Deck Helmet: How to decide if it meets your needs


weathered wood deck (Bigstock/BIGSTOCK)
July 11, 2012

Q. I have a deck that’s more than 20 years old. It is weather-beaten, mostly due to my neglect. I keep hearing about “Deck Helmet.” I know you can’t endorse products, but do you think the procedure they use could be used on my deck?

Catharpin

A. Deck Helmet is touted as a wood resurfacing material that eliminates splintering and makes a deck seem like it’s a composite, presumably a composite of wood and plastic. The company’s Web site, www.deckhelmet.com, doesn’t say what the product consists of, though, and three calls to the company’s phone line elicited different explanations. One person said it’s a stain with a plastic component, another said it’s a “latex polymer base,” and a third described it as a sprayed-on acrylic epoxy. All were eager to say it protects a deck for 10 years. And after that? “That’s a good question,” said the third person, Edward (first name only). “Unfortunately, I do have very limited information.”

None of the people who answered could say how thick the product gets applied. But because the coating fills cracks, smothers splinters and leaves the deck seeming like a composite, it’s fairly clear that it is a thick, opaque coating. So the aesthetics of the deck change completely. The Deck Helmet Web site includes a section that outlines the process, and for the final step, where the customer hands over the money, there’s a picture of a beautiful deck where you can see wood grain and even a few knots. But that’s not at all what your deck would look like at the end of the process.

If your deck is in such bad shape that you see your options as either coating it or replacing it, Deck Helmet might be an option, though it doesn’t seem likely that you could strip it off and revert to a more natural wood finish if you changed your mind.

To find out an approximate cost, you will need to schedule a sales call. You might also want to check out other thick coatings being sold to reface decks, such as Deck Restore (800-373-6333, www.synta.com), which is sold at Home Depot, Lowe’s and Ace. You can apply this coating yourself at a cost of $1 a square foot or hire someone to do it for a total cost of about $5 a square foot, according to the company’s estimates. Deck Restore lasts for 10 to 12 years, said one of the company’s customer-service reps. It can be recoated, but it would be very difficult to remove it, she said.

We are planning on remodeling our two full bathrooms. A long tub/shower wall is the shared wall between the two bathrooms. How do we work on one room while not disturbing the other? These are the only full bathrooms in the house.

Alexandria

Unless you want to relocate the wall or there is something unusual about how your house was built, it should be fairly easy to remodel one bathroom at a time without disturbing the other.

An interior wall is typically built of 2-by-4s, with any plumbing or wiring snaked through or between them. Then each side is covered over with sheets of drywall, cement board or other tile backing material. This means the remodeling crew can cut through or even remove the drywall or other material from one side, do any new plumbing or wiring while the wall is open, then close up the wall and complete the bathroom on that side. Then the same process could happen on the other side of the wall.

If the situation is more complex, discuss with your builder how to organize the job so one bathroom remains functional, even if not very pretty, for as long as possible. If all else fails, impose on friends or neighbors, or rent a portable toilet and join a gym so you can shower there in the interim.

Have a problem in your home? Send questions to localliving@washpost.com . Put “How To” in the subject line, tell us where you live and try to include a photo.

The Checklist Read Jeanne Huber’s roundup of home-improvement tasks you should tackle in July, such as oiling your garage door, at washingtonpost.com/home.

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