Protecting Your Deck – Part Two

Lessons From A Repentant Deck Owner

In the last post, I provided tips for prepping and cleaning your deck. Now…

Part Two: Staining and Sealing the Deck

Now you are ready to begin the deck staining or sealing process. Make sure to choose a stain or sealer that repels water, resists mildew and prevents fading in high traffic areas.

Oil-based products tend to retain or hold their color longer, but water-based products are more durable, last longer and only require soap and water to clean up.

There are four categories of stain or sealant to choose from: Clear Water Repellents, Tinted Water Repellants, Semi-Transparent Stains, and Solid Stain. Each category contains an increasing amount of pigment (the stuff that makes color). The more pigment, the less the natural wood grain and texture is going to show through, but the better the protection it provides the wood.

Clear Water Repellents provide basic protection from moisture but not a lot of UV protection, so the wood will begin to gray after only a few months. This can give the wood more of a natural look. Count on using this product season to season.

Toner or Tinted Water Repellants work in a similar manner to the Clear Water Repellents, but pigment is added. The pigment provides a little bit more sun protection, which can help restore a little bit of the original look of the wood if only slight fading has occurred.

Semi-Transparent Stains contain more pigment, and will provide subtle color but still allow the wood grain to show through. These products last longer than water repellants, giving you a couple more seasons of protection. When choosing a stain, remember that colors vary based on the wood itself. If you are applying a stain over an old stain, choose a color that is similar or darker than the original. To allow the new color to absorb into the wood, the old stain should be adequately worn or thoroughly stripped. Do a test patch in a hidden area to ensure color and appearance.

Solid Stains provide the most pigment and the best protection for wood. They also hide the wood grain, allowing just some of the wood texture to show through. This type of stain is best used for heavily weathered wood. Solid color stains last longer than any other type of stain, sometimes as long as 4 to 5 years.

Applying Stain

The key to staining and preserving your deck is to apply a thin, even coat of stain or sealer over the deck using a roller with extension handle. Use a two to three board pattern overlapping slightly to eliminate breaks or “holidays”. Two thin coats of stain are better than one thick coast, which won’t adhere or dry properly.

Do not allow the finish to puddle. Make sure to back roll or brush out puddles, and make sure you allow the deck to dry completely before putting the furniture back and allowing kids and pets to play on it.

So, take it from a guy who had to replace his entire deck – a little TLC can go a long way toward keeping your deck healthy, happy and functional for many extra years.  If any of you aren’t doing anything this weekend, I have extra brushes!

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