Common Deck Mistakes That Prevent an Even Finish

Not Removing Dirt/Mildew from Surface

Before beginning any deck project, be sure to clean the surface. It’s amazing what a thorough clean and condition can do to a deck, and if it’s cleaned properly you may find the sealer will last longer. One common mistake is not cleaning a deck properly or thoroughly. The deck should be deep cleaned to remove dirt, grime and buildup, and then conditioned. If a sealer is being applied, the deck needs to be gently sanded to remove any splintering or fibers, and the deck should be prepped for an even absorption.

Applying Sealer Too Soon

When sealing a deck, it is very important to prep the surface by washing, conditioning, and sanding. If the deck has not had a chance to thoroughly dry before the stain is applied, it can lead to bubbling and peeling. Wood expands when it’s wet and contracts as it dries. The sealer does just as its name suggests. It seals the wood. If there is moisture trapped, the sealer will lock it into the wood and as it dries, the wood will shrink, breaking the sealer. This will in turn lead to cracking and possibly some bubbling on the surface.

Over coating

Over coating may seem like a good idea. The more sealer the better, right? Unfortunately, that is not the case. If too much sealer is applied, it cannot be absorbed into the wood. Wood is a fiber, and just like any other fiber it is capable of absorbing only so much. If you wet a sponge, and keep wetting it, eventually it will become oversaturated and the water will just pool on top until you squeeze it out. The same thing happens to wood; however, it can’t be squeezed out. The sealer will eventually dry, but will be prone to premature peeling and cracking.

Not Applying Sealer Evenly

When applying sealer, it is very important to apply it to one board at a time. This will avoid any overlapping, which will lead to an even finish. You must be sure to follow the direction of the grain, and apply all the way to the end without stopping. Sealers are translucent when applied to the wood and any imperfections will show through. Any drip marks should be back brushed to blend evenly, and if there are any puddles of stain, an absorbent cloth can be used to soak up the excess sealer. Also, applying with lamb’s wool pads allows the stain to be mostly absorbed into the wool, and lightly and evenly applied to the deck, ensuring a perfect finish.

New Decks

When it comes to brand new decks, most people think throwing a sealer on without any prep work will be fine. It’s new, so why does it need to be prepped? Most new wood contains a shiny coating on it called a Mill Glaze. This glaze acts as a barrier and needs to be removed before stain can be applied. A light cleaning and sanding of the surface will prep it for an even finish!


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