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If you have never stained your wood deck or fence, now is the time of year to have it protected from the winter elements.
Keeping the deck clear of leaves and debris and giving it a routine cleaning will help keep moisture from becoming trapped in areas and keep the deck in overall good health.
For a wood fence, think of how the wet fall leaves can rot out the bottom of your fence. In a couple of years of not being protected, your four-legged friends can escape.
It’s a good idea once or twice a season, or every other month, to get some dish soap and wet the deck down and clean it with a straw brush or broom.
Pressure washing is an effective way to deep clean a deck, but it’s also an easy way to ruin it. Homeowners not experienced with pressure washing should leave that job to the professionals.
“A lot of times, they’ll scar the wood because the tip is too close or they’re using too much pressure,” Ron Bledsoe with Paint Ovations says. “They’ll fur the wood up, or scar it.”
Ron recommends staining and sealing a deck every three to four years. Before staining, his company thoroughly cleans the deck, inspects the wood and fasteners for any safety issues and applies a conditioner for better stain penetration. It’s important the wood also be dry, or the stain can peel easily. Ron’s company uses a moisture meter and looks for a moisture content of around 15 percent.
Homeowners thinking of staining a deck themselves should consider the investment of the materials, equipment and time it takes to do the job well.
“The mistake people make is they get a bid from a professional and they compare that to the price of the stain,” Ron says. “Well, there’s much more that goes into it than that. There’s the proper equipment; the knowledge; the expertise that they have. It’s a big job to do it right and the professionals know how to do it. They do it every single day. They know how to (protect) your yard; know what products to use and how to install them. And, if there’s a problem, they are accountable for the repairs; not you.”
Deck and Fence Staining Materials
- Deck cleaner
- Garden hose or power washer
- Orbital sander
- Paint brush
Deck and Fence Staining Process
- Check the weather reports. Wait for a three-day stretch of time without rain and with low humidity. For best results, pick a day when the skies will be overcast (direct sunlight can cause problems as the stain dries). Temperatures outside will ideally be about 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Tip: If you wish to do this project at a time when it’s very hot or cold outside, check the container of stain before getting started to ensure that outdoor temperatures are acceptable.
- Clean the deck with deck cleaner, following the instructions on the container for best results. Do this the day before you get started and make sure the deck is fully dry when you start to stain.
- Make any necessary repairs. Use wood filler to fill scratches or gouges that may have developed in the wood. Rotten boards that feel soft need to be replaced with treated lumber. For a tutorial on how to replace rotten boards on a deck, take a look at this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pQG6Lg47-Xk
- Lightly sand the deck with an orbital sander, then sweep away the sanding dust.
- Cover the bushes and landscaping in the area around the deck with tarps.
- Apply the deck stain with a paint brush. This may sound low-tech, but using a paint sprayer can result in wasted stain and an uneven finish. Tip: Wipe up puddles with rags as you go. Don’t allow the stain to pool in any one spot on the deck.
- Apply a second or third coat as needed until the stain is uniform and even. Most stains are a one coat application. Tip: Don’t let the stain dry between coats. Stain is designed to repel liquid, so once the stain has dried, the wood will no longer absorb the second and third coats of stain.
Check out the available deck stain colors.
This project should be done every couple of years or when the stain starts to wear away in high-traffic areas, whichever comes first.
Staining your deck in the fall will help you to stay on a regular schedule so you do not neglect your deck. A lot of people also like getting a good coat of stain prior to winter weather, which can be harsh on a deck. Enjoying your deck and other things in life all season and planning to stain your deck in the fall can be the ticket to regular deck maintenance.
Call 972-741-4995 Paint Ovations today to have your deck or fence professionally protected.
Here are some of the more popular answers to the most common deck and fence staining questions:
- No deck stain will last 5+ years. A good quality stain will last 2 or maybe 3 years on a deck floor (horizontal) and typically twice as long on railings, siding, etc. (verticals).
- Penetrating stains will have less chance of peeling as they soak into the wood grain and do not film on top of the wood grain when fully cured.
- Penetrating deck stains are easier to maintain by cleaning and reapplying after 2-3 years.
- Filming Deck Stains that dry on top of the wood can be harder to remove and/or reapply as they are more prone to peeling, wear, flaking, etc.
- Not all Deck Stains are penetrating. Even when they claim otherwise.
- Semi-transparent, Transparent, and Semi-Solids will show the grain of the wood to some extent. Solid stains, Deck Resurface Coatings, and Paints will not.
- Clear sealers without any pigment/color will not prevent UV graying. Lighter Pigmented stains that are Transparent, Semi-Transparent, or Semi-solid will have less UV protection than Darker Pigmented stains in the same transparency. More color/tint = better UV protection.
- Deck Stains are either Oil-Based or Water-Based. Filming or penetrating. Transparent, Semi-Transparent, Semi-Solid, Solid (opaque) Stains or a Deck Resurface Coating. See here for more info on Deck Stain Types.
- Oil-based stains can still be used in all States and Canada as long as they are compliant to local VOC regulations.
- When switching brands of deck stain, it is always best to remove the old coating first. Do this by using a Deck Stain Stripper and/or sanding.
- Always apply a Wood Brightener after prepping with a Stain Stripper or Wood Deck Cleaner to neutralize the caustic.
- New Decks (less than a year) are treated differently than older decks (more than 1 year). New decks need to be prepped and usually cannot be stained right away. See this about Staining New Decks.
- Prep, Prep, Prep = increased longevity of a stain.