All Hands on Deck
Now that winter is over, your wood deck undoubtedly needs a little TLC—or maybe a lot. We asked how to proceed
Sweep and scrub.
Clear away debris caught between boards. Protect siding and plantings with plastic sheeting, then use a garden sprayer to apply a deck cleaner with oxygen bleach (sodium percarbonate). Scrub off mold and stains; rinse.
Check the finish.
If water beads for 10 minutes, you’re done. If the water is absorbed in certain areas, brush on a finish that matches what is there. Make sure to wipe up glossy spots where the new finish doesn’t penetrate. You might find that you don’t need to coat the entire deck; over time, touch-ups will dull and blend in.
Starting from scratch?
Look for a finish that penetrates the wood; oil-based ones do that best. (Finishes that create a film, like solid stains and varnishes, eventually peel.) Then decide how much color you want. Clear sealers are easiest to apply but offer no UV protection. Tinted toners contain transparent pigments that block UV rays and let the wood grain show. Semitransparent stains hide more of the grain, protect against UV rays, and offer the widest range of colors.