How to Seal a Deck – Follow These 8 Dos and Don’ts

Having a nice backyard deck is great for socializing and relaxing outdoors, but it needs ongoing care, especially if it is a wood deck. Composite decking doesn’t need the care that a wood one does, so learning how to seal a deck made of wood is important. learn how to seal a deck – follow these 8 dos and don’ts.

The elements of sun, rain, snow, and temperatures that fluctuate are all going to affect the lifespan of the wood, so the deck needs protection if you want it to last for years.

Sealing a deck isn’t difficult, but there are some dos and don’ts when it comes to sealing it. If you follow these tips, then the job will be done right and look great.

8 Dos and Don’ts

  1. DO wait one month before sealing a new deck. While you will be excited to get entertaining in your new patio area, you have to wait. Preservatives in the wood will need about a month or 30 days to sit before they can absorb the sealant. Wait 30 days and then spray the entire deck with water. If it’s beading, then the wood isn’t ready to seal, but if not, then you can get out your sealing equipment.

Timing is important, as while you don’t want to seal too early, you can’t wait too long. If the deck is exposed to the elements and ultraviolet (UV) light without protection, you can end up with damage.

2. DON’T mix up what paint, stain, and sealant are. They each function differently

    1. Sealants – Deck sealants are mainly used to stop moisture damage on wood. They have built-in protection that will stop the damage from mildew and damp elements. They have a thicker viscosity compared to stains and have no coloring. Because they have no pigment, they generally offer reduced UV protection when compared to a deck stain.
    2. Stains – A decking stain product will always have some type of color. This is done for aesthetic purposes, but also to help stop UV damage. The main problem with stains is they only offer moderate degrees of protection against moisture.
    3. Paint – Whether you choose latex or oil-based, it will protect against moisture issues and UV damage, as well as offering a wide range of colors for patios. The downfall is that it will not last as long as deck sealer or stain. The second issue is that if the deck boards hold any moisture, the paint may bubble or chip.

The good thing about your options is that there is a combined stain-and-sealant product that will give you strong protection against moisture and UV rays and have fewer drawbacks than a product with a singular focus. The other option is to brush on a plain stain, wait its dry time, and then add a sealant for extra protection.

3. DO Fix, wash, and sand the deck surface before you seal it. The deck needs to be prepped properly for staining to happen. Repair the loose or broken boards and hammer in any loose nails. Pressure wash the deck or use a good scrub brush so there is no dirt or debris on it. Once that is done, then the deck sits for 24 hours. Don’t rush to do the wash and stain on the same day. Once the deck is washed then sand it with sandpaper that is between 60-150 grit. You want to remove that top layer of wood that could be a barrier to absorbing the product you are trying to apply.

If the deck was stained before, make sure you sand all of it because any old moisture preventing product that was on previously, can stop the new sealant from going on properly. You want clean, bare decking boards. When all this is done, sweep and vacuum completely.

4. DON’T seal a deck when the weather is damp or cold. If you put the seal on your deck at a time of day when it is damp or if the temperatures allow frost, it is not going to work properly. You want to apply it when you are in a desirable temperature range.

When temperatures are too outside of normal, then the stain will be blotchy. It may also bead and not absorb into the decking surface. Always let the deck dry at least 24 hours after rain so the decking treatment can be applied properly with a quality outcome.

a woodennn deck

5. DO use the right tools and technique when sealing a deck. You have the options of using a roller brush, paint brush, or a paint sprayer if you have access to one. Make sure to have a pole if you are using a roller and kneepads if you are using a brush as you will be down on your knees.

Make sure the whole deck has enough sealant on it, but not too thick. Too much sealing will lead to peeling and chipping, so just do one even coat at a time. Wait at least 24 hours as your critical recoat time.

6. DON’T disregard the temperature. While you don’t want it to be damp or cold, neither do you want the burning heat of the sun. If you are working on the deck in the afternoon, extreme heat can cause the sealant to evaporate, especially if it is a water-based product or solvent-based product.

Both tend to evaporate fairly quickly in warm weather, so hot temperatures are going to speed that up. Choose a day that is comfortable and not very windy.

7. DO apply sealant annually. This rule is generalized, as the climate and age of the deck will play into how often it needs to be done. If you are living in a sunny area, then make sure to stick to a once-a-year schedule so you are protecting it from water damage, elemental impact, and UV rays.

If you are farther north, then you may be able to hold to a two-to-three-year schedule unless it’s a high snow area, then you need to watch for excess moisture damage from melting ice and snow.

8. DON’T use the deck for 48 hours after sealing it. This timeline will work for all types of wood no matter how fast or slow they dry. Waiting the 48 hours means you are safe from causing any damage with a wet or damp deck.

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