How can you tell if it is time to seal your deck?
There is a simple water test that you can do. Sprinkle some water on your deck. If it beads up then your deck can wait, however, if the water is quickly absorbed into the wood, then your deck needs to be stained.
Before staining your deck, you will want to clean it, as you do not want to trap dirt, mildew, other things against the wood, as this can damage your deck.
To clean your deck you will first want to clear any objects off the deck, the sweep off dirt and debris and be sure to clean between the cracks of the boards. If you notice any rough spots or splintered areas on your deck go ahead and sand those down with 80 grit-sand paper before sweeping. Next you will want to get some deck cleaner, be sure you read the instructions, some cleaners can be used with garden sprayers, others will need to be applied with a paint roller or other method. Also take precautions to protect any exposed plants around your deck, as the cleaner could damage them.
Follow the instructions on your deck cleaner to finish the cleaning process.
Now you will need allow your deck to dry for about 2 days. During this time you may want to go ahead and choose the stain or sealer that you will be using. When choosing a stain or sealer be sure to choose one that is designed to repel water, resist mildew, and prevent fading. You can choose between oil based and water based stains. However, keep in mind that oil based finishes require less upkeep than water based finishes.
First step in applying your stain or sealer is to read the instructions that come with it. Also keep in mind that your drying time will vary depending on the temperature and humidity in your area.
Now you will need to repair any boards that have splits or popped up nails.
Wear appropriate work clothing for the process of staining your deck.
Check the weather, you will need at least two days of dry weather with a minimum temperature of 50 degrees.
Clear everything off of your deck.
Sand down all rough areas. Be sure to sand with the grain of the wood. Wear a safety mas and do not inhale the sawdust.
Sweep off all of the dust and debris left over from sanding.
Cover nearby plants and shrubs to keep the stain off of them. Clear plastic is the best method for keeping them covered.
Stir your stain or sealer. Do not shake it, otherwise you will have bubbles in your finish.
Apply a thin even coat over a two to three board section with a pain roller or a sprayer. Two thinner coats are preferred to one thick coat. A thick coat of stain/sealer will not adhere well or dry well causing your deck to look unfinished and messy.
Don't let the sealer/stain puddle up. Use a roller or broom to spread the puddles and work the finish into the wood.
Repeat this process for your entire porch or deck.
Allow to completely dry.
Rinse your plants cover and clean all your equipment with soapy water. Do not dispose of rags that are wet with the finish, the finish can generate enough heat to cause a flash fire in your garbage.
- Don't apply deck product in direct sun. The finish will dry too quickly and won't absorb into the wood.
- Use the water test to check your deck every few months to ensure the sealer is repelling water.
- Regularly sweep off debris.