It’s ironic that a wooden deck – symbolic of leisure time – often requires much more upkeep than other parts of the home exterior. That said, there are steps you can take to help matters: By applying the right type of stain to your deck, and the right brand of product, you can greatly stretch out the staining cycle and save yourself lots of work in the process.
Why are decks such a challenge when it comes to upkeep? It’s because they have face-up exposure. Unlike walls, soffit, and other areas that mostly suffer only glancing blows from the weather, decks are typically subject to full sun, direct impact from precipitation, soaking from standing water… and the coup de grace: abrasion from footsteps and furniture. That puts a lot of stress on the surface.
To help your deck deal with all of this distress, it’s wise to protect it as much as possible. Top quality clear coatings will provide some protection, but they usually have to be applied every year. If that doesn’t sound appealing, then confine your search to pigmented stains. Not only do the tiny pigment particles impart color; they also prolong the life of the stain.
Pigmented stains come in two types and, here again, you have a choice: “semi-transparent” stains, which permit the wood’s grain and texture to show, need to be reapplied every 18 months or so; more heavily pigmented “solid-color” stains, which show the wood’s texture but not the grain, can last three to five years.
Now comes the critical point: Regardless of the type of stain you choose, it’s extremely important that it be a top quality coating. How can you spot the best quality deck stain among the many products on your retailer’s shelves?
First, zero in on water-based stains made with 100% acrylic binder. These stains are extremely tough and durable, so they’ll last longer than run-of-the-mill coatings. Many even contain special ingredients that help prevent unsightly mildew from forming.
But there’s an even better way to identify the deck stains that will provide the longest protection for your deck: Relying on the results of scientific testing.
Technicians at the Paint Quality Institute constantly evaluate the performance of nearly every deck stain on the market. The results of their studies show that some top quality 100% acrylic coatings outperform the others — providing the most durable, longest-lasting protection for wood decks. These “super-durable” deck stains include: