About Deck Stain

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Regular staining of your deck will help to ensure that the deck looks its best. Stains are available in several colors to match your house and to enhance the look of your home's exterior. Stains will protect your deck from warping and rotting.

Function

  • Staining your deck prevents it from becoming worn. A deck that is not stained will suffer from harsh weather conditions and use. This can lead to mold and mildew growth in the wood, rotting of the wood and warping.
    Staining your deck will prevent the wood from the perils of the weather and keep it looking its best.

Considerations

  • Decks, whether new or old, need to be properly cleaned before staining.

    New decks need to be cleaned to remove the mill scale, which is the build-up that occurred as the new lumber was being milled.

    Old decks need to be cleaned so that the stain is properly absorbed. Over time dirt and grime build up and staining without cleaning will prevent the stain from properly absorbing into the wood. Old decking may also have previous stain on it. This stain needs to be removed before new stain can be applied. This will allow the stain to properly absorb and prevent future flaking. The best way to remove old stain from an aged deck is to power wash it, then allow it to dry for at least 24 hours.

Expert Insight

  • Brighteners need to be used prior to applying your first coat of stain. They are the most neglected portion of the staining process. Brighteners will help to restore the look of older wood. They will also remove any residue from stain strippers that you might have used and they require very little effort. Brighteners are applied by spraying them on and then rinsing off.

Types

  • There are several types of stains to consider. You may choose an oil-based stain or a water-borne stain.
    Water-borne stains were once thought of as inferior to oil-based. As more and more people are worried about their impact on the environment, companies are making improved products. Water-borne stains come in a wide variety of colors and you do not have to worry about your deck being completely dry prior to using them. They clean up with soap and water and are easily absorbed into the wood. If you stain your deck and it rains shortly afterward, you do not have to worry about water-borne stains running.
    Oil-based stains are known for their ability to penetrate the wood. The downfall to oil-based stains is that they can harbor mold and mildew once applied. Oil-based stains also have a slower turnaround time, and if it rains after you apply an oil-based stain it can be ruined.

Misconceptions

  • Decks do not need to be stained every year. With proper maintenance and a semiannual cleaning, you can go two or three years before needing to restain your deck.
    With deck stain more is not better. You do not want to over-saturate your deck with more stain than it can absorb. This will lead to problems down the road such as flaking or peeling.

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  • Photo Credit Christopher Howard
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