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Post Info TOPIC: How to price cleaning and sealing/staining?


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How to price cleaning and sealing/staining?
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Hey guys I am curious to know how you guys price deck work.  Lets first look at just a clean. Then applying a sealer/stain.  Also if there is railing that will need to be cleaned and sealed as well.  Please be detailed in your responses. 

thanks



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Doug Ford

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I am up here in Michigan...Detroit area and I pushed hard for $1.30 sq ft, most often end up doing a deck for around $1.00-$1.10 sq ft. That is why I am no longer pursuing this type of work and replacing it with roofs. To much time vested in cleaning, sealing decks for me. Better margins on house and roofs.

Really never get a call for just cleaning a wood deck. When the call comes, 99% of the time the deck is ready for a complete wash/strip and seal. A lot of times if a customer asks you to wash their deck, by the time you kill the algae and remove the dirt it is apparent it needs to be resealed.

If you have done the job before and it is time just to reseal you can get away with your house wash solution and seal. I would charge $1.00 sq ft.

If it is a new job for you I would suggesting stripping it down and starting from scratch. Stripping is not hard at all as long as you are removing a oil based stain. The reason I do that is because most times you don't know how the deck was prepped in the past and you probably won't know what type of sealer is on there now. By stripping it you lay the foundation for easier future work.....just a wash and reseal is needed for future visits.

If I came across a deck with a solid acrylic stain the only option I gave the home owner was another solid stain. Solids can be removed with the right strippers or sanding, but it is ALOT of work. Just clean and seal again with a solid.

Pricing is as follows: square footage of the floor, stairs, band boards. If there are railings you take the linear feet X 4. You can do linear feet X 3 if you are a nice guy. Theory behind the X4 is there are four sides to the spindle and if you were to lay all four sides that would make your measurement. My reasoning is railings are a PITA and that time consuming work needs to be paid for.

Steps:
~Apply stripper and let dwell, keep wet so it continues to work. Where protection, will burn you.
~Rinse with a pressure washer, keep pressure to the bare minimum. 800 psi won't hurt the wood, but be careful if you start creeping up past that. To much stripper or to much pressure will cause furring or fuzzing.
~Apply Citralic to neutralize and brighten wood
~Let dry for a couple days. Moisture content should be under 12%.
~Stain. Different methods include hand application or sprayer.

You can get a real good stripper for oil based stains at www.pressuretek.com called F-18 Max. All I ever used. While you are there pick up some F-13 Gutter Grenade for your black gutters. For brightening the wood after it is stripped (and also balance out the PH) I prefer to use a product called Citralic.



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Jeff that was a great post explaining how to take care of a deck from start to finish. Hopefully any new guys will read it and be able to complete a deck cleaning process.

I would still like to see what others are charging for deck cleaning and sealing.

Thanks

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Doug Ford

Midsouth Prowash
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901-399-WASH (9274)

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SoftWash Systems Certified Applicator

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$3.50-$4.00 / sq. we don't measure railings. Just the area of horizontals.

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Those prices are incredible. My hats off to you. I'd be a happy camper for anything near that. To many people out of work around me with Home Depot pressure washers working for under a $1 a ft.



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looks like so far prices are running
.50-1.00 for cleaning without prior sealing or staining
1.00-2.00 for cleaning with prior seal or stain

another $1 to put a seal or stain on

hope this helps someone out



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Doug Ford

Midsouth Prowash
P.O. Box 310 Arlington TN 38002
901-399-WASH (9274)

www.midsouthprowash.com

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Doug, I am looking into doing fence and deck staining myself. Wondering what's a good pressure washer to pick up. Also, what's the best stain removers, sealers, wood brightners and stains you have come across? I've seen a bunch of crappy decks with cheap stain jobs. Trying to avoid using Home Depot brands if at all possible unless you truly recommend one of them.

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Matthew B. Spyker

Yorktown, Va



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Matt,

I have a 3500 psi 5.5 GPM Hydrotek. Good machine. It will.allow you go take on jobs softwashing can't do like concrete or paver restoration, or even stripping off old sealer from a deck. When working on wood you should not have to use more than 1000 psi or you may start damaging the wood.

A good stripper is F-18 from Bob at Pressuretek (www.pressuretek.com)

A good neutralizer/brightener is F-8 (oxalic acid) also from Bob, or Citralic. Personally I think they both work.the same.

A good sealer is Armstrong and Clark. Lasts , easy to work with and easy to strip off in the future if need be. Ready Seal is also another sealer the guys tend to like.

There are other services that in my opinion are much more profitable. Decks are very time consuming and very price competitive. The only decks I will even consider quoting on now are from client referrals.



-- Edited by Jeff Thompson on Tuesday 11th of June 2013 10:59:52 PM

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We don't do decks no money! All roofs.

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Eric Seitz

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SoftWash Systems Certified Applicator

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We clean them all the time, but if they want it to be refinished we refer it out. Otherwise its a big project that is not as profitable as our other services Like Eric said.

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Matt,

I would recommend at least a 4gpm machine for doing deck work. However, I think I had explained to you that there is "no money" in doing decks. That's why I stopped doing them all together. It's like beating your head against a brick wall! Let the jack-legs do it and move on.

It takes 3 days to do a deck, plus your expenses. One day to drive there and measure, talk turkey, and pick out color(s). A second day to strip the old sealer off and neutralize. Then a third day to go apply the sealer. In addition to that you have to figure in your gas for three round trips to the site, the gas to run you machine, the price of the stripper and neutralizer, and the price of your sealer, plastic, tape, etc., etc. You CAN NOT charge enough with all the "jack-legs" around these days to make a decent profit. Stick to roofs!!!! You'll make as much by noon as you would taking three entire days doing a measly deck.

Been there, done that. (Old man wisdom)

Mark



-- Edited by Mark Fermoyle on Saturday 15th of June 2013 09:14:22 PM

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Matt,

Marks advice is good. I also swore off decks this year but still find myself with four on the schedule. Two were from existing clients whom I do other work for so I really have no choice, the other two are referrals from one of my distributors...whom I have since asked him to stop referring me. Every time I am on one of these projects I realize why I swore them off...see the attached picture.

Not to mention all those trips and supplies, but the weather. I was supposed to stain a deck today but it rained last night so my whole schedule gets screwed again....another huge reason why I'm out of decks....scheduling issues.

I think everyone who starts off in powerwashing targets decks because there are so many of them. It is a good avenue to get your feet wet, get used to the machines, used to working with customers, used to working with chemicals...there are a lot of benefits for someone at the start. But after you get a few years under your belt you start to follow the money and realize you can make more faster by doing other services.

Consider learning about paver cleaning and sealing. If I'm not sealing the pavers as part of a job I am always cleaning and resanding them. Moss and algae love to grow on pavers and weeds love to find there way into the paver joints. Higher profits and you don't have to compete with the fly by nights for the decks. And you don't have to deal with a mess like the one pictured.....ugh.



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We will clean and prep but no longer offer staining unless it is well worth it. Maybe I will run a special in august but not totally sure yet.

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Michael Derose wrote:

We will clean and prep but no longer offer staining unless it is well worth it. Maybe I will run a special in august but not totally sure yet.


 If I had plenty of other, worthwhile work, I'd stick with that and avoid decks like the plague - unless you know you can get a tie in sale on doing the roof as well.  Clean & prep (strip & brighten) is still a lot of overhead.  (My $0.02)

Seems like anyone, or atleast the majority of deck customers desire a contractor who will do the "whole ball of wax".

Unless you're starving, stick to specialty work.



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SoftWash Systems 5-Star Professional

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Those are all very good posts, and I understand why you would avoid deck only work. Impossible to avoid if you're cleaning the house, however. Our program is to include cleaning the decks while cleaning the house, but that's it. Anything else the deck may need, the owner can call his painter. I charge one flat rate per day based on the % of solution. I have yet to have a customer ask me to break down my total. I carry a fresh 2% spray bottle with me, and run tests on every surface that needs cleaning, with the owner right next to me.

Once they see the immediate results from the simple spray test, most all say "do it all". Seems to be a really good program for us. I am blessed with a great market and very strong customer base.



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Mark I'm not cheap. If it isn't worth it I am not doing it.

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I got a call from a local city in my area wanting me to provide them with a quote on cleaning/sealing a wooden playground. The area is huge and they said it gets presure washed and sealed every other year. I was told that last time it took the pressure washers 4 days to complete, 3 for cleaning and 1 for applying the sealer. As much as I would like to add this to my list of items cleaned using softwash, I'm not sure about taking this on, Thoughts?



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Dan Dykstra

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Hi Dan,

My first thought when looking at that picture is what a nightmare this might turn into. It's large, you got structures and railings all over the place. But if you have a crew working on it, probably would not be that bad. I work alone so that size of a project would be a little overwhelming for me.

As a company, If a city told me I had a job of this size every other year for life I would be thrilled....the fact it is coming up for bid again leads me to believe the last company does not want to do it again for one reason or another.

As for the softwashing aspect, the fact it has been maintained every other year would tell me that the playground should not have any deeply embedded mold or algae into the wood and washing should be relatively easy. I don't think I would use BW on the wood, and maybe someone will correct me, but since it is a wax my thought would the BW would inhibit penetration of the sealer you plan on putting on.

For them to apply the sealer in one day they must have been spraying it on. Actually, a project that size and out in the middle of a field where you don't have to worry about overspray would be my choice of application as well.

Is there a water source close by you can tap into or are you going to be bringing in your own water ? I know the playground out back of my house would require someone to bring in water, or work out something with a neighbor close to the playscape to use their water.

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water is not an issue, plenty of water supply there. City always puts this up for bid due to the cost. they supply the sealer for us to put on. Spraying is the quickest way to do this job. They are getting bids from 3 other companies (all pressure washers)

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I would say its a great opportunity to softwash this as long as your method of rinsing will be enough to prep the wood properly. I just did prepped a deck this morning for staining. The SH and GH did their job, but I still needed my pressure washer with just enough pressure to remove some stubborn algae. When it comes to wood I still believe you need some pressure to clean and open those pores in order to accept a penetrating oil.

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Michael Derose wrote:

Mark I'm not cheap. If it isn't worth it I am not doing it.


 AMEN to that, brother!!  Good for you.



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