You have done that one thing you have always dreamed of…. You built your dream timber deck! Now, are you one of the millions of people who have answered about your deck’s care, but have not found that right answer just yet? Well, in this article we took most of the frequent questions asked from deck owners and answered them all in the details you have searched for.
Q: How often should I treat my timber deck?
Whether your deck is oil-based or water-based, stains will not last long on horizontal surfaces. This is due to weather elements like sunlight, snow, ice, and rain. Deck wear is most commonly caused by the sun’s ultraviolet rays that deteriorates the stained surface. So if your timber deck sits in nearly full sun, the horizontal surface will fade more quickly than that of a timber deck that is constant in the shade or a surface that is vertical.
Most professionals recommend that you restain a horizontal surface every two to three years. With that said, you should properly prepare, clean and dry the surface of your deck before applying a stain. This will yield the best results for the stain to last at least that long.
Q: How do I maintain my timber deck after staining?
The most important rule that you have to remember is that you need to do regular checks on your deck. A few ricks that you can do to ensure that your deck lasts longer is:
- Keep it clear – Sweep your deck regularly of leaves, snow, and debris
- Keep it clean – Hose your deck at least 1 or 2 times per year and use a brush if needed. You don’t need to pressure clean the surface
- Keep substrate clear and cut away from your deck – This includes brushes, trees, and vines.
You also need to check your deck for wear and tear, especially along the top rails and in high-traffic sections of your deck. The things you need to look out for are like the following:
- Soft spots
- Cracks in the boards
- Loose fasteners and boards
- Fungus / Dry Rot
Q: What is the best way to protect a timber deck?
If you think about it this way, a timber deck takes a lot of abuse. They get a lot of foot traffic. Because their horizontal surfaces are constantly exposed to sunlight and allow rain to pool on the surface, they are more vulnerable to weather than any other type of timber structure. That pooled moisture, in turn, attracts pollen and fungal spores, which can discolor the wood. To protect your timber deck, you can easily follow these 10 preventive measures:
Don’t trap dirt :
If you have flower planters on your deck, place them on top of cement blocks to prevent the planters from trapping dirt or moisture on the deck’s surface.
Catch that grease
If you have your “braaier” on your deck, always use a grease catcher. Grease stains are typically some of the most difficult to remove.
Sweep it up
Sweep your deck on a regular basis to prevent accumulations of dirt or leaves that can stain the deck surface.
Shovel it off
When there is snowfall, shovel the snow off your deck as soon as possible.
Clean and seal regularly
Have your deck professionally cleaned and sealed at least every 2 to 3 years to protect it against the rain and sun. If you opt to do it yourself, you’ll probably need to clean and seal the deck at least once a year, so in the long run, professional work pays for itself.
Take special steps for a new deck
If your deck is new, have it professionally cleaned to kill any mildew spores in the wood and to remove any surface impurities that may prevent deck sealing products from penetrating. Then have it sealed with a waterproof sealer. But be sure to wait at least 60 days after a timber deck is built to have it cleaned and stained; the wood has to “age” first.
No matter the age, always make sure your deck is sealed
Seal your deck to protect it against moisture from rain and dew, which will cause the wood to swell. Sealing the deck will also protect it against the sun (which can shrink and dry the wood). The alternating cycles of expanding and shrinking will cause the wood to warp, cup, crack and gray.
Even pressure-treated wood needs to be sealed
Pressure-treated wood alone does nothing to protect your deck against weather. In fact, pressure-treated wood without sealant applied is even more porous and vulnerable to the weather.
Don’t apply paint or solid stains
Avoid painting or staining your deck with a solid stain because these finishes eventually peel and require a significant amount of maintenance. Oil-based stains are usually the best because they protect your deck and fade gradually and naturally.
Make repairs as soon as possible
Replace any rotten boards as needed to avoid having to replace the whole deck. Regular maintenance should also include tightening loose boards or railings.
Q: Do I have to seal my timber deck after pressure washing?
When you pressure wash your deck, saturate the deck with a deck detergent. Give it 15 minutes to work and then you begin with the power washing. Follow the operating instructions for your power washer.
After you have completed the deck power washing, you should wait for about 24 to 36 hours before you apply the sealer. If the weather is cool or humid, wait 48 to 72 hours. The deck must be thoroughly dry to ensure that the sealer penetrates deep into the wood.
Q: Do I need to sand my timber deck after pressure washing it?
After a good power washing, the wood fibers of the various components of the timber deck will often raise as they expand with water. Once dry, these wood fibers can often remain raised and this will lead to splinters being formed. Because of this reason, you should plan on sanding your timber deck after a power washing and before you start to stain and seal your deck.
This step will ensure that your refinishing job gives the best results. Just remember, woods used to make decks are typically soft-wood species that can be gouged if you use power tools or sandpapers with a very rough grit. Belt sanders, whether it is hand-held models or large uprights tend to gouge softwoods, so oscillating or orbital sanders often do a better job.
You also need to make sure to wear a particle mask and safety glasses while sanding, as wood dust poses health risks if you breathe it in. Knee pads and hearing protectors are recommended and will also make your job safer and more comfortable.
Q: Is it better to seal or stain my deck?
This one really just depends all on you. Just staining the timber deck will give you that color that you want, although in high-traffic areas the stain could wear away quickly. Many deck companies recommend that you use a combination of stain/sealer products, which is basically a sealer with pigment added.
The advantage of this is the sealer provides additional protection against water and weather damage, while the stain helps reduce the timber deck from fading because of the UV Rays.
Q: What happens if it rains on a freshly stained deck?
Any deck stains differ from paint in a major way. Stains soak into the bare wood’s pores to become a part of the top layers of wood, while paint simply sits on top of the wood. Because the stain becomes a part of the wood, the stain will last for a long time if you apply it properly. This means applying the stain on a day when rain is not forecast for at least 48 hours. Rain on a newly stained deck can ruin it.
Q: Can a deck get wet after sanding?
When your timber deck gets wet after you have sanded it, it is back to square one! You then need to wash it again and sand it again. The best advice then is to sand and treat your deck when you now the weather will not provide any rain.
We really hope these questions and answers have helped to give you the clarity you have been searching for. So take care of your timber deck, it is the masterpiece of art to your home.