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Staining is an important final step for your new wood deck. Wood decks, fences and siding are exposed to high levels of stress from the severe weather conditions that shrink and swell the wood. Without proper maintenance, wood decks can develop problems such as checks and cracks, raised grain, and mildew, thus increasing the risk of decay and insect attack.
Applying stains, sealers and other finishes to wood will minimize the problems of cracking, raised grain, and mildew growth. There are 3 primary types of useful sealants and they differ in how they work, some are labeled as water repellents (WR) and others as water repellent preservatives (WRP). The only difference between a water repellent (WR) and a water repellent preservative (WRP) is the addition of a mildewcide or preservative to the formulation.
Also referred to as "penetrating sealers" are the "perfect" finishes. Their open quality is critically important to the long-term preservation of wood, as it allows the escape of moisture which may have entered from the underside of shakes, decking, siding, etc. - it allows the wood to "breathe" with just enough film on the surface to prevent dire and other contaminants to penetrate. The best are acrylic blends. Water base, easy to apply and cleanup. #1 choice. This is the only type of staining we recommend!
A major source of problems and complaints for all wood finishes is over-application of staining. Many do-it-yourselfers and some painting contractors believe that when it comes to coating, more is better. This is simply not the case and is particularly a problem for decks. Most deck finishes are designed to penetrate the surface of the wood. Putting too much of these coatings on the wood leads to a buildup of material, forming a film which can ultimately peel or crack. For water repellent products, over-application can result in a surface which is overly waxy, sticky, or slick. Over-applied stains will often result in sticky surfaces, since the coating buildup interferes with their ability to dry properly.
Proper surface preparation is an important factor in the ultimate performance of coatings for pressure-treated wood or any wood surface. Surfaces should be clean, dry, and free of mildew before coatings are applied.
Clear Coatings can be applied by a variety of methods including brush, spray, roller and pad. Brushing is considered to be the best technique for detail work such as spindles and railings. However, for large horizontal deck surfaces, spray application is quickest and easiest. Either airless power sprayers or pump hand-held sprayers can be used. It is important when spray applying finishes to back brush or back roll the wet coating. This evens out the finish and eliminates drips and lap marks. Pads are also well suited to coat decks. Individual boards should be coated along their entire length to prevent lap marking. Paint rollers are more suitable for applying siding finishes than for deck coatings. However, they can be used successfully to apply clear finishes and water repellents to decks. As for most exterior coatings, it is vital that deck finishes be applied under proper weather conditions. Solvent borne coatings are a bit more forgiving than water-based formulations and can usually be applied when outside temperatures are in the range of 40-90°F. Water-based products should not usually be applied if outside temperatures will fall below 50°F within 24 hours after application. Deck coatings ideally should not be applied if precipitation is forecast for the 12-24 hour period after coating. This will prevent the possibility of water spotting or wash-off. Once they dry, of course, these finishes will be resistant to precipitation.
Since each commercial formulation is a little different, the manufacturers label instructions should be consulted and understood before the product is used. This is important not only from an application and performance standpoint but also with regard to user safety and environmental considerations. Unfortunately, many consumers fail to read the product label until after they experience a problem, at which point it may be too late for easy corrective action. Wear Proper Clothes: To protect against skin irritation, a long-sleeved shirt, long pants and goggles. Also use an OSHA approved mask to protect against inhalation of vapors if using solvent based products. Follow all manufacturers’ instructions!
Finally cover any and all plants and structures that may get splashed or come in contact with the materials you are using
Care and Maintenance:
Stained wood surfaces may need to be retreated every 2-3 years or earlier depending on weather exposure and a close inspection of treated surfaces should be done annually.
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