With the summertime season in full swing one must consider condition of backyard deck. Some decks quickly show wear and tear and may be in much need of some cleaning, replacing, and perhaps even re-staining. The best time to begin your deck maintenance would be in the late spring to early summer when you have the ability to capture at least three days in a row of dry conditions. It is very important to realize that cleaning and re-staining a deck will take more than a day and short cuts will lead to poor results as I found this out a few years ago when I applied a stain to wood that was still wet. The stages to completing your deck refinishing include inspection, cleaning, and re-staining.
So you have decided this is the year to refinish that dilapidated deck out back? Well, first you need to consider doing a thorough inspection of the deck and look for decking that is close to being completely worn or split. Any boards considered suspect should be removed and discarded. Also examine deck surface and make sure all screws and nails are flush or slightly below surface. Also examine rails and spindles for wear and tear and also replace wherever appropriate.
Now that the inspection is done and any necessary planks and spindles have been replaced, you want to commence cleaning the deck. The first process to cleaning the deck involves the simple sweep of dirt and debris from the surface. Do a thorough sweep of decks and clean out areas between planks. Now that the loose debris is off the decking, it is time to give the surface a deep cleaning.
The optimal and recommended way to prepare your surface for staining is by cleaning your decking with a power washer that does not exceed 3000 psi. I would recommend 2500 psi for optimal performance. If you do not own a pressure washer I would seek out a friend that owns one or rent one at the local hardware center. Pressure washers should come with a 40 degree tip applicator which is what you are going to need for this job. Find a piece of scrap wood or test the power washer on pavement to get used to the pressure prior to commencing your deck cleaning. The cleaning solution should consist of water mixed with a little bleach. Take caution to cover nearby plants with plastic to avoid being destroyed by any possible overspray. Do a thorough job of pressure washing using long back and forth strokes with washer. Avoid concentrating your sprayer in one area for too long or the wood could get destroyed. Any wood that is splintered or harmed by such pressure washing will have to be replaced. Once the cleaning is completed, the deck will need at least two days to completely dry out. If they forecast allows for even longer period of dry conditions, then wait a third day before apply stain.
Re-Staining the Deck
Well now that you have a deck free of dirt, grime, and can see the true wood grain once again, you are ready to pick out your stain. Stains vary as being transparent, semi transparent, and solid. The choice of stain depends upon your needs. If the deck cleaning reveals a comfortable tone and you would like to use that existing color, consider using a transparent sealer. The sealer will protect the existing color from harmful elements and you will retain that look for a few years.
Consider using semi transparent stain/sealer when you like the wood grain look but would like to give it a shade of a different color. The home centers or hardware stores usually have a pretty sizable deck stain selection to choose from.
The solid stain is a preferred choice for people that would like to change entire stain color of the existing deck. Some people would like to get a color or tone to match the house. These stains are displayed as paint samples in some home centers. When you have decided to completely change the color of the stain to a deck, you must be absolutely sure that the previous stain has been removed from the decking during your cleaning process. If the old color is still present, you may have to apply a deck stripper.
The quickest and easiest method to apply the stain is with the use of a paint sprayer. These sprayers can also be rented at most hardware centers or rental yards. I tend to go the old fashioned route and use a bristle brush to go back and forth each plank. If you are planning on using a heavier solid stain, it is recommended to use a hand brush.