|Deck Staining is Easy and Economical|
“Sales of stain go through the roof around Memorial Day, as people scramble to get their decks in shape,” said Debbie Zimmer, spokesperson for the Paint Quality Institute. “Fortunately, staining a deck is an inexpensive and relatively simple project that virtually anyone can do in a weekend.”
Assuming that your deck doesn’t need repairs, the first step is to remove any loose paint or stain that may be present. This can be done in one of two ways: either by scraping and sanding, or by treating the surface with a commercial deck conditioner followed by careful power washing with plain water.
The prep work can be even easier if the deck has no loose paint or stain. Just clean the surface with one of the many deck-cleaning products on the market.
To save money, you can make a cleaning solution by mixing a cup of household bleach and a splash of soap with a gallon of warm water. After scrubbing the surface clean, rinse it very thoroughly using a garden hose, making sure not to splash the bleach onto plants, animals, bare skin and fabrics that might fade with contact.
If after cleaning you still have areas with stubborn mildew, apply a solution of three parts water to one part bleach. Allow the solution to sit on the affected surface for 20 minutes, then scrub off the mildew and rinse the surface clean.
Once the surface preparation is complete, it’s time to decide on the stain you will use. Deck stains come in both solvent-based and water-based formulations. Water-based products are probably the favorite option for most DIYers, since the formulations currently on the market have resistance to weathering, dry quickly, are relatively odor-free and clean up with plain soap and water.
Choosing the Finish
There are a few types of stains in the pigmented category. Semi-transparent coatings help protect the wood without hiding its grain or texture, while solid-color stains show texture but not the grain. The former need to be reapplied every 12 to 18 months, but solid-color stains can last three to five years. So if you want to stretch out your application cycle, go with a solid-color finish.
In addition to semi-transparent and solid-color stains, there are also toners (more transparent than semi-transparent stains) and semi-solids (in between semi-transparent and solid colors).
However, “Whatever type of stain you use on your deck, you should always, always use a top-quality product there,” said Zimmer. “Consider the stress that a deck is exposed to: not only is there standing water, and snow and ice in many parts of the country, but decks are subjected to foot traffic, abrasion from patio furniture and direct sun. You need a great coating to stand up to that abuse.”
Top-quality 100-percent acrylic latex stains are perhaps the best option when restoring a deck, she added. They’re tough and durable, and many of these stains contain extra ingredients to help prevent mildew.
Deck stains can be applied with spray equipment, a long-handled roller or brush. However, spray or roller application should be followed by “back brushing” (going back in and brushing the stain while it’s still wet so that it better penetrates the wood).
Whatever type of stain you use, it’s best to get the project started soon. Remember, company is on the way!
About the Paint Quality Institute (SM)