Reminder - An ACC Application is required for all deck staining or exterior painting projects. Also - We encourage you to consult with a professional for best results on this type of a project. How to stain your deck like a pro.
Step 1: Take your Time
With every step of the staining process, take your time. When the project is completed and your tools are cleaned and put away, nothing will have had a greater impact on the quality of the job. Here's a few tips before you get started. Take your time to allow new pressure treated lumber to weather for a few months and dry out before staining it. Allow stain strippers to be left on the surface long enough to break down old finishes before you rinse it off. Take your time to prevent overspray and spills on non-target surfaces and wait to start your project until the weather forecast is favorable.
Step 2 - Preparation, Preparation, Preparation
Preparation is key to the final results. All wood needs to be cleaned well before staining, whether it’s a brand new deck, or an older deck that’s been out in the weather and needs to be re-stained. Brand new lumber needs to be cleaned to remove “mill scale”. Mill scale is a crushing of the grain that takes place during the milling process. If it's left un-cleaned, it can prevent wood stains from properly penetrating into the wood surface.
On an older deck, dirt, graying from the sun, mildew and old stains all need to be removed prior to staining. Sodium Percarbonate wood cleaners, also known as oxygen bleach wood cleaners, are a great choice for this step. They are highly effective at cleaning the wood, yet won’t harm plant life and vegetation. Best of all, they won’t hurt you either. Their soapy consistency won’t burn your skin.
If there is a build up of old stains on the deck then the job gets a little tougher but not impossible. Instead of a sodium percarbonate cleaner you’ll need to use a stain stripper. Strippers are a little more caustic so follow the directions carefully. They work great and will remove most weathered stains in a single application. Lastly, if there are small spots of stain that won’t come off during the cleaning process, they should sand off easily using a palm-type sander after the deck has dried. If those spots of stain are left on the deck, they will show through the new finish and detract from the deck’s final appearance. Some stain manufacturers offer a free instructional video to help walk you through this entire process. They’re a terrific tool to use to ensure that you do it right the first time.
Step 3: Brighteners are Beautiful
In the deck staining process, no step is skipped more than this one. It's by far the easiest step to do and it will have a dramatic effect on the final results. Wood brighteners are easy to apply. They help open up the surface of the wood to improve penetration, neutralize any stain strippers that were used, and restore the appearance of old, weathered wood to like new again. That's a lot of things for one product to accomplish, but brighteners will do all of that so don't skip using them . To use them, simply spray them on, wait a few minutes, and rinse them off. No scrubbing, and no "elbow grease" needed. There are so many benefits and they're so easy, there's no reason to not use them!
Decks are best stained with a semi-transparent wood stain. These types of products allow the natural grain of the wood to show through, allow the wood to naturally breathe, and are easily cleaned and reapplied. Pay attention to the directions and don’t over apply these types of products. You’ll end up with a beautiful, shiny finish that will probably peel off over time. When too much stained is applied a film can form, much like paint, that will longer allow the wood to breathe. When this happens the end result will be peeling and that’s a real mess. So only apply as much stain as the wood can easily absorb.
Step 4: Rinse like Mad
Use lots and lots of water after using any cleaning chemicals. Even though some of these chemicals can seem safe and harmless, they all need to be rinsed off extremely well after they are used. Left in the wood, these chemicals can resurface over time and begin to attack and break down the new stain. So once you are done cleaning, rinse the deck thoroughly to get all of the chemicals out of the wood.
Step 5: Stay Away from the Cheap Stuff
Now that the deck is clean and dry, it's ready to be stained. Before you decide which stain to buy, keep in mind that you always get what you pay for. Better ingredients cost more money. If you expect premium results then you'll need to buy a premium product. There is a difference in quality when it comes to resins, pigments, mildewcides and many other materials that make up a gallon of wood stain. So stay away from the cheap stuff if you expect it to last.
Step 6: Take a Look at Waterborne Stains
Water based deck stains have become really popular in the last few years. If you have been reluctant to try them in the past, don't be reluctant any longer. Air quality regulations have forced manufacturers to really improve these products some are now better, more durable and longer lasting than conventional oil-based alternatives. They offer some distinct advantages to the user that oil base stains can't offer. Good quality water based stains clean up with soap and water, there are no nasty solvents to breathe, they have a significantly better resistance to weathering, the wood doesn't need to be completely dry to use them, they dry more quickly than solvents and they are much easier on the environment.
Additionally, some of the waterborne stains are synthetic as well, such as DEFY Extreme Wood Stain. Synthetic resin wood stains are far less susceptible to mold growth, mildew and algae. So if you're in area with a fair amount of moisture and humidity, there are some real advantages in waterborne synthetic stains.
Step 7: Read the Can...Follow the Directions
Every product is a little different so always read the label for directions. It only takes a few minutes and it will ensure that you have all of the right information before you get started. Pay attention to how many coats of stain to apply, how long to wait between coats, how long to wait after cleaning and how long to allow wood to weather. So read the label first and you're likely to get it right the first time
Within the Union Mills Townhome section, we need to strongly emphasize that the goal is for the wood to appear as natural as possible and you must be able to see the grain in the wood. (please NO stains that are either dark, brown, red, Green, etc). "Natural Cedar" is usually a good choice (Considering that the VanMetre homes orginally came with cedar fencing while the Batal homes came with pressure treated pine fences). We need to emphasize in the Guidelines for the townhomes that (1) wood finish must appear natural and you must be able to see the grain.
Uncoated wood may have mill glaze that can cause a coating to fail. The PREMIUM DECK, FENCE & SIDING PREP Products will prepare the uncoated surface, allow the new coating to fully penetrate the wood surface, and ensure a longer lasting, more durable finish.
Remember that Solid Stains are Prohibited in the townhome section along with Red Stains and Dark Stains.
See ACC design Guidelines for info on deck stain choices.