A deck is a special part of your outdoor living space that should last for years. Keep your wood deck looking its best with the right cleaners, sealers and stains.
If you have an existing wood deck, strip the stain and sealer from the surface.
After the deck is free from existing stain or sealant, use a cleaner specifically designed for wood decks. Deck cleaners work with chemical muscle. You'll typically find one of these active ingredients:
Some people prefer biodegradable products that are free of bleach, acid and phosphates, making them a safer choice for use around plants and pets. Read the ingredients list thoroughly to determine if the product you're considering is a natural choice.
For a composite deck, use a product formulated specifically for composite decking, or use dishwashing detergent and water. Wood deck cleaners are too strong and may cause composite materials to fade.
Sealers and stains are either water-based or oil-based. Water-based products offer easier cleanup and less odor; oil-based products tend to penetrate deeper for longer-lasting stain.
There are four main options for deck stains: clear, toner, semi-transparent and solid / opaque. As a general rule, older and more weathered wood requires a solid or opaque stain to cover imperfections. Most sealers provide waterproofing and sealing protection. The best sealers penetrate the wood deeply to provide the most protection. Look for an oil-based product mixed with latex for easy cleanup.
Color and tint options vary according to product - whether a stain, sealer or combination product - so refer to your product's specifications for more detail. However, the general color / tint options are:
An alternative to stains or sealers is a resurfacer or restoration product. These finishes are like a very thick paint. Applied with a brush or roller, they cover deck boards and do not show wood grain. Tints can be added to match your home exterior or deck railings.
The frequency of re-treating or re-coating varies by product. Read the label for guidance.
Before you tackle deck maintenance, cleaning or restoration, consider:
Your deck maintenance shopping list will contain more than just cleaner and sealer. These products may make the job easier: