Keeping Your Wood Deck Beautiful
Choosing the right time
It’s important that the weather be dry when you are cleaning and refinishing your wood deck. Wood will not absorb stain well if it is wet. Watch the weather forecast and wait for a period of at least three or four days when no rain is forecast and temperatures will be between 50 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
Preparing the wood deck surface
Any surface needing repainting or staining must be clean. Before you clean your wood deck, sandpaper splintered and damaged areas to smooth those edges. Then sweep the deck. Now you can clean the deck’s surface to prepare to receive the stain.
You can clean a wood deck with a special deck cleaner. Oxygenated cleaners, which contain sodium percarbonate, are healthier for wood than bleaching cleaners, which contain sodium hypochlorite. You can find cleaners online or at a home improvement store. Follow label instructions carefully.
Power washing is an alternative method of cleaning a wood deck. A power washer blasts the dirt, algae, mold and oxidation away, preparing a fresh, clean surface on which to apply stain. If you choose this cleaning method, you must allow two to three days for the deck to dry thoroughly before you apply stain.
Important note: if your deck was built before 2004, there’s a good chance it contains arsenic from the chemicals used to treat the wood. Because cleaning the deck could release arsenic into the air and soil, it’s best to hire a professional cleaner who will catch and properly dispose of the debris from washing.
Choosing the new deck stain
Not all stains are alike in quality. You want one that will last three to five years. Conduct your own online search, but some of the best brands, such as Sikkens or Cabot, are not commonly carried in home improvement stores.
There are three types of stains for wood decks.
Solid stains. Acting almost like paint, these stains cover the wood’s grain. Solid stains will last up to five years.
Semi-transparent stains. These products allow the wood’s grain to show through, so they’re best for wood with a handsome grain. These stains should last two to three years.
Clear sealers. These products act as water repellents but will not prevent aging from the sun and must be reapplied annually.
Unless you completely strip off the old finish with a power washer before staining, you should apply the same type of stain that is already on the deck. For example, it won’t work to apply a semi-transparent product to a deck that’s already been treated with a solid stain.
Applying the stain
Use a roller with a one-quarter-inch nap or less. Apply a thin coat in long, smooth strokes to prevent puddles, which won’t absorb well. To reach spaces too tight for the roller, use a brush with synthetic bristles. After applying stain, stay off the deck and allow it to dry for a day, then apply a second coat. Wait another day, then return your outdoor furniture and enjoy your gorgeous deck for years to come.