There is more to staining a deck than rinsing the loose dirt off and applying some stain. Do this and you are headed for a splotchy, uneven finish that you’ll regret. And your weekend project has turned into a year-long nightmare.
Here are a few tips to help you prepare your deck for the winter season and avoid the nightmare.
Why is it important to stain your deck?
The worst thing for any wood is the sun. It literally breaks down the fibers of the wood and causes it lose layers over the years. UV rays turn your beautiful golden wood to an ugly gray color as it dries out the oils. This leads to cracking and to quickly needing to replace your deck. A simple 12 x 12 deck can cost about $3600, and left unprotected you could be paying this more than you need to.
Mold, mildew, wood rot and algae are other problems we find on decks, and these organisms tend to grow on shaded areas of the deck. These also damage the wood and cause a risk factor as the deck becomes extremely slippery and dangerous to walk on.
These are the issues we deal with when we leave wood unprotected. But we can fix this! Properly apply stain to your deck on a regular basis and you will protect your deck from the harmful effects of the environment, and will ultimately save thousands of dollars in replacement costs.
How do you stain your deck?
Many people begin a deck staining project with the idea that you just need to rinse and apply. Easy, right? Unfortunately, this will leave you with a splotchy finish, along with fading and chipping in a few months. You’ll actually end up spending more trying to reapply year after year due to improper application.
Prepare Your Surface
In order to properly stain a deck the surface first needs to be prepared to receive it. How to prepare the wood all depends on what condition the wood is currently in and whether or not it’s been stained before. If it’s been stained before, the next question becomes whether or not it was oil based or water based. After that is established, you need to determine if this will be a maintenance re-stain or if we are starting from scratch. All these factors need to be understood before moving forward.
Once these things have been established we can begin the preparation process. Preparation starts with a good cleaning. Stain cannot be applied over sun damaged or moldy wood. Professional grade cleaners will be able to kill these infestations, as well as lift sun damage from the wood. After allowing the cleaners to set, it needs to be washed with low to medium pressure rinse by way of a pressure washer. Caution is recommended. Too much pressure will damage the wood, to little pressure will not get the job done, and improper techniques will leave wand streaks in the wood and will affect the overall appearance of the finish.
Restore pH Balance
After the wood has been cleaned a brightener will need to be applied to restore the pH balance to the wood. Cleaners will cause the pH levels to rise in the wood causing an imbalance. The stain will not adhere to the wood properly unless proper pH is restored. Applying a brightener will bring the levels back to into balance, ensuring the wood is able to receive the stain. The stain needs to penetrate the pores of the wood to properly protect the surface.
Once the wood is cleaned and restored to a proper pH balance, it is then ready for stain. It is important to note that staining needs to be done in the proper temperature. Extreme cold and extreme heat is never a good time to stain a deck. Nor is it a good time to stain when it is damp outside.
How do you choose a finish? There are many choices: Natural, Semi-Transparent, Semi-Solid, and Solid. A natural may fade a little faster than the others, a solid may peel. A semi-transparent or semi-solid may give you the best of both worlds—protection, minimal fade and minimal peeling. To mitigate premature peeling and fading, it is recommended to choose a quality brand.
This is a job a do-it-yourselfer can tackle if you are up to the challenge. When in doubt, use a professional. Quality cleaners and stains are key in this job. A professional will know what works best in your area and will have the equipment to do the job.
We are here to help. Contact us for a free estimate for any of your exterior cleaning projects.
Clean Pro Exteriors
Rocky Mount, NC