It’s November and you’ve just been told by your Mum that it’s your turn to host Christmas day. So many things to do and prepare; the windows need cleaning, the garden needs tidying up, the barbecue needs servicing, and the deck….. Ah it’s been too long since you’ve even looked at the condition of the deck! Oh dear.

Well we can’t have Aunt Janice commenting on how awful the deck looks – so in this article we are going to talk about how to have your deck looking in top shape for Christmas, and beyond.

Preparation is key

Preparation is key in achieving amazing results. All wood needs to be well cleaned before staining, whether it’s a brand-new deck or an older deck that’s been out in the weather and needs to be re-stained. On an older deck; dirt, graying from the sun, mould/mildew, and old stains all need to be removed prior to re-staining. Sodium percarbonate wood cleaners, also known as oxygen bleach wood cleaners, are a good choice for this step. They are highly effective at cleaning the wood while being green and pet-friendly.

A build up of old stains on the deck adds a little challenge, though does not make the job impossible. Instead of a sodium percarbonate cleaner you may need to use a stain stripper. Strippers are more caustic so be careful and follow the directions carefully. They work great and will remove most weathered stains in one easy application. Lastly, if there are small spots of stain that won’t come off during the cleaning process, a palm-type sander should remove them easily after the deck has dried. If those spots of stain are left on the deck, they will show through the new finish and affect the deck’s final appearance. Some stain manufacturers offer a free instructional video to help walk you through this entire process. They’re a wonderful tool to use to ensure that you do the job right the first time.

Lastly remember all types of chemicals used in the cleaning process need to be rinsed of well after use. If left in the wood they can resurface over time and affect the new stain. Once deck is cleaned, rinse thoroughly to remove all chemicals out of the wood.

Consider a Wood Brightener

Within your process of re-staining your deck, consider this process. Wood brighteners are so easy to apply and will have a dramatic effect on the final results. The way a wood brightener works is, they open up the surface of the wood to improve penetration, neutralize any stain strippers that were used, and restore the presentation of old and weathered wood to look like new again. To use them, simply spray them on, wait a few minutes, and rinse them off.

Use quality products and always follow directions

Always make sure the deck is completely dry after cleaning before you get ready to stain. When looking for a stain always choose quality products, and keep in mind better ingredients will cost more money. If you want top results, then you’ll need to buy a premium product. Quality differs when it comes to resins, pigments, mildewcides, and many other materials that make up a wood stain. So stay away from the cheap stuff if you want a lasting result.

Always carefully read the directions on the can as every product is a little different. It only takes a few minutes and it will ensure that you have all of the right instructions before you get started. Pay attention to how many coats of stain to apply, how long to wait between coats, how long to wait after cleaning, and how long to allow wood to weather. Read the instructions first and you’re likely to get it right the first time.

Decks are best stained with a semi-transparent wood stain that allow the natural grain of the wood to show through. They also allow the wood to naturally breathe, and are easily cleaned and reapplied. Take a careful look at the directions and don’t over apply these types of products. If too thick a finish, it will most likely peel off over time and this does not allow the wood to breath. Only ever apply as much stain as the wood can easily absorb.

Use a trusty Paintbrush

Deck stains can be applied in several different ways. Using a pump-up garden sprayer and roller are two popular methods. Regardless of how you apply your wood stain, keep a paint brush at hand. A paint brush will work the stain deep into the pores of a board. The agitation and friction caused by a paint brush will cause the wood to absorb more stain. So if you are spraying or rolling the stain, always back-brush it in with a brush while the stain is still wet; you’ll achieve much better penetration into the wood.

Last tips

  • Let your deck dry out really well for at least 24 hours before walking on it and putting outdoor furniture back in place.
  • Wash your deck regularly – Just as you would wash your car. It’s worth it to keep leaves and dirt from damaging the finish, a little maintenance goes a long way.
  • If the deck shows signs of losing it’s colour – add a little wood brightener and a light coat of stain.

So there you go, Christmas is coming and so is Aunt Janice – So go visit your hardware store and get your deck prepped for the holidays this weekend.