I’ve been staining decks for more years than I want to admit. I remember when there were only just a handful of deck sealing products on the market. There were no stains to color your deck and there were no UV (ultra-violet) products available. There was only clear and semi-transparent products to choose from. I was there when the Environmental Protection Agency made all the companies that develop stains to reformulate their products so they would be environmentally friendly. The trade off for having environmentally safe products is they don’t last as long as the old products.
So now you have safer products but you have to stain and seal your deck more often which will cost you more. The very first question I get from someone is how long will my stain last. That’s a great question but it has a lot of variables.
You have to consider if you want your deck to look natural,which is a clear or semi-transparent product or if you want to colorize your deck by covering the wood with a stain that has color.
Here is were the problems begin when choosing a natural look or should I colorize my deck. First where is my deck located on my home in relation to the sun. If you have a deck that gets sun all day and it faces south or southwest and you want to use a dark color stain,guess what,you just turn your deck into a solar collector.
Have you ever got into your car on a hot summer day and said OUCH. That is the same with your deck when you put a dark color stain on it when it has a southern exposure. It’s not uncommon for a deck to reach 140 degrees temperature in the summer. Next I hear,but if I can’t use a solid color stain and I use a semi-transparent stain it won’t last as long because the ultra-violet light rays from the sun will will cause it to break it down. Yes that’s true but at least you can enjoy your deck during the day time.
What if I use a lighter color stain on the south side,O.K. that’s fine but do you have pets or children that track mud. Look I’m giving you options to think about before you decide because I have (just about) seen it all. There is a lot to consider when you stain a deck.
Even if you are using a light stain on top of a dark stain. Sometimes (not always) the dark stain will show through the lighter color stain. To correct this just applied a second coat or better yet do a small test in a area that is not so conspicuous location to see what you are trying to achieve will work in the first place.
Important note for people who are do not know how to use a semi-solid stain product. A semi-solid stain when applied will still show the grain of the wood,you can see through the stain slightly. Some people choose a semi-solid when they meant to ask for or use a solid product which is totally opaque,you can’t see through it at all. Don’t ask someone you hire to use a semi-solid stain and say you did not like it after it was applied. Oh, by the way I wanted a solid stain to hide everything. If you do change your mind expect to pay twice for the job,because that’s what you are getting is a second stain job
Even deciding on the proper color is a big under taking, pick up a couple home and garden magazines and/or drive around your neighborhood and see what you like. This will eliminate a lot of pain by planning ahead of time.
Please consider the following. Think twice about using the bold colors,something that doesn’t look natural or just stands out and shouts at you. Do not stain your deck all the same color by this I mean stain you should stain your floor boards different from you pickets or railings. The prefer color for pickets is white and your line of vision is straight and not at your feet and you will get this nice clean look of white pickets.
This is why people like homeowner associations today,its because some people are color blind or just don’t know how to choose colors. They throw a color color on their deck and there goes the neighborhood. Try to make your stain project blend in with your neighborhood. You will maintain home values and get a much quicker sale on your property if you do decide to sell your property.
In the next article I’ll cover when and how to use clear deck sealers.