2 Steps to a Great Deck Finish – Stains, Sealers and Paints

Currently there is a fair amount of disagreement on the subject of when to apply a finish of some sort to that new wood deck.

Every deck no matter how well it is built cannot escape weathering. Failure to apply a protective coating will result in the wood weathering into its natural grey tones. It is a wise choice to coat the entire deck with a finish soon after its completion. Pressure treated wood, cedar and redwood all need protection.

Three factors come into play when considering what finish to apply to a deck. Color is the first since it will be a powerful factor in the successful design of a deck. Durability and ease of application are also essential. Thirdly, the type of deck wood plays an important part. Treated wood generally requires staining or painting to achieve the best results while a clear finish allows the natural colors of cedar and redwood to show through.

Clear sealers protect the wood from water damage. Those with additives that resist mildew formation, insects and fungi growth are best. UV blockers help reduce damage caused by the ultraviolet rays of the sun. Sealers with pigments offer the same protection but change the wood color slightly. Sealers can be applied under or over stains and under primer and paint.

Deck stains, unlike sealers, are formulated primarily to alter the appearance of the wood. Semitransparent stains allow more of the wood grain to show through but wear more quickly. Heavier bodied deck stains contain more of the pigment and hide more of the wood grain.

Paints more easily conceal defects, can last for greater periods of time and can look aesthetically pleasing in certain designs. Exterior alkyds are more expensive, more difficult to clean up and are slower to dry. They do wear well over time. Latex paints are a less expensive alternative, clean up easily, dry quickly but do not wear well on deck surfaces.

Some so-called experts will tell you that a deck should dry out for months or even a year before a finish should be applied. This is not a wise course of action. The most important coat of finish a deck will receive is the very first one. A new deck built with pressure treated lumber should be allowed to dry out for two to four weeks depending upon weather conditions. Untreated lumber should be finished as soon as it is dry to the touch. Waiting any longer will lead to the wood beginning to degrade.

Before applying any deck stain or sealer or paint, you should take the two steps necessary to see how the finish will look. First test the final color or finish in an out-of-the-way spot on the deck or on a scrap piece of deck wood. Secondly, allow the finish to completely dry to ensure that the finish is the desired result you want. Stains generally dry lighter while paints end up looking darker.

The rule of thumb in the world of deck stains, sealers and paints is:”You get what you pay for.” The better, more expensive finishes contain solvents, repellents, preservatives and pigments. They tend to last longer than the less expensive products. They will cost more per application because the deck will soak up more. However, in the long run they will save time and money because they will need to be applied less often.

So consider taking the time to apply a good quality finish to that newly completed deck and protect your investment.

Richard Vande Sompel is a professional deck builder and is the author of “How to Plan, Design and Build a Deck from
Start to Finish”. To Learn More About A Proper
Deck Finish and Claim your 2
FREE Deck Plans, Insider Report, MP3 Audio and discover everything to know about
building a deck visit:

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