When the deck construction is complete, the next step is to apply finish on the deck so that it will weather well and stay in great condition for many years. An outdoor deck is constantly at the mercy of the natural environment such as water, pollution, wind, heat dust and human activities which may destroy the condition of the wood.
The best way to protect our investment is to paint the deck, stain the bottom of the deck and taking additional measures to keep the wood looking beautiful and glowing.
There are two categories of deck finishes: sealers and stains. Clear sealers have no pigments in them while stains have a variety of pigments which may change the appearance of the wood. Stains may vary from light pigmentation (barely noticeable) to semitransparent or solid colours.
Advantages of finishes:
- Defends wood from external pollutants
- Shields wood from humidity
- Guards the wood from attack by mildew
- Protects the wood from ultraviolet rays
- Retains the colour and texture of wood
- Keeps the wood shining and spiffy
There is a large variety in wood sealants. Many of them are based on natural oils while a few avoid the oils and prefer synthetic sealers. Oil based finishes are believed to penetrate deeper into the wood to give long lasting resistance to damage. However, oil based sealers may attract insects, algae and mildew which slowly destroy the finish a little at a time. When the finish is removed, the wood starts to decay or disintegrate.
For this reason, many people prefer to protect the wood with clear epoxy sealants. Since this sealer does not contain any oils, algae and mildew will not grow on it. One of the colourless chemicals in the clear epoxy sealer deflects ultraviolet light while the other absorbs it.
One of the advantages of clear finishes is that they display the natural grain of the wood. The clarity also prevents lap marks during application of the finish. The UV inhibitors in these clear finishes may break down and leave the wood unprotected. This will require frequent applications of the finish, as often as every year. The optimal solution for finished is to get a light pigment finish with UV protection so that the wood is displayed in its natural colour while the UV rays are prevented from damaging it.
Directions to apply sealer on the deck:
- Cover the area surrounding the deck with cloths. This may include things near it or the grass, pots, bushes, carpet, pool, plants, etc.
- Make sure that the weather stays sunny and dry
- When applying the sealer, use a good quality sprayer so that the wood is thoroughly and evenly covered.
- Follow instructions on the sealant container.
- Slowly move the sprayer back and forth so that the application goes smoothly.
- Use a small brush to even out any nicks, bubbles or puddles.
- Brush any thick splotches evenly.
- Allow the sealant to dry very well before using the deck
The sealant may take about 45 minutes to set well. Do not walk on the deck, but inspect the deck by walking around and apply more sealer with a brush if it is necessary. It takes about 48 hours for the deck to dry well enough for regular foot traffic.