It is always important to follow the suggested application instructions when it comes to deck staining or sealing to ensure you get the best protection. A sometimes over looked necessity of deck sealing and staining is prepping the wood correctly before coating it.

Deck staining is certainly crucial to the appearance and lifespan of any deck or exterior wood surface. But to get the most from your sealer you need to prep the wood correctly and follow some application guidelines.

The first thing to understand is that deck stain or sealer needs to penetrate the wood in order to perform well. Therefore, the wood should be cleaned and free of any dirt, mold, mildew, graying and old failing stain or sealer. Use a wood cleaner to wash the deck unless an old failing sealer is present, then you need to wash the wood using a wood stain remover instead.

After cleaning a wood deck it is important to apply a wood deck brightener. This is true whether you used a wood cleaner or a stain stripper. The brightener will reverse the darkening effect of the wood cleaner by brightening the wood and correcting the pH level. This is important as the new wood sealer needs a more acidic surface to penetrate well.

Once the wood deck is cleaned it should be allowed to dry for several days. Deck staining or sealing too soon can trap moisture in the wood that may lead to mold or mildew problems and premature failure of the sealer.

After the deck has dried for several days you are ready for deck sealing or staining. As mentioned, it is important to follow the instructions on the stain label. Most deck coatings can be applied using a brush, roller, stain pad, or garden type pump sprayer.

A common mistake is to over apply the sealer or cause lap marks by stopping and starting. To avoid lap marks start at one end of a board and continue coating the entire board before stopping. Then start on the next board in the same manner.

To avoid over application, back brush or wipe any excess stain off with a stain rag that has not absorbed into the wood within 5-10 minutes. If it has not absorbed by then it is not going to. Leaving puddles, drips, or runs will cause the stain to appear shiny and will lead to peeling and flaking in several months. You want the stain or sealer to penetrate the wood so only apply as much stain as the wood can absorb.

Follow these deck staining and deck sealing instructions and you will see the benefits of a more appealing and longer lasting finish.

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  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    JW · 07/29/2014
    OK - RAD kit and AC Stain ordered. Some follow up questions:
    1. Once you have completed the cleaner step is there a waiting time before you can proceed to the brightner step?
    2. Once the Brightner step is completed how long do you need to wait to stain ?
    3. In terms of weather - how many days of "no rain" do I need following the staining?
    4. I am getting different information on how many coats of AC stain are necessary. We will be using a mix of 2/3 semi-solid and 1/3 semi transparent. Your product information states:"If the first coat penetrates within 30 minutes a second coat can be applied for extra protection." [u]What do you mean in this context by "penetrate"?[/u] Does this mean dry? I have noticed that Jake Clark of AC has advised people on other forums to apply a second coat "wet on wet". My deck is partially in the sun even in the morning. [u]How long will I have before the first coat is too dry to apply a second coat "wet on wet".?[/u]
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    The Sealer Store · 07/28/2014
    1. No
    2. You should use both the cleaner and brightener. Cleaners lifts sand dust and will swell the wood pores so the stain will penetrate deeper.
    3. No need to sand again.
  • We will reply to your comment shortly
    JW · 07/28/2014
    I had to remove a failed BM acrylic stain applied two years ago to my 9 yr old cedar deck. (I will be going back to an oil based stain - this time Armstrong Clark.) I did not use a stripper - I powerwashed the deck first. Then I countersunk the screws and then sanded with a 40 grit drum sander and then went over it all again with a 60 grit, followed by vacuuming. [u]The boards look like new.[/u] Questions:
    1. Do I need to sand again now with a higher grit (ie.80 grit) for just smoothness reasons?
    2. Can I go right to the brightner (and skip the cleaner that seems to be always recommended in your articles/posts) ? I reiterate - the boards look great. What would a cleaner do?
    3. It will likely be 4 days until I get the brightener (and cleaner perhaps) shipped from you. Will I have to sand again because of what the hot sun will do over the next 4 days?