Few home projects are as groan-inducing as refinishing and staining a deck. The patience-testing venture often involves several steps, many hours stretched over a handful of days outside and more. But it’s the best way to make sure wooden decks stand up to the elements, meaning you won’t have to replace the entire thing. JKP Restoration owner Jeff Kay offers a handful of pointers for anyone tackling this task.
Keep an eye on the weather
Kay says May is one of the best times of the year for refinishing and staining a deck. It’s warm but not hot, and usually drier than April. You’ll need at least three rain-free days to clean and stain the deck. “You need to coat the deck when it’s dry because water will not allow the coating to adhere well,” Kay says
Replace worn wood
Without replacing deteriorating floorboards or railings, staining your deck won’t help in your efforts to increase its life. Stain wears more quickly on rotted or damaged wood. Kay recommends prying up damaged boards with a crowbar or hammer and replacing them. “Take a piece of that deck and go to Home Depot or Lowe’s and match the depth [of the floorboard] exactly,” he says.
Scrub the scum
Once you’ve replaced any damaged pieces, use a power washer and a cleaning solution (Kay recommends Jomax Deck Wash), to clean off dirt, debris and the old layer of stain. But be careful you don’t hold the nozzle of the power washer too close, stripping away the wood itself. “That’s a no-no,” Kay says, “because you’ll do more damage than good.”
Apply two coats of the stain using a 4-inch brush (Kay says rollers get messy). While he acknowledges that picking a color of stain comes down to personal preference and whether it matches the other elements of your house, he cautions anyone gravitating toward darker colors, which retain more heat. “If your deck is facing the sun, no one’s going to go on that deck because it’s going to be so darn hot,” Kay says