Guide to Re-staining Your Deck
The deck is an awesome place to hangout, but between being walked on and the weather, decks take a ton of abuse and need to be redone every few years. Choosing the right stain and proper preparation can minimize the work and keep your deck looking new and protect the wood for long-lasting use.
The weather, the amount of use and the type of stain you use will determine how frequently your deck will need to be redone. The typical deck will last anywhere between two and five years.
The normal progression of a deck is to use transparent or semi-transparent deck stains for the first years of the deck's life. As the wood gets worn and begins to look uneven, you would use a semi-solid and then eventually move to a solid stain once the deck is in bad shape.
Transparent, semi-transparent and semi-solid deck stains offer the least amount of protection and need to be redone every 2 years. However, they often look the best and thankfully require the least amount of preparation to re-stain. Solid deck stains, on the other hand, require more work to re-stain, but usually lasts about 5 years.
Step 1: Gather Your Equipment
The first thing to do is to get the equipment you will need:
- Power Washer with at least 3,000 psi that includes a fan tip of 40 degrees
- A 2 gallon pump sprayer with a fan tip
- TSP or a substitute for TSP or trisodium phosphate
- Boots and a good pair of rain pants (PVC coated)
- Note: If you have a redwood or cedar deck you will also need a wood brightener like oxalic acid.
Step 2: Check Your Deck for Damaged Boards
You will want to check your deck for loose or cracked boards because you will need to replace them before you start staining. Pick the same type of wood and secure the new one in with decking screws made from stainless steel. Trim any plants that you have around and completely wet any plants that sit near your deck.
Step 3: Get To Know Your Power Washer
This is a powerful machine and it can gouge the wood if you are not careful. If you are not used to the power you can hurt yourself or break glass. Spending time to get used to the machine will help you get the confidence you need to use it on your deck. Always use the 40-degree fan tip because it will give the most even spread. If you do not like the power washer the other suggestion is to use a stiff and sturdy bristle scrub brush but this will take a lot longer although it will give the same result.
Step 4: Wait for It To Dry
In this stage you are just waiting about three days for the deck to dry so you can apply the stain.
Step 5: Apply the Stain
Deck stains come in transparent, semi-transparent, semi-solid and solid-color stains. The primary difference among the transparent stains is the amount of pigment they contain. They are all considered penetrating stains because they absorb into the wood. Only one coat of transparent stains can be applied. If the wood is really dry and is sucking up the stain, and second coat can be applied immediately (wet on wet). Once the stain is dry do not apply a second coat. The stain will have sealed the wood preventing the second coat of penetrating stain from penetrating the wood. This will create an uneven gloss and a stain that will flake off and look terrible.
Solid deck stain, on the other hand, does not penetrate into the wood and is basically a thin paint. It sits on top of the wood as a film.
Any of the transparent stains can simply be applied once the wood is dry after washing. Solid stains require a few extra steps. First, all loose existing stain must be scraped off. Second, any bare wood must be primed with an alkyd exterior primer. And finally, two coats of the solid deck stain should be applied.
Once you've done the work, sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labor. Kick back in the chez lounge and fire up the BBQ. And if you don't have one yet, get a retractable awning so you can fully enjoy your deck any time of day in cool comfort. And visit Breslow Home Design Center for a retractable awning in New Jersey