Regular Maintenance Is the Key to Deck Longevity
Even though pressure-treated lumber resists insects and decay, it's still vulnerable to moisture and the sun's rays. To keep it looking new and lasting longer, regular maintenance is key.
- If your deck is older and looking a little gray, use a deck cleaner to freshen it up. Just follow the directions to get the deck back into shape and ready to be either stained or preserved.
- If your deck is newer, it's just waiting for some stain or preservative. Some people believe that a deck should sit for a while before it's treated, but Matt Fox believes that bare wood exposed to the elements for a long time will break down and get dirty. He recommends either staining and preserving or just adding a preservative if you don't want to change the deck's color.
- A clear wood preservative contains a UV protector, which will bring new life to the surface while protecting it from the elements. Clear wood preservatives provide a clear finish and don't add any color to the deck.
- If you do want to add color, use an exterior stain first. Exterior stains come in both a solid and semi-transparent finish. Always use the semi-transparent for the decking area, but try a solid color if you want to highlight railings or banisters. The solid color is just that — it ends up looking like a painted finish. Exterior stains are available in oil or latex and they both provide fade and mildew resistance.
- To apply a preservative or stain, make sure the surface is clean and dry and wear protective eyewear and gloves. Whether it's stain or just preservative, apply the product with a roller or a brush. Let the product sit on the wood decking for about 20 minutes so that it has time to really penetrate. Go back over the surface with a brush to give the deck a more consistent finish (this also helps get rid of any puddles that will dry as shiny patches). Always apply a second coat for good coverage and protection. Allow the deck to dry a couple days before walking on it or adding any furniture.