Without proper maintenance, a deck soon becomes an eyesore rather than a relaxing outdoor space. Since decks are constantly exposed to the elements, they require regular maintenance. Deck staining is one of the best ways of keeping this outdoor haven in mint condition. The following are some of the advantages of deck staining:
Keep Away Moisture Moisture is the number one enemy of any wooden surface. Over time, the coating of the wood wears off, allowing moisture to seep through. When wood absorbs moisture, it rots. In the winter, water trapped in the wood can expand, causing more severe damage such as cracks.
Prevent Infestation Staining discourages the growth of mildew and mold. Also, stained wood is less likely to suffer insect infestation.
Reduce Sun Damage Sunlight causes the cracking, warping, and splintering of wood. Additionally, direct sunlight causes fading. Staining reduces these effects by allowing less sunlight to penetrate the surface of the wood.
Enhance the Appearance A fresh coat of stain will significantly improve the appearance of an otherwise aging deck. Besides, a properly maintained deck, like most outdoor spaces, will add value to your home. Plus, staining, unlike painting, highlights the wood grain, giving your home a more natural look.
How Often Should You Stain Your Deck?
Since decks are horizontal, they take an extra beating from the weather, including rain, snow, dew, and sunlight. Unlike siding or even the roof, water does not efficiently run off the surface of your deck. Sunlight degrades the wood, especially if your deck is not in the shade.
The point is, decks require maintenance. Experts recommend re-staining every two to three years. However, if you already see signs of deterioration in the staining, you need not wait any longer.
That said, other factors affect the durability of deck staining. The most critical factor is surface preparation before staining. You should properly clean and dry the surface before applying the stain.
Remove the existing stain or paint by sanding and sweep off the dirt and debris. You could use a flat-head screwdriver to work between deck boards. Then apply a deck cleaner and rinse off using a pressure washer or garden hose.
Allow two days for the deck to dry before applying the stain.
When Should You Stain Your Deck?
There are two things you need to stain your deck properly: time and good weather. Time depends on the size of the deck and how much preparation is required. The worse the condition of the deck, the more time you’ll need to prepare.
Weather is another factor. Deck stain absorbs into the wood. However, it dries quickly. If it dries too quickly, it will not last long, so avoid staining your deck in direct sunlight. In other words, the middle of a summer day might not be the best time to stain your deck.
Wet wood does not readily absorb treatments. Make sure the wood is dried out before applying the stain.
The best time to stain your wood deck is when rain is not in the forecast for the next two days, and temperatures are not expected to go above 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
Water-Based Versus Oil-Based Stains
Water-based stains are easier to apply. Plus, they have less odor and are easier to clean. Also, they better maintain the natural color of the wood and have a shorter drying time.
On the other hand, oil-based stains are more durable, which is a great advantage in areas with harsh weather. However, they do not dry quickly, which is not necessarily a disadvantage since more time allows you to achieve a more even finish. But they’re challenging to apply. As such, if you have little experience, leave oil-based staining to the pros.
DIY Deck Staining Versus Hiring A Professional
Before you decide to go the DIY route, you need to consider the cost of the supplies and tools that you need. Supplies include tarps, sandpaper, deck cleaner, stain, push broom, power washer, paintbrushes, and high-quality stain.
Next, you need to assess your skills. While it seems easy enough, it does require some handyman skills.
Finally, ask yourself if you have the time. Even the easiest of deck staining projects will require at least two days.
Remember, the durability and quality of deck staining are dependent not only on the quality of the stain but also on proper application.