With the weather turning pleasant and summer on the way, this is the perfect time to spruce up a wooden deck – before planters and outdoor furniture make their appearance. And, it can be done in just a few easy steps!
Start with a thorough inspection of your deck, including the railings and adjacent stairs, looking for protruding nails or screws, as well as damaged or rotted wood. Any one of these issues can be a safety hazard, so address these problems first.
Tighten loose screws and hammer nails back into place. Then use wood filler to repair any damaged wood or, if necessary, replace it completely. Broken, splintered boards or badly rotted wood should always be replaced.
If you’ve stained or painted your deck in the past year or two, you might be able to restore its appearance by removing mildew and dirt with light power washing, then simply touching up the finish. But if your deck is badly weathered, or if you want to change the color, you’ll need to do heavier power washing and apply a new protective coating.
By far the most popular coating options for decks are water-based stains. Compared to solvent-based coatings, water-based stains dry more quickly, are practically odor-free, and offer easy cleanup with plain soap and water.
Water-based deck stains come in a wide range of colors and in two different formulations — semi-transparent stains and solid-color (opaque) stains.
Tinted semi-transparent stains add protection to a deck without hiding the grain or texture of the wood; solid-color stains, which contain even more protective pigment, show the texture of the wood, but not the grain.
The extra pigment in solid-color stains works like added sunscreen to help shield wood from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays. Consequently, solid-color stains frequently last four or even five years, while semi-transparent products must typically be reapplied every other year or so.
Regardless of the type of stain you use, be sure to choose a durable top quality coating. Look for products made with 100% acrylic binder – they are especially resistant to premature weathering, and somewhat more tolerant of physical abuse from foot traffic and abrasion from patio furniture.
There are several ways to apply your new deck stain — with spray equipment, long-handled roller, or the old-fashioned way using a high quality brush. Whichever method you choose, always apply stain in thick, heavy coats for maximum durability. And if you use a sprayer or roller, be sure to go back in when the stain is still wet and “back-brush” it to ensure good penetration into the wood.
After allowing the first coat of stain to dry thoroughly, take time to apply a second heavy coat. The extra application will provide added protection to your deck and may very well stretch out the life of your new finish.
So, if new deck stain is in your future, don’t delay. Summer is nearly here, and the clock is running. So run out to your local paint retailer, buy some top quality stain, and have some fun beautifying your wooden deck!