Decks are a big investment. To keep your deck looking great and to help it last as long as possible, you should stain it at least every three to four years. Fall is the perfect time to take on the task of staining your deck. Not only will you not roast in the sweltering summer temperatures, but the cooler fall weather is ideal for staining. Most deck stains recommend that they be used when outdoor temperatures are above 50 and below 90. Staining your deck in the fall also puts a layer of moisture protection on your deck before all the winter snow arrives.
Preparation and patience are critical when staining your deck. Rushing the project or skipping steps will produce less than desirable results. The first step is to carefully inspect your deck for wood rot, cracked or splintered boards, missing or loose boards, loose screws or nails, and ant or termite damage. Fix or replace any damaged areas before proceeding.
Once you’ve made all the necessary repairs, clean the surface of your deck with a deck cleaner and then rinse with a power washer to remove mold, mildew, algae, and stains. Wood brighteners are a great option. They help by opening up the surface of the wood to improve penetration. Use caution when using a power washer. It is easy for someone who is inexperienced to gouge or damage the wood. If you prefer not to use a power washer, you can also use a stiff-bristle scrub brush to get the same results. Next, lightly sand all of the surfaces and then power wash again. Be sure to rinse it thoroughly to remove all of the cleansing chemicals.
It is critical that you select a time when rain is not in the forecast for several days before you begin staining. Your deck needs to be completely dry before you begin staining. Allow at least three days of dry weather after you finishing cleaning and preparing your deck. It will also need two to three days without moisture after you finish staining.
When purchasing stain or sealer, buy a high-quality product for the best results. Which type of stain you choose will depend on the results you want to achieve. Clear stains allow the wood grain to show but offer little UV protection. Solid stains offer better UV protection and tend to last longer but they hide the wood grain. Semi-transparent stains are a nice compromise, blocking most UV rays while still allowing some wood grain to show. The transparency will vary depending on the type of wood so it is best to test it on a piece of scrap wood before you begin applying it to your deck. You’ll also need to decide if you want water-based or oil-based stain. Oil-based stains penetrate deeper and tend to last longer, usually about two to four years. Water-based stains are more environmentally friendly but they are more prone to cracking and peeling and usually need to be redone every year or two. Some newer water-based stains offer durability and longevity similar to oil-based ones. Deck stains are available in a range of colors to suit any preference. If you’re unsure of which type of stain will provide the results you desire, the experts at McCray Lumber and Millwork can help you find the perfect one.