Posts Tagged ‘Exterior Stain’

Spring Deck Prep

Spring has sprung, time to fire up the BBQ, get the lawn chairs out and…

Easy there, not so fast…

With a bit of time spent now, you will be able to enjoy your deck for years, and be proud of it as well.

Our winters here in southern Alberta tend to be harsh, with 2 feet of snow piling up, than Chinooks coming along and melting all the snow and the cycle repeats itself over and over.

These freeze thaw cycles take their tolls on our decks but with the right maintenance routine it can be kept in check.

What I like to do with my deck every spring has been the same routine for years now…

First off, remove all planters, furniture, BBQ equipment etc. With the deck completely cleared I do an initial quick sweeping and removal of any leaves and dirt that has blown onto it over the winter months. After this initial cleaning, I examine the deck thoroughly for surface wear, cracked or cupped boards, and loose screws or nail pops are taken care of. This step is vital in assessing and solving any problems well before the deck gets put back into use.

After all repairs are made, it’s time to give it a thorough cleaning. Right before cleaning, be sure to heavily water any nearby plants, and use plenty of drop clothes and poly to protect any nearby surfaces or plants. Ever wonder what three of the greatest causes of exterior deck coating failures are? In my opinion I place the blame squarely upon Dirt, Weathering, and Mill-Glaze. Fortunately with proper preparation you can take care of all of these problems. For new, weathered or unfinished wood decks there are several commercially available products for cleaning decks that all work well, however one basic solution I like to use is, 4 ounces of TSP, 1 Quart of household bleach, and 3 quarts of water. This solution when applied to the wood and kept wet for 15-20 minutes with a good scrubbing from a synthetic bristle brush is great at removing all the dirt, mildew spores and dead wood cells. Basic safety precautions should always be followed, be sure to follow all manufactures recommendations and warnings. Thoroughly rinse, ideally with a pressure washer, be sure to keep the nozzle at least 12 inches from the surface to avoid damaging the wood.

Once the deck has been washed and allowed a couple of days to dry, this is a good time to do another inspection. Depending on what type of finish you are intending on using, you can do the following tests; if it is a penetrating stain or finish, flick water onto the boards, if the water beads up, you know you will have to sand it. If water can’t absorb into the boards, I can guarantee you that stain will not absorb. You see, most transparent and translucent stains are like lotions for the wood, they need to soak in and they become what we often call sacrificial coatings, they simply wear by erosion and you never get peeling or flaking, it simply fades away. The key thing to remember with transparent or translucent stains, is that they will allow you to be able to see thru them to what is underneath, so if there is any remnants of previous coatings or dark stains on the wood you will be able to see them. If this is a concern you can either choose a darker stain to try and hide it or go to a solid stain. If you are using a solid stain, which is a great product to use if the boards are fairly worn and discoloured, it is important to remember that no matter what product anyone sells you it is going to stick to what is there and if what is there isn’t peeling and flaking and it isn’t firmly attached than it is simply going to come off as well. All loose peeling and flaking existing coatings have to be removed. If the previous coating is firmly attached than it won’t be as much of a concern. If the deck is dirty or the dust from sanding isn’t removed than the coating sticks to the dirt and dust and it will peel as well.

Sanding of the deck is almost always the recomended choice of prepping the deck for a new stain. As a general guideline vertical surfaces should be sanded with 80-120 grit, and horizontal surfaces should be sanded with 60-80 grit. ALWAYS sand in direction of the wood grain.

Getting the right products, and right tools for your project is easy when you deal with your local, independent paint store!

Above all and most importantly… Be sure to follow all recomendations and precautions on the label of whichever product you choose to use!