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How to clean, stain & seal a deck

27th Jul '20 • By Rohit Mankame

Has your deck lost its glory? Here’s how to test your deck to determine whether you need to apply a cleaner, deck-stainer or sealer. Following this guide, we'll show you how to take your deck back to its prior excellence.

red brush painting wood

Testing the wood

Before you start, it's better to check with your local painter and test the wood to see if it really needs sealing or not. Test the wood by sprinkling water over it, if it absorbs the water then your deck needs resealing.

Not only does a finely polished wood deck look fantastic and prolong the life of the wood, it will also help increase the value of your property and make it more attractive to future buyers. The full method of refinishing a wood deck will include many individual steps including:

  • Inspection and repair
  • Cleaning
  • Power washing
  • Sanding
  • Staining/sealing

A professional-looking refinishing job can be completed in a weekend or two and can transform a drab, rundown old wood deck into a lively lovely entertainment area ready for a barbeque party!

Inspecting and repairing 

A thorough inspection will be one of the initial steps in your wood decking refinishing project, checking for any loose surface boards or issues with structural parts, like splitting or badly broken woods. If a broken or rotted deck board or other parts need to be repaired, do the necessary repairs before beginning the overall refinishing process.

Deck cleaning

The exact approach to cleaning a deck would depend on its current finish and on what your refinishing requirements are. 

When you have a painted or varnished wood deck and want a polished wood deck, use a chemical stripper to chip the paint or varnish off the deck surface first. Cleaning and sanding will follow, before adding a fresh stain coating. However, when you're just painting, the process is fairly simple: clean and sand, then repaint.

Deck cleaners uproot dirt, nail stains, green growth and mold. If your deck isn't new, utilize a cleaner before applying any deck sealers. Improperly cleaned decks are the most well-known explanation behind deck stains and sealers to fizzle. Try not to hold back on this imperative step.

To clean your deck, you’ll need a garden sprayer, paint roller or a stiff-bristled broom.

Once you apply the cleaner keep your deck wet with it, which may not be possible or definitely harder if only one person is working. It’s recommended that at least two people work together in order to complete the work fast.

Permit the cleaner to drench into the wood. Dousing time is generally close to 10 minutes, however check with your particular product instructions.

Finally, rinse the deck thoroughly with a garden hose or pressure washer. Wash equipment with soapy water. Rinse plastic sheeting with water and remove. Allow the deck to dry for at least two days before applying a sealer.

painted black deck

Selecting a wood stain

In your deck refinishing project one of the most essential phases is to pick the stain. Although once it was popular to stain wood first, then add some form of transparent surface sealer over it, today's items are generally one-step applications — penetrating stains that both dye the wood and soak it in to protect it. There are also simple clear sealers which merely penetrate and seal the wood without changing the colour.

Many people achieve the best results with a high-quality, absorbing, semi-transparent surface stain that is oil-based. You will need to go past the big box home improvement centre to head to a reputable paint shop to find this commodity but the effort and cost would be worth it.

Remember that the final stain colour, once applied, can vary from the samples or brochures. Once you agree to a significant amount, be careful to check how the colour would appear on your deck. It's a smart idea to buy a small bottle of stain and check it on your deck before you buy it by litre.

sealing a wooden deck by man

Using and applying stain or sealer

While applying a sealer or stain, make sure to thoroughly read the product instructions. Drying times can vary taking into account air temperature and humidity. Before you begin, check for required repairs in the timber, for example, split barricades or popped nails.

Here are our key tips to complete your project

  • Clear off any debris with a high pressure hose and make sure to clean between slats.
  • Ensure the deck is completely dry before applying a sealer or stain.
  • Blend the sealer or stain before use.
  • Try not to shake the sealer as air pockets will frame in the completion.
  • Two slim coats are superior to any one thick coat that doesn't appropriately follow or dry.
  • Utilise a paintbrush to apply the sealer or stain in corners and other troublesome regions, for example, steps, railings, end grain and breaks.
  • Permit the deck to dry completely.

Sound all a bit too hard? Sit back and relax, and find a local home maintenance professional near you. 

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