet, that is peeling very badly.
I don't have the time and energy to strip this down completely to bare new wood, so I am trying to come up with an alternate plan. I don't want to power-sand or use a chemical stripper. I don't have the energy to handle the resulting mess.
Here are some options I've come up with:
1) Use a handheld scraper to remove the large blisters, wipe with a damp cloth to remove dust and dirt, and apply a self-priming latex as I go. This allows me to tackle the job a little bit at a time, since the latex dries fast and cleans up easily.
2) Use a handheld scraper to remove the large blisters, wipe with a damp cloth to remove dust and dirt, and apply a clear penetrating water-based sealant to soak into the areas of exposed wood. This allows me to tackle the job a little bit at a time. When I'm finally finished scraping and applying sealant, go back to the beginning and start applying a latex topcoat over the sealant (where it was applied over the blisters I scraped off) and the previous latex topcoat (where it wasn't blistering and didn't get scraped off).
3) Use a handheld scraper to remove the large blisters, wipe with a cloth dampened in mineral spirits to remove dust and dirt, and apply a clear penetrating oil-based sealant to soak into the areas of exposed wood. When I'm finally finished scraping and applying sealant, go back to the beginning and start applying an oil-based primer over the sealant (where it was applied over the blisters I scraped off) and the previous latex topcoat (where it wasn't blistering and didn't get scraped off). When I'm finished with that, go back and put a latex topcoat over the primer.
4) Blast the area with a pressure washer to remove blistering paint. Wait till it dries, then start applying a self-priming latex as in option 1, or a water-based sealant as in option 2.

from a paint integrity point of view, this approach leaves a bit to be desired. But, in the future, if I get more peeling, I can just spot-treat in the same manner.
I would like to use Option 2, because it is almost as easy as Option 1, and it seems like it would yield a better result. The only problem is, I haven't been able to find a water-based sealant that explicitly says on the label that it can be painted over. Does anyone know of such a product?
I'd rather not do Option 3, because of the hassle of working with solvent-based products, especially when working incrementally which results in many clean-up cycles. I have a gallon of clear oil-based sealant (Do It Best Waterproofing Sealer #770779) that is absolutely amazing at penetrating into the wood, and the label explicitly says it can be overcoated with an oil-based primer once it dries. This gallon of sealant was left over from the previous owner and is probably 10 years old. Despite much searching, I have not been able to locate any similar product available today which which explicitly allows over-painting.
As for Option 4, I could borrow or rent or buy a pressure washer, but cedar is a very soft wood and I'm concerned about damage, and I'm not sure it would work as well as physically scraping with a handheld scraper.
Are there any readers out there who have dealt with a similar situation? Please share any war stories or success stories you may have.
Thanks.
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Buy a high quality latex bonding primer. Scrape a section and paint as you go. Top coat when ready. This will not give you the same level of protection as using an oil based primer and a latex topcoat but I have had pretty good results over the years with old wood and this process. With new wood or not cedar I would insist on your using an oil based primer.
Only put a small amount of primer in you "working pail" and keep it covered with a damp cloth while not actively dipping into it. You may have to add a minute quantity of water to keep it in a liquid state. Use an older brush and rinse it often.
Colbyt
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Colbyt wrote:

Can you recommend a specific product brand and model?
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In the past I have used a local brand. I can come up with a couple of guidelines or maybe names.
What outlets do you have to choose from?
Colbyt
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Colbyt wrote:

Menard's Lowe's Home Depot True Value Hardware Ace Hardware HWI/DoItBest Hardware Sherwin Williams WalMart
Do you know of any water-based clear penetrating wood sealant that can be overpainted when it has dried?
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The Kiltz exterior primer from Lowes or HD may be good enough. Sherwin Williams should have a product. Any real paint store will have an acrylic bonding primer. Don't waste your time buying paint at Wal*Mart or any similar store. If you have a Ben Moore store they have good paint as does Porter's. For the most part your quality is a good as you pay for. The labor is the same to paint something that will fail half the time or last twice as long. Over a properly prepared surface it is not unreasonable to expect 10-12 quality years of service. Yeah! I know the can says 25 years. More marketing.
I don't think you want to seal the wood before your paint. You want the primer coat to soak in and bond to the raw wood not just be stuck to the top of it. To answer your question there is no such thing as a water based wood sealer. Water based products will always allow the moisture to penetrate to the sub-surface. There are some products that are marketed as being that; but that is just marketing. I had to learn that one the hard way. I hope you profit from my experience.
Colbyt
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Colbyt wrote:

I have cans of both. Each can says not to use on horizontal surface subject to rain and foot traffic.

