Clean, Stain and Seal a Wooden Deck in a Single Day
A Simple Way to Restore a Deck in a Few Hours
This post is in partnership with Thompson’s WaterSeal. All opinions are my own.
Rain, dirt and sunlight all take their toll on any wooden deck. Over time, things can get pretty ugly. Despite the fact that your deck may look like a goner, chances are, you can bring it back to life in just a few hours.
Set the Nail Heads
Wooden decks, especially those that may not have been kept well sealed, have a tendency to push nails upward as the wood repeatedly gets wet and then dries out. Protruding nail heads are not only unsightly, they can be painful to bare feet. Drive them slightly below the surface using a hammer and nail set to avoid denting the planks.
Power Wash Decking and Railings
Sometimes a good cleaning with warm water and a detergent can loosen built up grime that settles a deck’s surface. Usually, though, I find a power washer does a better job while also removing oxidized wood cells and old finishes. To avoid damaging the decking, I always hold the wand about eight to ten inches from the surface and keep it in constant motion.
Apply a Cleaner Brightener
Decks have a tendency to darken over time due to oxidation and exposure to ultraviolet sunlight. Also, it’s possible for fine dirt to get ground into the wood grain. This problem can be remedied with a cleaner brightener formulated specifically for decks. I like to apply the solution with a garden sprayer, scrub it a bit with a long-handled brush, and then rinse with a garden hose
Spot Sand If Necessary
If a deck has been previously finished with an opaque stain, even power washing and cleaning/brightening may leave a few stubborn spots of old finish. An orbital or vibrating sander with 80 grit paper will usually make a big improvement.
Apply a Combination Stain/Sealer
Modern materials like the combination stain/sealer I used in this project, stain and seal in a single step. These products can be applied to a damp surface which means there’s no need to wait for the deck to dry after cleaning and brightening. My favorite tool for putting down this material is a staining pad attached to a long handle.
Let Dry and Enjoy
Dry time for a newly stained and sealed deck depends on the temperature and humidity, but it can be as little as two hours. A deck that’s properly cleaned, stained and sealed will not only look great, it will actually last longer and stand up to the rigors of sun, weather and foot traffic.
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