Deck Sealers For Wood
by Pete Marentay
Before using any deck sealer to seal a deck, allow the wood to dry for at least 24-48 hours before you seal it with any oil based sealer. Once you believe the wood is dry, you should test it with a moisture meter. Be sure to test the areas that do not get much sun, such as close to the house. You are looking for 12% moisture or less. In a pinch, you can seal wood at 15%, but you are really pushing the edge with that.
Take a little time to protect the yard plants and lawn around the deck. Sun Brite Supply has lightweight inexpensive paper-poly drop-cloths that will prevent sealer from landing on vegetation. Sealer blocks the pores of vegetation, so the leaf cannot breathe. Cover up and be safe. NOTE: Never use sheet plastic over vegetation. On a sunny day, plants can fry within minutes.
If there are any fuzzies on the wood, use a sanding sponge with medium grit (or a brass wire brush, an Osborne brush, or a de-felting pad) to go over the entire area. This step will help assure professional looking results.
Remember that Ready Seal is made with inert oil that contains no sugars or starches. We caution you to avoid any sealer that contains linseed oil (even in small amounts, linseed oil supports the growth of mildew with its natural sugars and starches). We also caution you about using any sealer without superior UV protection. That includes all clear sealers. Generally speaking, darker sealant colors contain more UV protection. Ready Seal contains some of the finest pigments available today, combined with exclusive resins that help the stain be absorbed completely into the wood very quickly. Ready Seal is permeable, which means it allows the wood to breathe naturally but will not allow moisture drops to enter the wood.
Using a good brush with white china bristles, apply the sealer along the edge of the deck nearest the house. Cover about 12" to 18" out from the house, being very careful to feather the edges so that you avoid a straight, visible line where the brushing stops and the spraying will begin. Cutting-in the edge like this allows you to begin spraying away from the house, minimizing your clean-up at the end of the job. Many contractors spray the entire deck, avoiding the extra labor needed for cutting-in by using sheet plastic or a flexible painters shield to protect the house from spray.
A DECKSTER sprayer is the quickest method to apply Ready Seal when used by a professional. On a windy day, the Hurricane Brush will be the fastest way to apply Ready Seal without creating a clean-up headache. Ready Seal can also be applied with a pump-up sprayer, but that is more labor-intensive and a less-even application than you get when using a DECKSTER. You may also use a brush or roll it, but those methods are more labor-intensive and usually dont get the sealer on to the sides of the boards like the sprayer does.
Take time to protect any patio under the deck. Sealer that drips onto concrete is extremely difficult to remove later on. If you spray the sealer, also protect plants and house surfaces. If you must clean up spilled sealer or overspray, use mineral spirits or denatured alcohol. Mineral spirits is the best all-around cleaner, while denatured alcohol works very well for cleaning it off glass.
Two light coats (applied wet-on-wet) are much better than one heavy one. Once the first coat of sealer has been on the wood for at least 15 - 30 minutes, it will accept a moderate second coat. Once the second coat of sealer has been on the wood for about 20 minutes, the wood has absorbed all it will take. If there are any wet or shiny spots visible, they can be wiped with a clean rag or back-brushed with a flat stain pad to remove them.
Ready Seal is really goof-proof. That means that you wont get lap marks or runs, and it means that rainy weather cant mess it up. The sealed wood is ready to stand up to rain within about 15 minutes after applying Ready Seal. The deck is ready to use immediately, while the sealer continues to dry beneath the surface of the wood for about 2-3 weeks.
Expect the color of the newly-sealed wood to be somewhat darker that the color sample indicated. The wood may also have a slightly splotchy appearance. The color will lighten considerably and even out over the next two weeks or so. The color will continue to lighten gradually, depending on use and exposure to sun. Typically, this process should be repeated every two years or so to maintain optimal appearance and protection.