Prepare your deck

Tips and tricks on how to prepare your deck properly

Your deck is a valuable structure. It adds a lot of value to your home and it is important to maintain properly so you it can last you as long as possible. When it comes to staining a deck, most people have it all wrong and that is why the result is mediocre at best. There are many factors that go in to staining a deck properly and that is why we are writing this newsletter.

First let’s talk about things you shouldn’t do and why ?

Don’t use high pressure : when you use high pressure you are not cleaning your deck. You are simply blasting away SOME of the mold and mildew as well as a thin layer of your precious wood. By pressure washing the deck every time you stain it,  you are slowly taking off new layers of your pre existing wood, and thus, significantly reducing it’s life span.

Don’t stain over pre existing stain : stain is a repellant. Which means that once it has dried, it will repel any liquid that it comes into contact with. So if you haven’t properly taken off the old stain. Your new stain won’t bond with the wood and will cause rapid failure of your coating.

Steps you should take to prepare your wood

1. Do a spot test

Before you clean your deck, you need to check to see if there is still stain bonded to the wood. The easy way to see is by gently spraying the deck with a garden hose. If water seeps into the wood, than you are ready to clean, if the water stays on the surface of the wood, that means there is still pre existing stain and you need to strip it off.

2. Protect the surrounding areas

Tape down any electrical outlets. Cover any important items and remove everything from the deck as well as underneath your deck. Use a mask as well as gloves for optimal protection.

3. Rinse everything

the products that are used to clean can be a problem if you let them dry onto a surface undiluted. So give a good rinse to all plants, stone, siding, windows or anything that could come into contact with the products.

4. Clean or strip

This step consists of killing all the mold, mildew and stain that is currently on the wood. If you did the spot test, you will either need to buy a stripper (sodium hydroxide base) or a Cleaner (Sodium hypochlorite base). These products can be bought at any paint store. Normally a stripper is also a cleaner so you don’t have to do both steps. Simply fill up your product in a pump up sprayer by reading the instructions on the bottle and spray on your coat.

5. Rinse 

After applying the product, gently mist the deck every few minutes so the product doesn’t dry onto the surface. Normally 15 minutes of dwell time is plenty. Remember that you want to let the product do all of the work so you don’t have to sand as much. Rinse off the product thoroughly with either a garden hose or a pressure washer with a white tip. If you choose to use a pressure washer, give yourself at least 2 feet between your tip and the surface of the wood so you can use as little pressure as possible. Rinse down all plants and surrounding areas as well.

6. Brighten

This is one of the most important steps to make your deck look AWESOME! Cleaners and strippers are alkaline products so they will generally darken the wood. It’s important to neutralize the PH of the wood by using an acidic brightener. (Oxalic acid). You can buy this product at your local paint store. Simply fill up your product in a pump up sprayer by reading the instructions on the bottle and spray on your coat with a pump up sprayer.

7. Rinse, rinse and rinse

After brightening and rinsing the deck, wait at least 24 hours for the wood to dry. If it rains within those 24 hours you might want to wait a bit longer.

8. Sand (optional)

if you take the proper steps to preparing your deck, you most likely don’t have to sand. Your deck should be ready to go. However in some cases where the deck was in rough shape or had a lot of pre existing stains, spot sanding may be required. Use a palm sander, it will save you a lot of time !


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