Angie's List: Deck Staining

Angie's List: Deck Staining

When it comes to your deck, you may want to skip the paint and stick to the stain.

The summer is winding down, but there’s still plenty of time to enjoy your backyard deck.

If your deck is looking a little drab and needs a facelift, you do have options.

When it comes to decks, a little neglect goes a long way.

If the stain on your deck is fading or worn, you may be debating whether to stain it again or just paint over it.

Angie’s List asked the experts and most say stick with the stain.

The problem with paint is that most deck surfaces are horizontal so the paint just lays on the deck.

As a result, those areas hold water.

“As the wood shrinks and expands with changes in moisture and temperature, the paint doesn’t always have the ability to move at the exact same rate and the only thing it can do at that point is release and let go of the wood and that manifests itself in cracking and peeling and chipping of the coating,” according to John Nearon, who owns a deck company.

Unlike paint, a stain won’t chip, peel or crack.

A quality stain and sealer will penetrate the wood grain, allowing moisture to escape the wood.

“We prefer oil-based products. There are water-based products that have come onto the market that are working to different levels of success, but what we are looking for is a good quality product in terms of its coloration and the way it has the ability to penetrate and soak into the wood fibers. We are also looking for two components for the coating to protect the wood from the sun and from moisture and also fungus,” Nearon said.

Deck staining may seem like a simple weekend DIY project, but it’s a time-consuming job.

If you don’t have the time to commit or the expertise to do proper prep work, like power washing, a pro can help you get the longest-lasting results.

“Typically a company will quote staining a deck by the square foot or by the hour, so be sure it’s clear in the estimate, the size of the deck. Additionally, find out what types of materials they are going to use and remember if they are going to have to do a lot of prep work, like stripping old paint or stain, that’s going to cost extra,” Founder Angie Hicks said.

Whether you decide to do it yourself or hire a company, Angie’s List says make sure there’s a plan for covering and protecting plants and other areas from cleaners or stains.

Wood decks do need to be re-stained every few years because even the best stains will fade, especially in high-traffic areas.

Painting Versus Staining:

·         Paint: Most deck surfaces are horizontal, so the paint just “lays” on the deck. As a result, those areas hold water. Painting will only help trap in moisture, so as your boards expand and contract, the paint begins to chip.

·         Stain: The best way to go, according to deck pros, is to use a clear sealer or a semi-transparent stain on your deck. A quality stain and sealer penetrates the wood grain to seal it, while allowing moisture to escape from the wood. It won’t chip, peel or crack as the deck wood swells and shrinks. Deck pros say tell us that an oil-based or semi-transparent stain offers the most natural look.

Angie’s List Tips: Deck staining

·         Prep the surface: A properly prepared deck with yield the longest-lasting results. Have a professional power wash and clean the deck to remove and remaining stain, sealant, dirt and grime. Beware if you DIY: too much pressure and you could cause splintering and other damage to the wood. Give the deck a couple days to dry before applying the stain.

·         How much? The price of hiring a professional can vary greatly, depending on the size and shape of your deck, as well as the materials used. Basic maintenance—cleaning, wood repair and staining or sealing — ranges from $400 to more than $1,000. Companies can strip the old paint from your deck but this will increase your costs.

·         Do your homework: Get several bids, check references and confirm that the company is appropriately licensed and insured. In addition, make sure the company has a plan for covering and protecting plants and other areas from cleaners or stains.

Maintenance is key: Wood decks need to be re-stained every few years because even the best stains will fade, especially in high-traffic areas.

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