You finally built the deck of your dreams. Before you get around to enjoying it, take the time to protect your investment. This easy guide from Blain’s Farm & Fleet will help you protect the quality of your deck and lengthen its life.
The beauty and durability of any stain job depend on how well you prepare the surface and the quality of the stain you use. A lot of homeowners spend hours researching and choosing the right stain for their deck, but don’t give any thought to properly prepping its surface.
Prepping The Surface For Deck Stain
The first part of preparing a new deck for staining is to wait. Let your deck get a season of wear under its belt before you stain it for the first time. This will ensure that it’s thirsty enough to absorb the deck stain. The wood grain will also be more visible if you let the deck age a bit before applying your first coat.
Next, look for problem areas and obvious construction defects. The surface should be in a good, sound condition, with no signs of erosion, rot, or decay. If you find problem areas, you’ll have to sand the area down until you hit good wood.
You’ll also need to check for surface contaminants like mildew stains, cedar bleed, dirt and chalkiness. Remove such contaminants before applying the stain, but remember, there is no single cure for every surface problem. To clean your deck, use a stiff-bristled push broom and deck cleaner solution. Dip the broom in the solution and scrub briskly with the grain of the wood. Scrub small sections at a time, about 3-5 square feet. Rinse the solution off with a pressure washer before it has a chance to dry.
Once you’ve scrubbed and rinsed the deck, give it plenty of time to dry.
Next is the fun part: choosing your deck stain.
Choosing a Deck Stain for Your Deck
Oil-based stains replenish the moisture in the wood that it loses as the sun dries it out. Which type of stain you use is up to you. Stains come in a number of different finishes. Tinted natural finishes add nearly transparent color and allow the most wood grain and texture to show through. Semi-solid or semi-opaque finishes mostly mask the wood grain, but allow texture to show through. Fully solid finishes add rich, opaque color that completely hides the wood grain while allowing some texture to show.
Which deck stain is best for you usually depends on the condition of your deck. If your deck is in good shape, go with the tinted, mostly transparent finishes. If it has some mild defects, A semi-solid stain will help you hide them. If you’ve had to sand your deck down due to serious rot or decay in some spots, opt for a fully solid deck stain to cover up the uneven color.
How to Stain A Deck
Now you get to apply your stain. Try to stain the entire deck in one day when it’s freshly cleaned and completely dry. Generally, the best tool to apply oil-based products is a high quality, natural bristle brush. Synthetic fiber paint brushes work best for acrylic-based stains. A 4-inch-wide brush will give you enough control and coverage to get the job done. Be sure to apply the deck stain generously and get it down into the cracks between the boards.
The amount of time it will take to dry depends on the type of deck stain you use. Read and follow the directions on the label to be sure that you apply your deck stain correctly. Once you’ve applied your stain, let it dry for the amount of time suggested on the label. Check for wet spots and wipe them off with a dry cloth to prevent them from getting tacky and collecting dirt. Once your deck is dry, congratulate yourself for protecting your investment with a job well done.