Updated: Sep 30, 2019
Cleaning and staining/sealing a deck can be quite the process. As stated in our previous blog on cleaning, you always want to begin by assessing the state of the wood by performing a water test. Should you determine that the wood is absorbing moisture, proceed to check for disrepair and replace boards accordingly, before sanding any areas of the wood that have become fuzzy over time.
Next, consider which nearby trees and shrubs should be covered before applying a cleaner. Once you’ve applied the wood cleaner, wait 10 minutes and then power wash your deck thoroughly, minding the spray so as not to damage the wood. Assuming the forecast calls for 50 to 90 degrees and sunny skies, give the wood approximately 48 hours to dry before applying your stain/sealer.
Clear vs. Semi-transparent
Stains can either be clear or semi-transparent. Ultimately, the decision which type of stain to go with comes down to whether you’d prefer that the wood retain its natural grain and color, or if you would like to add some color to your deck. Before you make a decision, though, be sure to consider the amount of shade your deck receives during the day.
If your deck gets a lot of sun exposure, it may not be in your best interest to apply a clear stain. Unfortunately, showing off the wood’s natural grain means that you will most likely need to seal your deck again sooner rather than later. That said, it’s good practice to seal a deck every one to two years; so if you decide that it's worth putting in the effort to get the desired effect, then a clear stain is the way to go.
On the other hand, a semi-transparent stain will ultimately help protect the wood from the sun, as well as add character and ambiance to your deck. Semi-transparent stains come in a variety of pigments, including shades of blue, grey, brown, green, and red. So, regardless of whether you decide to go with a clear or semi-transparent stain, you’ll have plenty of options from which to choose.
Applying a Sealer
Once you’ve selected a stain/sealer, double-check that all nearby bushes and plants are well covered to prevent them from getting splattered with chemicals and, if necessary, use painter’s tape to protect any other exposed areas of your deck. Now it's time to apply your sealer.
Although it’s faster to use a paint roller to apply the sealer, you’ll still want to go over certain areas of the deck with a paintbrush to make sure the sealer has been properly worked into the pores and grain of the wood. This is especially important for the railing and tight corners, where a paint roller simply won’t cut it. If you have the time, however, a brush will be the most effective for this type of project.
Regardless of whether you use a paint roller or brush, be sure to work backwards so that you don’t tread through the sealer and smudge your hard work. Once you’ve finished, give the wood about a day to dry, and then inspect the deck thoroughly to ensure that you haven’t missed any spots. And, finally, host a backyard party to show off your revitalized deck. After all, you’ve earned it!