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3 Key questions to answer before sealing or staining your deck


In the previous Decksouth blog, we talked about how to clean your deck. Now let’s take a look at the next step: sealing your deck, starting with these three key questions.   

First, does your deck need to be sealed?

Try this simple test: When you wet down the deck with a hose, does the water bead? If it does, you probably don’t need to seal the deck at this time. 

What kind of finish to use: Clear, Semi-Transparent or Solid?

There are two basic types of deck finishes: sealers and stains. Sealers are clear and have no color. Stains are either semi-transparent (just a little color or “tone” added) or solid colors. There are advantages for each type of finish.

Using a clear finish allows the natural grain of the wood to shine through. It’s also easier to apply because it doesn’t leave any lap marks during application. If you want more protection from UV rays, however, consider using a solid-color or semi-transparent finish. A solid-color finish offers the most protection against the sun, but it needs to be formulated specifically for decks, or it won’t be able to handle the foot traffic. Whatever your choice, make sure that the product is water-repellent, has a mildewcide and protects against UV rays. Some products only repel water.

Oil-based or Water-based?

This is a choice between effectiveness and convenience. An oil-based finish penetrates the wood to provide more protection, but a water-based finish is easier to clean up and is more forgiving if there’s any moisture in the wood.

Staining your deck

After you’ve answered these three key questions, applying the finish is a fairly straightforward process.  Follow these steps when staining your deck:

Step 1: Make sure conditions are right 

It’s important to work only on a deck that’s been cleaned and completely dry. A dirty deck does not do well when a finish is applied, and the wood can turn black. You also need to check the weather report to make there’s no rain for the next few days and that the temperature is above 50 degrees when you’re applying the finish.

Step 2: Gear up

Wearing eye protection, rubber gloves, long pants and sleeves during application is recommended. Cover nearby plants as well.

Step 3: Apply the finish

After removing all furniture from the deck, start applying the finish using a mop or paint roller. Start in a corner and work your way toward a place where can easily exit the deck once you’re done. Use even strokes that overlap and pay attention to not letting the finish collect in one area. Apply a light even coat over the entire deck and check your work along the way.

Step 4: Be patient

Let the finish dry for at least one day before you move the furniture back and start enjoying your fresh, new deck.


If you didn't read our latest blog on cleaning your deck you can find it here.  Or check out our blog for more helpful information at


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