Deck paint

jmcphail(6)October 20, 2005

This is my first post, I've been lurking for a while sponging up plenty of lawn care and lawn mower goodness, thanks to everyone who posts here. I think I've learned a lot.

I purchased a new Snapper Hi-Vac with the Kawasaki FJ180V engine in September, choosing it over the Toro SR because I wanted the engine with the oil filter. I have a lot of oak trees of various types that pollute my yard periodically, and the Hi-Vac does really well with that. Very happy with the new mower.

My first 3 mowings were low and I bagged, to clean up the yard and get it ready to core aerate and overseed. Once that was done, I stopped mowing for a couple of weeks and concentrated on watering. Eventually I needed to mow again, and I installed the mulch cover ( not the plug ) and a mulching blade and started mulching. I also changed the oil, the filter and set the engine RPM to 3300.

I had bagged the first few times and when inspecting the deck afterwards not much had accumulated under there, and I could use a broom to dislodge what few clippings there were. Because of this, I got lazy and didn't inspect the deck after I started mulching, and didn't bother to look until I had mowed four times.

Last weekend I finally noticed the dark green, fine cement-like buildup under the deck, hard as a rock. Fine, I thought, I disconnected the spark and tilted the mower up on its side, and got out the garden hose. I used my sprayer handle, set the pattern to "stream" and started going after the build up, soaking it well, knocking as much out with the water and using a wooden stick to loosen the crud that resisted the water.

"Hmmm, is it supposed to be shiny like that", I thought? I've knocked quite a bit of the paint off the bottom of the deck, using only a small wooden stick and a garden hose!

My question is, is this normal? I guess mulching chops the clippings up more finely and releases a lot more moisture, so it's more prone to build-up, but is it normal for deck paint to flake off under only the pressure of a garden hose and some scraping with a stick? The mower has less than 10 hours of use.

What can I do? Should I worry? Won't the steel deck rust if I don't seal it somehow? Is that normal for the paint on a new mower?

Your advice is appreciated, I'm just sick that I did this to my new mower :(

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tom_p_pa(08840) is very normal.

It is impossible to keep the paint in "new" condition on the bottom of the deck. That hard build up is very difficult to remove. The only way to prevent it is to clean to perfection after each use. Is this practical..NO !!! Once that hard layer dries...forget it. It pulls everything off with it.

Do not worry. I have had many steel decks with no under deck paint, and never had them rust through.

Most buy new mowers, like me, and I try to keep them perfect, but reality sets in, and you need to remember it is just a mower. It really is not meant to be pretty, especially under the deck. It operates in extreme conditions.

I know, it is hard. It is like a new park it away from other cars to keep it nice. Then overtime, it gets crappy and dinged up and worn out...and eventually you ease up on the perfection and go with the flow.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2005 at 8:56AM
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Completely normal. The only way you could have postponed the paint loss would have been to wash all residue completely off after every mowing. Even so, abrasion would eventually remove the paint anyway. To prevent corrosion, just keep it clean and spray with a light oil after the fall cleanup for storage. On the topside, I recommend Pledge spray wax. Quick and easy. You may have to give the mower a wash job once in awhile, including the bag.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2005 at 9:00AM
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Tom; Didn't mean to re-state what you said - when I started typing, there were no replies. By the time I posted, after several interruptions by pesky customers and the boss (what do they think by interfering with this important stuff?), you had already done it.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2005 at 4:14PM
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Thanks for the encouragement, I feel a better knowing I only made the unavoidable happen faster. It was upsetting because this is my first "good" mower.

I spoke with a friend at work today, and it turns out he repaints underneath the deck on his rider every year with Rustoleum primer. Between paint, oil, Pledge and maybe wax or something else I think I have some choices.

Thanks for your advice!

    Bookmark   October 20, 2005 at 10:21PM
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If you want to keep rust at bay, and you have the time and patience to do it, I recommend sanding the cutting chamber down to bare metal, putting on two coats of POR-15, and then putting on at least one coat of POR topcoat. I did this to the cutting chamber of a steel deck Lawn-Boy I gave to my brother this summer and, so far, it's holding up well.

POR-15 bonds with the metal to form a barrier against moisture. In addition, it's supposed to be highly abraision resistant, thus helping it to stand up to the barrage of clippings, twigs, pebbles, and other things being circulated around the cutting chamber while mowing.

Here is a link that might be useful: POR-15 website

    Bookmark   October 20, 2005 at 10:43PM
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Thanks for the info on the paint, tarheelman. I've actually been googling paint lately but didn't come across POR yet. It look like great paint.

I've also been thinking about what kind of paint is used in the wheel wells of an automobile, and maybe even bedliner, too.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2005 at 8:12AM
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I use POR 15 on car chassis restoration. POR 15 likes rusty metal verus "shiny clean" metal. Therefore, you may want to use it for a year or so to get all the paint removed through normal usage. If not, you will need to remove the paint through chemical or mechanical stripping. If you remove the paint now, the surface needs to have "teeth" in it for the POR to stick. I would personally leave it sit and rust after stripping, then coat it. With my chassis, I have them sandblasted to bear metal, then hose them down and let them develop a coating of rust on them over several weeks and leave them outside. By the way, it is expensive. This stuff is super hard and gets harder with moisture. Personally, it is the best stuff I have ever used.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2005 at 8:22AM
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I dont think I would use the bed liner or wheel well undercoating. I think they have to much of a texture and would make getting the grass off harder. I have used the POR-15 on cars, It works great, dries to a rock hard finish that is very smooth, Iam sure grass would rinse off it with no ploblem. They have a starter kit on there website that Iam sure would be more than enough for a mower deck


Here is a link that might be useful: POR-15

    Bookmark   October 21, 2005 at 8:24AM
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You're correct---POR-15 does need a surface with "teeth" in order to bond to the metal. On the L-B steel deck I mentioned above, I gave the surface "teeth" by softening the paint with acetone and then sanding it off with coarse sandpaper. The coarse sandpaper left the surface of the bare metal rough and the POR-15 dried to a rock-hard finish. I rustproofed this mower two months ago and, so far, my brother says the POR-15 is holding up well.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2005 at 8:57AM
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Tarheelman...let us know after some time how it holds up.

By the way...can POR 15 be used on an aluminum deck...for protection against oxidation/pitting???

I really love this stuff.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2005 at 10:16AM
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The literature that came with my order of POR-15 says that it can be used on aluminum with results similar to those obtained on steel. If I ever get around to fixing up the '87 L-B 8481 I have sitting in my garage, I plan on using POR-15 on the cutting chamber to protect against oxidation/pitting. I hope it'll do as well on this unit's aluminum deck as it did on the steel deck L-B I gave to my brother.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2005 at 7:27PM
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According to POR, just clean and prep with Marine Clean and Metal Ready and rinse after each application then apply two thin coats of Por15 to aluminum. I bet this works great.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2005 at 2:01PM
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MikeW97GT(Oshkosh, WI)

I remember seeing a graphite based spray paint at the hardware store some time ago that supposedly created a tough, non-stick surface that was advertised as perfect for mower decks. I never tried it, nor do I know if it still even exists, but it looked intriguing back when I saw it, and if it does indeed still exist, I may try it on one of my mowers.
This would be a slick idea (no pun intended) to keep the grass from building up under the deck, especially when mulching.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2005 at 6:49PM
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I have done a 7263 magnesium deck with Duplicolor spray bedliner. If you spray it closer than the 10 iinches they recommend, you get a pretty smooth texture from it. Not glass-smooth, but smooth enough for deck duty I think. Only problem is, I haven't tested it yet to know. It's a resto project I started last year and it's still in pieces...

    Bookmark   October 25, 2005 at 1:59PM
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arceeguy(z6 NJ)

I use a product from Mercury Marine called "corrosion guard". I spray the underside of the mower deck and the engine shaft after I use a pressure washer to blast off the caked on clippings. I do this 3 or 4 times a season and have had no rust problems with steel decks. (good for the snow thrower too!)

    Bookmark   October 26, 2005 at 9:12AM
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MikeW97GT, did you ever try that "graphite based spray paint"?

If so, how did it perform?


    Bookmark   May 29, 2006 at 1:36PM
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ntillm01, did you test out the deck that you sprayed with Duplicolor? How did it turn out?

Thank you.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2006 at 1:43PM
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Tom P PA......Does the deck need to be totally paint-free before you can apply POR-15? Can any of the original John Deere yellow paint be evident or does that all need to come off before being prepped with the Metal Ready prior to painting?

    Bookmark   June 11, 2007 at 4:01PM
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oldlawnmowerman81(Milwaukie (Oak Grove))

I have a 1984 Toro 20672 that has chipped paint almost all around on the deck. The color of the deck is Toro Red. What should I do so as to ensure that my deck's new coat of paint lasts?

Some of the decals on the deck are still intact, and I would like to use masking tape on them to protect them while I prime and paint.


    Bookmark   August 14, 2009 at 7:19PM
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CLEAN DECK Graphite Undercoating for Lawn Mowers will take care of the buildup problem and protect your deck. Even John Deere ships with the decks coated with graphite. It's made by a company called Wilmar Graphite and have been suppling commerical applications for a long time.

Here is a link that might be useful: CLEAN DECK Graphite

    Bookmark   August 25, 2009 at 8:14AM
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