The first thing to do is to thoroughly inspect the deck, as well as railings and any adjacent steps or stairs, looking for protruding screws or nails, and damaged or rotted wood.
Tighten loose screws and hammer nails back into place. Then use wood filler to repair damaged wood or, if necessary, replace it completely. Broken boards or badly rotted wood should always be replaced.
If your deck was stained or painted in the past year or two, you might be able to restore its appearance by simply power washing to remove dirt and mildew, and touching up any repaired areas. More likely, if you’ve come this far (or want to change the color of your deck), you’ll be applying a new protective coating.
Today’s most popular options for decks are water-based stains. Compared to solvent-based products, water-based coatings dry more quickly, are largely odor-free, and offer easy cleanup with just soap and water.
Water-based deck stains come in a wide array of colors and two different formulations: semi-transparent coatings and solid-color stains.
Semi-transparent stains protect a deck without hiding the grain or texture of the wood. Solid-color stains, which contain more protective pigment, show the texture of the wood, but not the grain.
The extra pigment in solid-color stains acts as added sunscreen, in effect, helping to shield the wood from the sun’s harmful UV rays. As a result, solid-color stains often last four or five years, while semi-transparent stains typically need to be reapplied at least every other year.
No matter which type of stain you favor, it’s very important to apply a highly durable top quality coating. The best products are made with 100% acrylic; these will better stand up to the rigors of Mother Nature, and to the physical abuse from foot traffic and abrasion from patio furniture, planters, and children’s playthings.
You can apply new deck stain in a number of ways -- with spray equipment, by long-handled roller, or with a high quality brush. For maximum durability, always apply stain in thick, heavy coats. And if you choose to work with a sprayer or roller, take time to go back in while the stain is still wet and “back-brush” it to get better penetration into the wood.
It’s always important to apply a second coat of stain after allowing the first coat to dry thoroughly. For information on drying time and other helpful information, refer to the label on the can and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
Remember, it’s only three weeks until Memorial Day, and the clock is running. So run out to your local paint retailer, pick up some top quality stain, and get your deck ready for the summer season ahead!
To learn more, visit the Paint Quality Institute online at blog.paintquality.com.