Protect Your Deck
A deck can be a great extension of your home. We have a covered deck on the front of our house and a large spacious deck on the back and my family spends the majority of our summer nights on one of the two. I am always saddened to see a wood deck that has not been properly maintained, and I see it often on my inspections. Decks are expensive! Without proper maintenance of the deck they will deteriorate quickly and need extensive repairs within just a few short years.
There are many factors that determine the exact steps that need to be taken in order to properly finish your deck. This article is just a quick overview. I recommend visiting www.deckstainhelp.com for a comprehensive and detailed look at deck finishing.
How To Maintain Your Deck
Deck maintenance is pretty straight forward. The majority of decks are made with wood decking, however materials like composite and plastic are edging their way into the market more and more each year. Those types of decking do not need nearly the amount of maintenance as a wood deck and are going to be covered in a later article. For today we are going to concentrate only on wood.
Wood decks need to be finished to prevent rot, cracking, splitting, and other damages. A proper finish, applied correctly on a properly prepped deck, will last many years with minimal annual maintenance required. Keeping your deck surface clean and properly finishing it will keep your deck enjoyable for a long time.
When To Finish A Deck
Most newly constructed decks should not be immediately finished. This is due to the fact that they are usually too smooth, have to high of a moisture content, and contain a higher level of chemicals residue from weatherproofing treatment. Most deck stains will not properly adhere to new wood. Manufacturers recommend waiting anywhere from 1-12 months before applying stain (reading the stain label will determine exactly how long to wait).
Existing decks should be stained once the existing stain has worn down exposing bare wood. Often times areas of high traffic will result in an uneven wearing of the deck surface so be sure to pay close attention to those areas. Finishes will often peel, crack, or weather and will noticeably lack luster.
Steps To Prep A Deck
1) If the deck has been stained before and the stain has started to chip or crack you must strip the deck. This can be a multiple step process to completely remove the deck stain and a power washer comes in real handy. Be sure to spend some extra time here as old stain or paint, if left on the deck, could cause your new stain to fail prematurely.
2) Always use both a wood cleaner and brightener. Using both chemicals might seem redundant but in actuality they perform different functions. Cleaner removes grit and foreign material from the surface of the deck. Brightener removes UV graying from the sun. Both chemicals aid in the removal of mill glaze, helping the stain adhere to the boards.
3) Let the wood dry for 24-48 hours before applying stain. Try to keep the surface as clean as possible and limit use of the deck in this period.
4) Sweep or blow off the deck before application.
Picking The Correct Stain
Picking the correct stain is one of the most important steps to having a finish that will last. Chemical compositions in different stains can provide better protections depending on location, hours of sunlight, heaviness of traffic, and many other factors. While I am partial to an oil based transparent satin finish stain it may not be the best for your application. For more information visit manufacturer website and home centers.
Applying the stain is a pretty straightforward process. As always first and foremost follow manufacturer directions and safety instructions. I have found that applying the stain with a specialty deck stain brush makes the process easy and evenly spreads the stain, although the method of application will vary based on the stain you choose. Before you begin make sure to check your local weather forecast for rain or excessive pollen levels. Be sure to apply the stain evenly and not too heavily. If the stain is puddling up it means it is on too heavy and needs to be spread around and applied lighter.