Deck Staining Tips

By Dave Lowell

We see them on poles, on lawn signs, around the back of a car; they may be advertisements for Power Washing, Deck Staining and Sealing. In case you possess little knowledge about the subject, trying to understand what is entailed in the act of staining your deck can be quite confusing. Getting estimates can be extremely frustrating as each estimator seems to have their own theories and methods associated with the job, and it's up to you, the homeowner to decide who you think knows more about the subject and can do a better job. The simple fact of the matter is, you'll find resources out there on wood applications etc., there is however no grand textbook that explains the correct method to keep your deck from rotting.

Most decks are constructed using two several types of wood, spruce, or pine which can be treated with Chromated Copper Arsenate (CCA), known as Pressure Treated Wood. The method of putting wood in long cylinders and inserting CCA with 150psi, started over the century ago when railroad crossties needed protection against rotting and termites. The first pressure preservative was creosote, something of coal tar distillation. Today, the purpose remains the same.

Let me clear up the myth on pressure treated wood. CCA will not protect wood against moisture. Whether it be rain, snow, a 30-degree day in July or possibly a freezing day in February, the wood on your beautiful backyard deck is expanding and contracting. Improper maintenance will bring about cracking, swelling and a selection of stains, all causing an uneven, unsightly appearance. Whether your deck is constructed of cedar or pine it too needs protection from nature's elements. Although CCA protects wood, it is a dangerous chemical. If you have young kids who like to be on the deck, it's very cognizant of protect them in case they opt to lick their fingers after crawling throughout it. After you've built a deck it's best to wait at least 2 months before you apply a sealer or stain on pressure treated wood to permit the CCA and the sugars in the wood to properly bond.

In case you have a deck that looks like it's been relaxing in a swamp for ten years, or like someone placed a stick of dynamite inside a paint can and lit the wick, don't worry, using the proper tools, the right products, and knowledgeable people, that deck can look very sharp. There are three several types of finishes to choose from: Applying a definite sealer will give it the moisture protection whilst that natural wood look; applying a semi-transparent stain won't protect it from moisture but will also add colour to your wood, or you might finish it with a solid stain. Though similar in features, a solid stain is not paint.

Clear sealers are by far the most cost efficient method in protecting decking from nature's elements. Clear sealers are utilized on wood that is either new, or has previously been sealed with a clear solution. Applying it on wood that features a little colour left from the old stain may seal the wood, but esthetically it's going to look very unpleasant. Do this at least every two years.

Another option, which is my personal favorite, is applying a semi-transparent stain. However, invest some time choosing a colour because if you do not have it removed with chemicals (which is often very costly) you are stuck with that colour tone. Unlike paint or solid stain, a semi-transparent stain will allow the old colour to show through. Using a proper application, the stain should last a minimum of 2-3 years on horizontal surfaces. This is how some complications may start. Improper application can bring about a very ugly mess, not only on your deck but also on your own house, plants, patio etc Semi-transparent stains are very runny and require a great deal of patience and focus. Sometimes, keeping a straight line seems easier to do with water. If you desire a deck with multi colours using semi-transparent stain, you desperately want an artist doing the job.

The final way is to apply a solid stain. Solid stains last the longest. Although it takes away from the natural beauty, it's the battle of esthetics vs. longevity. If the deck has been previously stained which has a solid finish, or painted (let's hope not), then detaching the old finish can sometimes be near impossible and extremely costly. A good application should make you maintenance free for at least 3-5 years. Some homeowners should you prefer a semi-transparent finish on the floor and horizontal surfaces, and a solid finish on the pickets and vertical surfaces. This may look gorgeous. Pressure (Power) Washing and Sanding

The very first task involved is to wash the wood. Depending on how much dirt and grime is present, scrubbing a deck cleaner into the wood provides the best results. Then, wash off of the cleaner with a pressure washer that will spray at least 2500psi of water, the greater pressure the better because it are able to clean deeper into the wood. Though this looks like an easy chore, holding a rod with 3200 pounds of water per sq . inch shooting out for a day isn't any walk in the park. To wash each board separately and a steady aim, trying never to gouge the wood or eliminate the flowers, takes skill and strength.

The wood needs no less than two days to dry out from the dousing. Then you need to sand the wood. Whether this can be done manually or with electric sanders, the wood needs to be smooth enough for your feet. Sanding will even help to open up the grains.

Applying the stain or sealer prematurely won't cause any permanent damage, however, if you have water in the wood it'll prevent the solution from soaking in to the wood like a wet sponge, and maximum protection will not be achieved. This includes not applying your stain or sealer on the rainy day. The finish will need time for it to dry, so check the weather channel.

Clear Sealers

You will find three methods to sealing patio decking with a clear sealer. One method is to spray the sealer on, this band are brilliant to roll it on. This works, however, you will need to do this once a year since the sealer is mostly sitting on the woods surface. Using a brush to apply the sealer gives maximum results. Here is the best way to push the sealer far in the wood. Doing it with a brush takes additional time and is more physically demanding, which can make the cost go up, but the answers are worth it.

Semi-Transparent Stains

Semi-transparent stains are strictly supposed to penetrate into the wood. By using a brush is imperative with this type of application. Rolling or spraying the stain to save lots of time is acceptable, however it should be followed by a brush to push the stain in along with a rag to wipe off any excess stain if employing an oil based stain. Simply rolling or spraying it does not give you a nice finish. The stain won't permeate the wood and you'll want to do it the following year.

Staining with semi-transparent stains could be very an art. In order to achieve maximum protection you have to soak the wood with stain, travelling along doing 2-3 boards at a time. Stopping half way down a board will leave a line. As soon as the stain has sat for 5-10 minutes, the excess stain (the shiny stuff) needs to be wiped off with a rag if it hasn't sunk in yet, it won't. Eventually, it's going to wash away with the rain, but in the meantime, it will not look very professional. It's essential not to apply stain in direct sunlight or temperatures exceeding 30 degrees Celsius as the stain will dry before it sinks to the wood and it will peel away right away. Depending on the porosity of the wood, to accomplish a rich colour you may require a second coat within Twenty minutes of applying the first coat. Allowing the initial coat to dry can provide a seal, repelling any stain from penetrating into the wood. An experienced person can multi task and do several boards at a time.

Solid Stain

As with all the other methods, an excellent pressure wash is needed. Once dried, when there is an existing solid finish, it needs a very good sanding job, thinning the stain on the surface as best as possible. With this application it is imperative to do every one of the necessary prep work, and not to buy the cheap stuff. A gallon of an good solid stain should cost approximately $50. I would recommend using latex solid stains over oil since the oil finish will become hard and won't be capable of adapt to the weather changes, leading to cracking and chipping. A primer coat is required, along with two finish coats. Some stains contain an oil primer, for grip, plus a latex finish on the surface for flexibility. They are ideal as you eliminate the initial primer coat. This should be the only time where using a roller without brushing out is allowed. As long as it has a good sanding, your deck should prove fine.


Though very similar in appearance, a solid stain's components are quite different than paint. Painting a deck will lead to disaster once it sets out to peal and flake. Exterior paint is not designed for deck floors where water and snow settle, as well as holding up to the pressure of folks walking on it. This is very vital that you know.

My advice to homeowners is to buy the job that suits you and hire the right people. Properly maintaining your deck doesn't signify you need thousands of dollars. Whether you're spending several hundreds bucks a year to guard your deck, or fifteen hundred dollars every 3-4 years to have a work of genius in your backyard, make sure you get it done properly.

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