Sealing a Deck
by Mark J. Donovan
A deck is an extension of your home’s living space and where you will spend much of your time during the summer months. Consequently, it needs to be treated and cared for as much as your home’s inside rooms.
Most important to the care of your deck is regularly sealing it. This is particularly true if you want your deck to maintain the natural color of the wood.
Sealing a deck is critical in order to preserve the life and look of the wood. The sealant preserves the beauty of the natural wood by protecting it from both water and sun damage.
When to Apply the Deck Sealant
In order to preserve the natural wood look for many years, I typically apply the sealant every year. Also, I usually apply it in late summer/early fall as I live in New England. I do this because of the concern of snow lying on the deck for long periods of time during the winter months. My concern is in the acidity of the water in the snow.
By putting on a sealant just prior to snow season, I can provide peak protection against the prolonged damaging effects of the acid contained in the water. In hotter climates, where there is less snow, I would suggest applying the deck sealer in late spring
Clean the deck prior to Sealing
First, remove all of the deck furniture off of the deck.
Prior to sealing it is then best to power wash the deck and let it thoroughly dry. You may need to use a stiff bristly brush to get off any material that is not being removed by the power washer. Pine pitch frequently requires the services of this tool. There are also a variety of products offered by sealant manufactures that can also assist in the deck sealant preparation.
After power washing it may take 24-48 hours, or even longer, for the deck to thoroughly dry, pending weather conditions. Make sure the deck is completely dry prior to applying the sealant. Otherwise the sealant may not be appropriately absorbed into the wood’s surface.
Once the deck is dry, and you are about ready to begin sealing, use a leaf blower to remove any debris that may have fallen onto the deck’s surface since you power washed it. If you do not have a leaf blower, than simply sweep the deck.
Sealing the deck
First, the deck sealer should not be applied if the temperature is below 50 degrees Fahrenheit and if rain is forecasted in the next 24 hours. Otherwise the sealant may not absorb properly, nor dry properly.
Using a brush apply the sealant around all the deck edges and posts. Once the edging is complete, use a sprayer, brush or roller to apply the sealant to the deck surface. Make sure that the sealant is firmly pressed into the wood surface to maximize the penetration of the sealant into the wood.
Typically only one coat is recommended by most deck sealers.
Though most manufactures suggest the deck is ready for walking on after 24 hours, I would recommend waiting a little longer if the weather has not been ideal for drying conditions.
Once the deck is dry, return the deck furniture and enjoy the beauty of your deck for another year.