Neil Young is wrong

Rust can be killed

There’s a chemical that’s exactly what you want if this wonderful warm weather has inspired you to get that outdoor patio furniture, and perhaps the deck, prepped for a hard summer of laying around with a favorite beverage and doing as little as possible.

If you peak into the back yard, then you might remember that you’d meant to move all that furniture into the garage. Now you’ve got a deck that probably needs a little attention, and if you left your patio furniture set out, it definitely requires a little of your time. Let’s take it by material.

Metal first
“First of all, a lot of furniture (wrought iron) just needs a good cleaning,” says Mike Frentz. He means with a tampico scrub brush and a nice, strong detergent. If you have the metal deck furniture with that kind of rubberized second skin on it, then you want to take the opposite route and do a gentle, but thorough cleaning that will preserve the rubberized coating – that’s what’s keeping the metal from oxidizing.

That’s for the purists among us, those who feel they will pay a penance somewhere down the line unless the job involves a respectable amount of pain, suffering and maybe even a little bleeding. Well, Mike can’t recommend one way easier way to do it – he can recommend two.

Two ways
He keeps some stuff in the back room called Nice n' Easy Aluminum Siding Cleaner and sells a lot of it. It’s an aluminum siding & trim cleaner that works great on things like metal patio furniture that is grungy, but hasn’t rusted out. You just brush it on and hose if down – that’s it.

The second fix, instead of a wire brush, is made by the same people who make Naval Jelly, but it isn’t Naval Jelly. As you may recall from working on junkers in your high school days, Naval Jelly is great for dissolving rust. The trouble was that the rust had eaten a hole through whatever you were trying to preserve, and that meant patch work.

Not so with Neutralizer.

“It doesn’t float rust off – it neutralizes it and converts it to a neutral surface,” Mike says. You end up with a hard, metal-like surface, blue-black in color, that you can then sand and treat as you would any other type of metal.

Mike’s suggests one great use for it is the bottom of garage doors that have been chewed apart by winter weather and salt.

Moving on to wood
If you have wood furniture or a wood deck (as most people do), then the thing you should look for is rot. That’s when the wood deteriorates, gets soft – almost squishy, sometimes – and can be pulled away from an adjoining board or post with just your fingers.

The way to treat rot, so long as it’s a reasonably small area (you can’t build an entire deck out of this stuff), is with a product called PC Petrifier. You apply it directly to the soft wood, and in a few hours the wood, without changing appearance, will harden to the surface of petrified wood. That’s a good way to preserve part of a post, beam, or even a window frame.

Now what you want to do is build back the area that rotted away. You can do that with a sister product called PC Woody, which is an epoxy paste. Once mixed, you can mold it like modeling clay and recreate the rotted-out and missing part of the project. It also adheres to PC Petrifier, and hardens to sandable, drillable surface.

Deck redux
If you have a deck, then Mike says you have one of two ways to go. The deck behind his house is made of cedar, and like most redwoods, has a natural defense against rotting. That means Mike didn’t have to, and made a point of not, prepping the deck once it was installed. “That’s because once finish your deck with color or sealer, you have to do repeat it every two years, minimum.” He didn’t have to treat his deck for several years and when he did, the treatment included a light stain that restored the original color of the deck.

If, on the other hand, your deck is made of pressurized wood (wood injected with a chemical to keep insects and rot out), then you’ve got a project every couple years at least – to keep the deck in excellent condition, Mike recommends treating it every year.

There are a lot of compounds to treat a deck, and most aren’t too difficult to apply. Mike says a popular treatment is Thompson’s Water Seal, which does exactly what the name implies.

Cleaning the Dec
Sometimes the deck just needs a good cleaning and for that Mike recommends Wolman’s DeckBrite™ which is a product that mixed with water and sprayed on the deck, brushed and rinsed with the garden hose.