With warmer temperatures comes the prospect of actually doing something fun outside, like enjoying your deck. That means it is once again time to wonder if your old buddy, the deck, needs sealing.
Now I know what you are thinking. You are thinking that sealing your deck is on the list of fun things to do right behind picking your mother-in-law up at the airport.
I know you would rather be sitting in front of your big screen television watching the Gilligan’s Island marathon than out working on your deck , but take heart – a few hours of work with relatively no heavy lifting on your deck will give you a deck that will last through another season of grilling out and sipping mai tais.
First of all, your deck may not even need to be sealed.
Here’s how to tell: simply drip water on the deck. If it beads, then your deck does not need to be re-sealed. Yes, your deck could be old and grungy, but if it still beads water then more than likely it only needs to be cleaned.
Cleaning is easy. You can use a product like Deck Brite, or a deck cleaner from Behr, Jomax, or Olympic and clean the deck with little trouble. Be sure to read and follow all label directions.
Simple enough, but what if the water didn’t bead?
Then you may miss an episode or two of Gilligan. It will probably be the episode where the castaways have a plan to get rescued but then Gilligan messes it up.
I know. That’s your favorite one…
So let’s say you have to do some sealing – and you really should at some point because it will help your deck last longer. Here is what you need to know:
- Protection. Protection for you means goggles and rubber gloves while you are working with the stripper and the stain or sealer. You must also protect your plants and vegetation around the deck. This means soaking the plants to help dilute anything that maybe come in contact with them, and then cover with plastic.
- Stripping. Not you. Believe me; no one wants to see you working on your deck with your shirt off, especially the last week of March or the first week of April. It’s also good to use a stripper even if most of the deck doesn’t need it just so the whole deck will be at the same starting point.
- Purchase a quality stain/sealer stripper from your favorite hardware store. No matter how big of a man you are, please be sure to read and follow all label directions. After applying the stripper be sure to rinse off with plenty of water (to help dilute the stripper as it goes into your yard). Let your deck dry and give it the water test again.
Repeat this whole step again if necessary – that is if water still beads.
For reasons that will become evident later, when stripping it is important to strip the entire deck.
Allow your deck some time to dry. Maybe here you can catch an episode or two of Gilligan’s Island, or if you’re really lucky maybe Hogan’s Heroes will be on (fyi - Kinch has a radio in the coffee pot).
Now your deck is ready for staining/sealing.
- Sealing. Find a nice semi-transparent stain from your favorite hardware store and again, (I sense a theme here) read and follow all label directions, applying with a roller.
Work in small areas, applying the second coat BEFORE the first coat dries.
Because if you allow the first coat of SEALANT to dry, guess what it does to the second coat? That’s right, it seals it out there by not allowing your second coat to soak in and dry.
That second coating of sealant is very, very, very, very, very difficult to remove. It will also be very, very, very, very, very slippery. If you don’t believe me, call my brother-in-law.
- Clean up. Wash your hands and rinse the tarps covering your vegetation. Throw away the roller you used during application. Fold the tarp and store in your crawl space. Place the unused cans of sealant and stripper in a well-ventilated area.
Wipe your feet before you step on the carpet. Hang your hat on the hat rack you got for Christmas 7 years ago but have never used.
Put your clothes in the hamper. Hang up the towel you stole from the Hampton Inn and wipe up any water on the floor around the shower. Don’t wear the striped shirt with the plaid shorts or the black calf length socks with sandals (you know who you are).
There, your deck is good to go for the entire season. You may want to give it the old water test again in 6-8 months, but as your deck gets older you will have to do it less.
And that’s good news.