« Preparing New Pressure Treated Wood Deck to Take a Finish | Main | Stain Selection »

Monday, August 01, 2011

Advice from the Pros:

Prepping Your Deck for Stain


Whether your deck is made of pressure-treated lumber, cedar, redwood, or teak, everything from the sun's UV rays to rain and snow to simple everyday use creates wear and tear on the surface. Sooner or later it'll need refinishing. Telltale signs that your deck needs a bit more attention than just a good scrubbing are: peeling; when water no longer beads on the surface; grey wood (an indication of dead wood fibers); and splintering (the wood is drying out).

As with almost any paint job, expect to spend most of your time prepping: A good strategy is to devote one weekend to cleaning and prepping, and the following weekend to applying the finish. No matter what the situation, time spent properly at this stage means the final finish will last longer and application will be quicker and easier. 

Pro Tip: The best time to refinish a deck is in mid-to-late spring, early summer or early fall, when the surface temperature of the deck is above 50°F, but below 90°F, and when the humidity level is low to average. (If you can't put your hand on the deck and leave it there without getting uncomfortable then it's too hot.) Best times to work are in the late morning or late afternoon, when the surface is not in direct sunlight.

How you prepare the deck is determined by its current condition and what kind of stain (clear, semi-transparent, semi-solid, or solid) you decide to use. You most likely have one of three kinds of existing decks: one that's a few years old and has never been coated; one that's been stained with a semi-transparent stain and is in good condition; and a deck that's at least three years old and has been stained multiple times with a semi-transparent stain. Here are the basics for dealing with each of these situations:

First, remove all furniture, planters, toys, and grills from the area. Sweep off any debris, and then check for raised or "popped" nails. These should be either counter sunk or removed with the claw end of a hammer and replaced with galvanized deck screws. Never stain over damaged or rotted wood. All bad boards should be replaced before surface preparation.

Unfinished Decks
If your deck has never been stained, UV rays from the sun will have broken down the wood fibers. Cleaning and renewing the surface can be accomplished with Benjamin Moore 316 Restore. It is designed to remove dead surface fiber and any dirt and contamination. Follow this with an application of Benjamin Moore 317 Brighten to neutralize the Restorer and bring the wood back to its original color tone. Once the surface has dried, sand with a belt sander to remove any raised or loose fibers. At this point, you can apply any of the Arborcoat products from Translucent to Solid stain.

Pro Tip: Follow the label instruction for all prep products, all of which can be applied with a standard garden pump sprayer.

Previously Stained Decks in Good Condition
If your deck has a semi-transparent finish and is in sound condition (not peeling, worn areas to bare wood, badly weathered etc.), clean it with Benjamin Moore 318 Cleaner to remove dirt, contaminations and mildew. After the deck has dried, sand lightly with 80 grit sandpaper. At this point, you can apply Arborcoat 623 Translucent, 639 Semi Solid or Solid Stains. If your finish choice is the Arborcoat 637 Transparent or 638 Semi Transparent two-coat deck system, the deck will have to be stripped of all previous stain.

Pro Tip: Mineral spirits on a soft rag will remove stains caused by tree sap.



Neglected Decks
If your deck is older and has multiple coats of stain, it must be stripped to a sound surface. Your have two options for this task. You can sand the deck with a mechanical sander like the OnFloor Prep 16 machine (available at your local Benjamin Moore Retailer), or use an orbital sander available at your local rental store. This is a good alternative but will limit your preparation to the horizontal deck surface; railings, spindles and steps will have to be done with a hand held sander. The other option is chemical stripping. This is a very effective preparation method but you have to wait for the deck to dry before you can stain it (normally several hours or overnight). Use Benjamin Moore 315 Remove to eliminate the old coatings. Follow that with an application of 317 Brighten, which neutralizes the Remove and brightens the wood to its original color. Once dried, the surface should be lightly sanded with 80 grit sandpaper before its ready to accept any of the Arborcoat deck coatings.

Pro tip: When using chemical strippers or cleaners, thoroughly water all vegetation around the area in advance and protect plants with a tarp.

Next time, we'll fill you in on how to choose and apply the right stain or paint.


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Prepping Your Deck for Stain :


Un autre bon poste sur le pont de finition! Était sur ​​un travail récemment, où le propriétaire a gardé la mise scellant et teinture sur le dessus de la semi-bois pourri ...... lol! fou!

Thanks for the comments!

Another good post on deck refinishing! Was on a job recently where the owner kept putting sealant and stain on top of semi-rotting wood......lol! crazy!!

The comments to this entry are closed.