Connecting with Mother Nature while enjoying outdoor living on your deck is simply one of life’s great pleasures; but when it comes to maintaining the attractiveness of your deck, you have a formidable foe: Mother Nature herself. Rain and sun alternately expand and contract the decking material, which can play havoc with any coating that has been applied.
During winter, snow and ice create a state of continuous moisture – until you appear with shovel in hand and almost certainly scratch the surface of the deck while clearing the offenders. Elevation can also have a big impact on how well your deck ages. Decks that sit on or very close to soil can experience a wicking effect, whereby moisture in the soil is drawn up right through the wood as sunshine beats on the deck surface.
Indeed, it doesn’t take long for these natural elements to rob your deck of its original beauty. In fact, according to Dave Chillemi, Vice President of Commercial Services for CertaPro Painters® in Westchester, NY, it’s very unusual for horizontal deck surfaces – the decking material underfoot, the top of handrails and the treads – to hold their good looks for more than two years before needing careful attention. The degree of attention, of course, depends on how much damage has been done.
Surface preparation: The secret to long-lasting performance
How long a new coating will last is directly related to how well the deck surface is prepared. Without this upfront work, you simply won’t get the lasting good-looks you want.
There are three main methods of surface preparation:
- Pressure washing – Surfaces that are free from chipping or peeling paint may need little more than a good pressure washing with an appropriate cleaner to remove dirt and mildew prior to applying a new coating. Allowing the deck to thoroughly dry (about 48 hours), then checking for and sanding any loose wood fibers comes next. Finally, carefully removing any dust that has accumulated since the pressure washing is the last step before starting the staining or painting process!
- Chemical stripping – Environmentally safe chemical stripping is a good option if there is chipping, peeling, and a significant amount of old coating to remove. First, it’s best to apply the stripper, let it sit for the required amount of time, then pressure wash the surface and proceed as above.
- Mechanical stripping – Using a 3-head sanding machine often results in the best surface for applying new coatings that will last. Before using the sander to strip the surface down to bare wood, it’s important to countersink screws and nails on the surface to be sanded. This prevents the sanding machine from breaking the screws and nails or being broken by them. Once the surface is clear, clean and smooth, the new coating can be applied.
Now It Pays to be Skimpy
The science of paint and stain formulation is constantly evolving, with new products addressing important challenges faced by homeowners and painting professionals alike. “We spend a lot of time meeting with the technical support people of paint companies,” says Chillemi. “It’s interesting because there’s almost always something new – some new product or a product improvement – to answer our #1 question regarding decks: ‘What’s going to last longest?’”
Once the best product is selected for the job, an equally important question becomes how much to use? After all that prep work, the temptation is to apply several coats of stain or paint to make the renewed surface really last. Don’t do it, advises Chillemi. “Usually a single coat is best,” he says, “and never go above two.” On decks, product build-up results directly to product failure – in the form of cracking and peeling. “And in a relatively short period of time,” adds Chillemi.
The bottom line: Be informed, prepare the surface well, select and apply the best coating for your particular situation… and enjoy the beautiful deck appearance for seasons to come!
Free Exterior Color Consultation
A deck may be an extension of a home’s interior living space, but it’s also an integral part of a home’s exterior appearance. CertaPro Painters of Westchester offers customers free color consultation to ensure that each color selected – whether it’s for a concrete patio, outdoor furniture, decking, railings, or house trim – is part of a pleasing palette that defines one beautiful property.
Deck-saving Tip: Apply soft pads to the feet of all chairs, tables, grills – anything that is likely to be dragged across and scratch the surface of the deck. You can find these pads at most hardware and home improvements stores. And while you’re there, stock up! You’ll find that you need to replace these protective pads frequently, as much as a couple of times each season.
CertaPro recommends these products:
Semi-transparent deck stains
- Sherwin-Williams® DeckScapes® waterborne semi-transparent deck stain
- Benjamin Moore® Arborcoat® waterborne exterior semi transparent deck & siding stain
Solid deck stains
- Sherwin-Williams DeckScapes® acrylic solid color deck stain
- Benjamin Moore® Arborcoat® waterborne exterior solid color deck & siding stain
- Mad Dog Deck Fix Primer is recommended for use under solid acrylic deck stains when flaky spots have been sanded because of peeling of previous coats.
- H&C® concrete stains for concrete slabs and pool decks
Porch floor paint
- Sherwin Williams® Porch and Floor Enamel
Adding color to concrete surfaces … beautifully
Concrete patios and areas around a pool can take on an attractive new look with the application of stains specifically formulated for this durable material. Careful preparation is a must and usually includes grinding the surface of the concrete in preparation for applying the stain product. Current trends favor a more natural “variable” finished look rather than an expanse of uninterrupted solid color, but there are enough style options to please every design taste. Your local CertaPro professional can help you achieve precisely the look you want.