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From Old Deck to New: Applying New Stain to Your Deck

A deck should be somewhere you are proud to spend your time; an outdoor getaway right outside your door where you can sit, eat, entertain and relax! When the damage and finish on a deck starts to wear away, this relaxing spot of your home can become stressful, ugly, and even dangerous.

Most decks should be cleaned and re-stained every few years, so if yours is overdue (and don’t worry, you’re probably in good company), this blog is for you. Let’s get that deck back to a place where you’re happy to spend time and entertain, and while we’re at it, we can protect your deck boards against moisture and sun damage.

Blog Series: Restaining Your Deck

Difficulty: Medium
Time: 2 days

As always, when handling chemicals, it is important to use proper safety gear such as eye protection, gloves, and respiration equipment.  You should also wear long sleeves and pants. Also, NEVER mix chemicals with other cleaners!

If you will be using a power washer, use extreme caution. Do not point the nozzle end at anyone including yourself.

Prep Your Deck and Surrounding Area

Begin by removing all furniture and fixtures from your deck.

Now you can examine the condition of your deck boards. For localized damage or rotting, all that’s needed is a quick repair.

Helpful hints: After buying replacement deck boards, set them out on your deck for several days before installing them.  This will ensure that the replacement boards will have the same moisture content as the existing deck.  When installing a new deck board, leave a 1/8″ gap between it and existing boards and 1/4″ gap if butting.

Then using a small leaf blower or push broom, remove any loose debris from the deck surface.

Finally, take some time to prep your plants. Since many deck cleaners contain powerful chemicals, you’ll want to protect any plants, bushes, trees, or shrubs near your deck. Mist them with water, then cover them with clear plastic sheeting or tarp to keep chemicals off of them.

Deck Surface Prep: Cleaning Before Re-staining

pressure washer for deckUsing a pressure washer to apply a wood cleaner is an excellent way to quickly remove dirt, grime, mildew and graying from your deck boards. It will also rid the old deck of mold, mildew, and algae. The idea is to reveal clean bare wood so the new deck stain will perform correctly.

If your deck hasn’t been sealed or painted for 2 years or more, use Benjamin Moore’s 316 RESTORE to help take the old weathered layer of wood off and expose the fresh raw wood underneath to ensure maximum adhesion of the new coating to a sound surface.  This product will also act as a mold/mildew remover.

Once the cleaning process is complete it is essential to apply Benjamin Moore’s 317 BRIGHTEN to neutralize the acids from the 316 RESTORE.  This will bring the wood back to it’s natural color, which will help any wood tones you may be trying to achieve look accurate and also ensure a pH balanced surface for your new coating to adhere to.  Mix a 1/2 gallon of BRIGHTEN® with 3-1/2 gallons of water in a NONMETALLIC container. Apply the diluted solution liberally to the deck surface using a plastic garden sprayer.  Allow the solution to stand for several minutes. Next, agitate with a stiff bristle brush in the direction of the wood grain, then rinse using a garden hose.

Even though a pressure washer is a useful household tool, you don’t necessarily have to buy one to do this task, you can also rent one from Koopman. As with all rental equipment that we send out, we will make sure that you understand how to use it properly. Learn more about renting a pressure washer at Koopman Lumber.

Safety First: Pressure washers are VERY powerful tools. They spray water with enough concentrated pressure to strip away skin, cause burns, and even break more fragile bones. Don’t EVER point it at someone or at yourself, even as a joke.

When using a pressure washer, be sure to focus on cleaning a few boards at a time, washing from end to end.  Work your way from an interior edge to an exterior edge in a continuous spray. Stopping and starting can cause an uneven end result.

Deck Surface Prep: Stripping Old Deck Stain

03150001 deck stripperIf an old deck stain is present, then you may have to use a chemical deck stain stripper instead of a deck cleaner. While it will similarly remove dirt, grime, mildew and graying, deck stripper will also loosen and emulsify any old remnants of deck stain so that they can be washed away as well.

It is essential to remove any remnants of old under-performing stain so it does not hinder the new stains performance.  If the existing stain is in good shape and still sticking to the deck, this step is not necessary unless you are changing from a solid stain to a semi-transparent, semi-solid or translucent stain and vice versa.  That type of changeover requires absolutely raw, fresh wood to have the proper color/effect.

Once the stripping is complete it is essential to apply Benjamin Moore’s 317 BRIGHTEN to neutralize the acids from the stripping process.  This will also bring the wood back to it’s natural color, which will help any wood tones you may be trying to achieve look accurate and ensure a pH balanced surface for the new coating to adhere to.  Mix a 1/2 gallon of Restore® with 3-1/2 gallons of water in a NONMETALLIC container.

Apply the diluted solution liberally to the deck surface using a plastic garden sprayer.  Allow the solution to stand for several minutes. Next, agitate with a stiff bristle brush in the direction of the wood grain, then rinse using a garden hose.

Applying the New Stain

1956960 wooster deck stain brushAfter you’ve allowed at least 48 hours of dry weather for your deck surface to dry sufficiently, it’s time to check the wood to see if it’s ready for stain!  Drop a couple of beads of water onto a few areas of the deck, if the water sucks right in, you’re ready to go.  If it sits on the surface for a little bit, it’s likely not dry yet.

Regardless of how you apply your wood stain, keep a paint brush at hand. The agitation and friction caused by a paint brush will cause the wood to absorb more stain. So if you are spraying or rolling the stain, always back-brush it in while the stain is still wet; you will achieve much better penetration into the wood.  Keeping a wet edge also eliminates lap-marks.

Applying Semi-Transparent, Semi-Solid Or Translucent Stain:
When applying semi-transparent, semi-solid or translucent stain, you may wish to apply with a spray applicator or brush and roller.  Apply the stain to the wood 2-3 boards at a time, working with the grain of the deck. Keep a wet edge as you work; just barely overlapping as you work your way across the deck. After you spray each row, inspect for puddles and be sure to brush them into the wood.

When applying semi-transparent, semi-solid or translucent stains, only 1 coat is necessary.  For the translucent stains, you may apply a second coat using a “wet-on-wet” method.  To achieve this, apply your first coat over 2-3 boards in the same manner you normally would.  But before you move on to the next section, re-apply a light coat of new stain over the just applied stain and quickly brush it into the 1st coat, be sure to avoid puddling.  This will build a deeper color and give you a little more protection.  Be cautious though, you must maintain that wet edge still so this process must be quick.  It can be tricky if you’re doing it yourself, so try to have someone on hand to help keep things moving along.

Applying Solid Stain:
When using solid stain, spraying is usually too labor intensive and less controllable to be practical.  Instead, apply two THIN COATS using a roller and brush method.  Allow the first coat to dry thoroughly (usually 4-6 hours when it’s 70 degrees out and 50% humidity; higher temperatures will cure the coating faster, but higher humidity will slow it down) before applying the second THIN COAT.  Thin coats ensure the coating cures properly and achieves proper adhesion.  Thicker coats will cover better, but when the coating cures from the outside in, moisture often gets trapped and the stain never reaches full cure, leading to sticky feet and guaranteed peeling in the future.

Let the deck dry for a minimum of 2 days before light use, and a week before putting furniture back on it.  All that’s left is to invite friends and family over to admire your great work!

Wrap Up

Having a deck that looks brand new is a bit of work, but you’ll agree that it’s well worth it when you see how awesome the finished product looks! You’ll be hosting barbecues in the back yard for years to come after this!

Thanks for checking out our blog! For all of your paint and stain needs, stop by and see us at one of our conveniently located Koopman stores.  If you have any questions or comments, feel free to discuss them with us below!