I have had excellent results with McCloskey Multiuse self-priming latex from WalMart (but not on horizontal surfaces exposed to sun rain and foot traffic)

I have searched the shelves of every home improvement center, hardware store, and paint store in the area. There is not a single product that claims to come even close to 25 years on exterior horizontal surfaces exposed to sun, rain, and foot traffic. The most optimistic claim is the Olympic Maximum water-based solid-color deck stain which claims 8 years on deck surfaces. I highly doubt it would last even 4 years.

Exactly. But every primer I have ever worked with is nowhere near the consistency of a stain or sealant, and doesn't penetrate like those products do. For example, I can take a dripping brushful of Olympic oil-based wood protector and merely touch it to a piece of weathered deck board, and the board will suck the stain right out of the brush. I take a brushful of primer and I can paint the entire board with it - it just lays on top of the wood.

That appears to be true according to the labelling on all currently available products I have looked at. In years past however, sealing/waterproofing products were available which claimed to be suitable for overpainting once thoroughly cured.

Most major paint manufacturers make a water-based wood sealer. In the July 06 issue of Consumer Reports, a water-based sealer from Olympic was the #1 rated choice among clear wood sealers. The 8-year-warranty Olympic solid-color deck stain (and sealer) mentioned previously is water-based.

I'm not sure that's true. Check out this web site:
http://www.saversystems.com/uvclear/uvclear.htm
"DEFY UV-Resistant Clear Wood Finish is a high performance, penetrating finish that helps prevent the destructive effects of water, fungi, and UV radiation on exterior wood. With its water-based, epoxy fortified synthetic resin, this product is able to penetrate deeply into wood fibers, providing protection from the graying effects of UV radiation. It dries to a clear finish with little or no effect on the original color of the wood."
This product is recommended by a major national home improvement guru.

Please tell us about your experience. What product did you use, and how did it fail?
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Colbyt wrote:

If the wood surface has aged/oxidized since the previous paint has peeled, I would strongly recommend an oxalic-acid-based deck cleaner be used on the bare wood before the recoating to get a fresh surface for better bonding. Otherwise, I would expect the spots that peeled to simply do so again (and sooner, rather than later :( ).
Otherwise, good advice.
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dpb wrote:

Yes, the wood is grayed/aged/oxidized beneath the blisters (some of these blistered areas are the size of a license plate). But instead of using a cleaner/brightener, what I'd rather do is use some sort of deep-penetrating sealer/bonder which would penetrate through the aged wood and down to the good wood, and "cure" in place into a surface that would be very suitable for accepting a primer or topcoat paint.
The problem is, I have been scouring the shelves of all the hardware and paint stores and home improvement centers, and I cannot find a product available today whose labelling recommends or even allows this type of use.
I have a 10-year-old gallon of "Do It Best" Clear Waterproofing Sealer (solvent based, HWI product code 770 779) which clearly states on the label:
"Do It Best waterproofing sealer is compatible with oil base paints and stains. It can be overpainted once it is dry. Allow at least 5 days before painting over it."
Does anyone out there have experience doing this (priming/painting over a penetrating water sealant). Are such products no longer available today due to EPA VOC regulations? Are there water-based alternatives? I've been searching in vain.
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Ether Jones wrote:

That may be what you would prefer but as the say goes "if frogs had wings..." :)
I know of no product with such magic properties of being applied of an improperly prepared surface will perform as if it (the surface) had been used per manufacturer's recommendations.

Possibly, also quite possible it turned out the product didn't actually perform that well in actual service.
As noted above, I am unaware of any product that will perform your desired magic. The closest thing to get a result that will last w/o the cleaning step would probably be a transparent or semi-transparent stain, but neither will come close to matching a painted existing surface.
The power wash route _may_ adequately remove the oxidized layer, but often it isn't if there has been peeling over a period such as this as there has been such a long time w/o a bond between the coating and the surface even though the actual paint layer is still laying there. Doing the power wash with either such force or for so long a time as to remove the oxidation layer may result in more damage than cure, especially w/ a wood as soft as cedar.
Of course, there's part of the problem--cedar isn't very amenable to painting, owing to the aromatics (even "white" cedars though they're much less aromatic than red cedar, of course).
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dpb wrote:

There must be chemicals which would do exactly what I have described (soak into weathered wood and cure to a paintable surface). It certainly wouldn't be "magic".
The only question is whether there is a manufacturer mass-marketing such a product so the price is affordable.
I am running some tests on sample boards with the 10-year-old gallon of Do It Best sealer. It will be most interesting to see how well a coat of oil-based paint will adhere to it.
Sample #1: sealer, then oil-based primer, then latex topcoat
Sample #1a: oil-based primer, then latex topcoat
Sample #2: sealer, then oil-based primer, then oil-based topcoat
Sample #2a: oil-based primer, then oil-based topcoat
Sample #3: sealer, then semi-solid deck stain
Sample #3a: semi-solid deck stain
Sample #4: self-priming Latex solid stain
Sample $5 two coats of self-priming Latex paint
All samples will be finished on all six sides. All samples will soak in a tub of water on Mondays and Thursdays, and bake in the sun the rest of the week, until failure (defined as blistering of finish, or warping/cracking of wood).
(If anyone has already tried a similar test and would be willing to share the results it would be most appreciated).
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Ether Jones wrote:

It was a figure of speech...

That there aren't such solutions readily available and marketed for the purpose must be saying something...

Are the test samples the same as the weathered spots you intend to cover?
It would seem to me that by the time you have gone to the effort of this you could have a significant portion of the deck properly prepared and done...with the test and w/o proper preparation, you'll still have a job that will shortly fail again.
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dpb wrote:

Yes this point was brought up elsewhere in the thread. The question is, what is it saying? Is it saying there used to be such solutions but they are now banned by the EPA? Is it saying this is just an idea whose time has not yet come? (after all, pick any modern-day convenience and you can go back in time to a time when it wasn't mass-marketed). Is it saying the chemicals are available but marketing studies show they would be too expensive to produce to make a profit? There could be many reasons, not just the one you have in mind, to wit, "it can't be done".

Of course.

But it wouldn't be as much fun, or as enlightening.

There is no universal agreement on what constitutes "proper preparation". Power washing? With or without TSP? Bleach? Chlorine or Peroxide? Chemical stripping? MEK, Methylene Chloride, or Citrus? Power sanding? Scraping? Wire brushing? Must the bristles be non-ferrous? etc etc etc.
Some staining products are actually not recommended for new wood - the wood must be aged.
I'm headed off to a HWI paint store in the next town tomorrow to show the old-timer there the 10-year-old gallon of sealant and ask if he remembers ever selling it, and if it really can do what it claims on the label.
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Ether Jones wrote:

My option would be power washing.
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wrote:

Good, Cheap, Fast... Pick any two.
CWM
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Charlie Morgan wrote:

OK. I pick Good and Fast. Do you know of a water-based sealant which will accept an overcoat of latex paint once it has cured?
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wrote:

sanding Benjamin Moore Alkyd Primer 366 followed by one or two coats of an epoxy modified porch and floor paint. BTDT a few dozen times. This works. YMMV
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NickySantoro wrote:

Thanks.
Can you suggest a specific product (brand and model) for the "epoxy modified porch and floor paint"?
I've stared at the labels on a LOT of paint cans in the past two weeks, and the only one I recall seeing that said anything about epoxy is the DEFY brand deck stain (but I don't think that's what you meant though).
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