Let's Talk About Decks, Porches, and Front Stairs
It is that time of year...early Spring with thoughts of enjoying long warm days outside, and ending your day with a grilled steak and cold beer on your beautiful deck. The problem is that when you look outside your back window that deck is far from beautiful. Although structural sound, the last time it was cleaned or stained was well over a decade ago. Before you decide to do anything to the deck, take a quick glance at this blog which will hopefully help you moving forward.
Decks Take a Beating
It is important to realize that decks take a pounding. In the Winter they are bombarded with snow, ice and sleet. It the Summer they are in constant sun, or shade which can encourage mold and mildew. And, they are constantly walked on, and have furniture dragged across them in the warmer months. The reason for pointing this all out is that unlike the rest of the exterior of your home, whatever you put on a deck it will not last as long as the paint or stain on the rest or your home. For the horizontals (the stuff you walk on), you can expect to have to stain every couple of years, if you want to protect the wood and keep it looking good.
There is no Quick Fix
A lot of companies such as Behr and Rustoleum are selling products that you just roll or brush on your deck without and prep and it will restore the beauty to you once ugly deck. These products are nothing more than thick paint and they do not work. Go online, not to the website of the company that sells the product, and read the results. I am often find online reviews very dubious, but in this case they are right on. I have seen failures of this stuff many times. And, once they fail you have not only wasted your time money, it is now going to be more difficult to do the job correctly due to the need to remove the "quick fix" before a real stain is applied.
Preparation is Key
If the deck has grey wood it needs to be removed. This can be done with sanding or with chemicals. If it is big deck I recommend chemicals. It will also need to be cleaned. Some products will remove grey wood and clean. You will also need to neutralize the chemicals that remove the grey wood.
Choose the Correct Stain
No matter what stain company you decide to go with there a few things you should consider. Solid stains should not be used on the deck (the part that you will walk on and drag furniture across). Solid stains are only made in acrylic and they do not penetrate into the wood as non-solid stains do. Therefore they will begin to wear soon after they are applied. Go with a semi-solid, semi-transparent or transparent stain on the deck. If you really do want the solid stain look on the deck, you can do something called a wet coat with the a semi-solid. This requires the second coat to be applied before the first coat is dry. Therefore you have a coat of stain that has penetrated the wood, but looks like a solid. Although there are many good acrylic stains, I still prefer oil over acrylic. I think that they just last longer.
The Key is Maintenance
Once you spend the time or money (or both) getting your deck to look nice, the key is to not let it deteriorate to a level that it will once again need grey wood removed. Cleaning and applying a fresh coat is much easier and cheaper than a total redo.