Varnishing a house deck? [deck refinishing]

We have hired a company to refinish our deck. When they sent us a proposal, they specified two coats of their sealant. When workers came, they acted all surprised when I requested that they come again to put the second coat. I had to talk on the phone to the "manager" who tried to convince me that I do not need two coats, that it was a mistake etc. Their sealant, upon close examination, appears to be an oil based stain diluted with solvent such as mineral spirits. They said that second coat of that product will not penetrate and the deck will forever remain oily.
My general and limited woodworking experience suggests that for a 20 year old and dry weathered wood, it will absorb an additional coat. I requested that they leave a little bit of their sealant and tried applying it again today, and alas, it was absorbed by the wood after I wiped off the excess. I am sure that a second coat will make the treatment last longer.
So I do want a second coat. Any thoughts on my decision making process?
The color that they applied is called california cedar, but is more reminiscent of baby shit. That's to say that it is brown and not very transparent. But it looks not so bad and it was our choice.
What I am thinking about however, is VARNISHING the deck on top of coating. Both the treatment and varnish would be oil based. I will thusly benefit from their sanding of the deck, and their treatment will allow me to use less varnish. I tried varnishing one rail with captain's spar urethane, and it looked frankly pretty good. Has anyone varnished a weathered deck? Is that a crazy idea? Maybe I should varnish rails only?
Thanks!
i
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You ask "...Any thoughts on my decision making process?..." Yes. It s*%ks.

sealant..." >"....When workers came, they acted all surprised....the "manager" ... tried to >convince me that I do not need two coats..."
These guys are robbing you, plain and simple. They charge for two applications, but only deliver one. React accordingly. Life really isn't all that complicated in most cases. Don't over analyze.
JG
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On 15 Jul 2003 03:56:54 GMT, Ignoramus26420

Send a check for half the amount. After all, they only did half the work. They will get in touch with you!!!! Remind them that *you* are always right (customer). Perhaps you can settle for one coat and 3/4 the price.
Good luck
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After I tried applying the second coat, no, I want a second coat and I will pay 100% of price.
i
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John Gaquin wrote:

Not exactly. The stuff they use IS a penetrant. I've used it on my deck for years. Even with one coat, if you get too much on, and the deck has been previously done, it will puddle and not penetrate. And it WILL be slicker than owl shit if it does that.
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The deck was never done before.
i
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John Gaquin wrote:

But, the point is, if you look at *most* cans of deck sealer, they will tell you to 1. NOT let the stuff puddle, 2. not to do two coats, unless done in a certain time frame. In other words, if the first coat has been there too long, the second coat will not penetrate. It's just doing what it's supposed to do, and that is preventing moisture from getting in the wood. On my can, it says IF you want to second coat, to do so immediately after the first coat soaks in.
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My experience in maintaining spar varnish exposed to the sun and weather is that it'll take 1/4 to 1/2 hour of labor per square foot per year to keep it in good shape. YMMV.
Ignoramus26420 wrote:

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You don't want multiple coats on a deck. Thinner = better. The process is to brush it on and the wood will absorb what it wants and then you brush out the rest. Thick coats will just scratch, flake, and peel and will look like hell in a few months.
You also don't want to varnish a deck. Once the varnish fails you'll have the "job from hell" trying to strip it.
The best looking decks have a thin coat of lightly tinted oil based deck stain and this get's re-applied every 2-3 years. Prep is just a good cleaning with a garden hose and deck cleaner. (no pressure washers!!!)

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No, no. This is oil sealant that does not polymerize like varnish. It is basically oil with stain. So it is absorbed by the wood. I actually tried putting a second coat yesterday, the piece of wood where I applied it absorbed the extra oil and is looking deeper and I think will last longer.

Does exterior grade varnish also fail and peel?

This makes sense. But why would a second coat of such oil hurt???
i

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davefr wrote:

It's simply because the first coat protects, so that the second coat will never penetrate. It just sits on top like the water is supposed to do. The only good that a second coat will do is make it slippery.
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Two coat definitely better than one.

The color will darken over time in a good way.

You didn't stain the deck yourself, and want to varnish it yourself? Considering the labor and return, forget varnishing, stain yourself in two years.
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What's all this talk about a vanishing house deck. How in the world can a deck vanish? It's so big and heavy, it can't even hide except at night and even then a full moon would not allow it to vanish completely. Perhaps creatures from outer space could make a deck vanish but they could make almost anything vanish, including the house. I don't think it is possible to make a deck van.......
Never mind.

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Punch [line] wrote . . .

Aw c'mon Punch, it was in the message posted by Rosanne Rosannadana, can't see how you missed it. :)
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Ignoramus26420 wrote:

Varnish is probably not too good a choice. There must be clear poly products for decks. I know that there isa paint category called deck paint. It is harder than varnich and stands up better.
Rick
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Try the Cabot's Decking Stain products; they work very well in my experience and are top rated by a well-known consumer magazine. I just did my 22x24 PT deck with 2.5 gallons worth of the stuff and expect to not do it again for 2 years or more.
http://www.cabotstain.com
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pixelated:

I want to see your face when you find out how much it's going to cost you 2 years down the road to remove the cracked, flaking, chipped, failed poly coating on that deck, Reeky.
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