Spring has finally arrived! Now that the warm temperatures are here to stay, it’s time to transform your yard.
Fences and decks are major investments and regular maintenance is essential. Without proper care, boards can warp and crack, or suffer damage from mold, causing them to rot. Moisture is the enemy of natural wood and it can affect the structural integrity of your deck, fence, or outdoor furniture. Thankfully, with some up-front work, you can prevent a finishing disaster and keep your deck or fence looking great for years to come.
Here are 5 easy steps for finishing your deck or fence so that you can sit back, relax and enjoy the sunshine this spring.
1. Clean Up the Area
To successfully stain a deck, the wood must be completely dry and clear of debris. Once the snow has melted, rake up any leaves and debris that accumulated during the winter. If you have access to a leaf blower, this can help you to access the hard-to-reach places. Give the wood a good sweep and make sure that plants are covered with a drop cloth. Strong cleaners can damage plants.
If you’re painting a deck or fence that are in contact with exterior walls, use painter’s tape to protect the walls. You can also add a drop cloth to the area of the deck you plan on staining last. This can be used as a work station to house supplies as you complete the job.
2. Clean the Wood
Wearing rubber gloves and safety goggles, use a store-bought cleaner to clean the wood. If the deck is very dirty or moldy you can use cleaner and follow the manufacturers’ specs.
Before washing, test out the product by cleaning a small area to start. If no adverse reaction occurs, begin washing the whole surface.
Using a stiff brush, work the cleaner into the wood. Once finished, rinse the deck with water. Be sure to also rinse any plants that may have been contaminated by the cleaner as it could cause them to burn.
When it comes to cleaning, a power washer can save you a lot of time. If you do have access to one, avoid turning the pressure up too high or you’ll risk damaging the boards with the intensity of the spray. Using a fan setting rather than pinpoint spray can help dig into the wood and force excess water into the fibres.
3. Choose a Stain to Protect Your Deck
Now it’s time to apply the finish! Be sure to space out cleaning and finishing by at least a couple of days so that the wood can dry fully before finishing. You should also make sure there’s no rain in the forecast and that it won’t be too warm. Heat can cause the finish to dry too quickly, resulting in marks.
Determine a starting and stopping point so that you’re not stranded in a corner of the deck while the stain dries. There are many finishing options ranging in price and colour and each will affect the appearance of the wood differently. Be sure to do some research before starting. Generally, a higher pigment helps to protect the wood from UV rays, but it can hide the natural grain of the wood.
Apply the finish with a brush or sprayer. The most popular options are brushes or stain pads, but a paint brush could come in handy for hard-to-reach places. It’s also beneficial to use a brush to back-brush the stain after using a roller or sprayer to apply. The paint brush allows the wood to absorb more stain.
Brush 2-3 boards at the same time, from one end to the other in long, smooth strokes. More stain is not better. Over-applying stain can cause it to peel or crack when exposed to moisture.
Most stain applications will be a one coat system, unless the product specifications require two. Just be sure to wait at least 4 hours between coats and allow for at least 24 hours of drying time.
5. Prepare for Guests
Now that your deck or fence are looking good as new, take the opportunity to enjoy them! Invite family and friends over for a barbeque or pool day. Just be sure that the wood has dried completely before subjecting it to guests and furniture.
Of course, if finishing your fence or deck seems like a daunting task, we offer repairs of decks, fences, stairs and staircases, railings, and wood siding. Contact us today for a free quote!