Decks/Deck sealing

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Question
Hi,

A few things about the deck-to-be: It is more of a utilitarian work surface and platform for sheds. Also, I live on the Windward (rainy!) side of O'ahu, Hawaii. Deck framing will be conventional.

My initial idea was to finish the deck with traditional planks, but then I started thinking about using plywood instead and sealing it with a product like Liquid Rubber, Flex Seal or similar. I like the idea of the deck being textured. I also like the idea of completely sealing the surface. But my concern is, where does the water go? With planks, the water drains easily between the cracks (but then perhaps gets trapped and puddles and creates a problem for the piers?). It seems to me that sealing a plywood deck with Liquid Rubber will create a monolithic surface with nowhere for the rain water to drain.

I suppose I could take the best of both ideas and seal planks with Liquid Rubber, but brushing it onto plywood seems easier (and cheaper?).  

Any insight is greatly appreciated :)

Answer
Hey Shaun,

    Now, I'm more of a carpenter and deck builder than a painter or someone necessarily experienced with various sealing products...but I'll tell you what I can. :-)
    You are correct that...if you are using a solid surface, that water needs to go SOMEwhere, of course. So, you must form a pitch to an area of your choosing for drain off. I am assuming you are trying to avoid the gaps between traditional styles of decking, so wood and composite decking are not really an option...(?)
    So, there is pressure treated plywood. A step up from that would be marine plywood. There is also a plywood product that shed builders use for flooring, which has a textured (usually orange-ish) coating (or layer) on top. I would still probably want something covering or coating any of these, for lasting durability. Of course, another option would be a fiberglass deck.
    I have tried Flex Seal on plywood, and it doesn't go very far. You would need a LOT of cans and a lot of coats, I think. Whatever type of plywood you decide on, I would probably look more into liquid roofing products or maybe elastomeric paint. I think a company called Henry makes a few of these that are readily available ( at Home Depot for example).
    I would strongly stress to keep it a light a color as possible, to avoid heat (and degradation) in the sun.
    Let me know how you make out.
Hope this helped some,
~Michael

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Michael Romano

Expertise

I can answer any questions relating to decks, porches, exterior stairs & railings, walkways, access ramps, pergolas, deck roofs, screen rooms, etc... These may include design ideas, footing to framing design & construction methods, various species of woods vs. composites & pvc/vinyl materials for decking, skirting, or railing applications. I also have expertise in various rain-free systems for under-deck storage & living spaces.

Experience

I have designed and built decks and many other types of outdoor structures for over 25 years for my own home improvement company. We also perform many other types of home improvements, including window & door installation, molding & trimwork, siding, basement finishing, siding, etc. Our main love however, is decks!

Organizations
NADRA - The North American Deck and Railing Association. Several Small Business & Home Improvement Contractor Alliances & Associations.

Publications
I have written several articles over the years for decks.com, decksusa.com, and many other deck & construction related websites.

Education/Credentials
High School graduate. 2 years of Mechanical Drawing & Architecture classes. Vocational School graduate. 2 years of Construction Technology & Carpentry classes. Many years of reading, researching, and application in the real world.

Awards and Honors
I am certified by several decking manufacturers for expert application & installation of their products.

Past/Present Clients
Mainly local residential clients, and occasional commercial clients, including restaurants, nightclubs, office buildings, etc.

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