T Nation

Advice Staining/Sealing Cedar Deck

Hey guys,
I’ll let the cat out of the hat premature. I just bought a new house! woo hoo

? for you. Since I’m new to this home owner stuff. What do I do with my deck? Right now I am having a 12’x16’ cedar deck added on. It is pressure treated cedar.

How long after the deck is completed should I stain or seal it. Is stain and seal the same thing? What is the process? Anyone recommend any good stains / sealers? I’d like to keep the color of the wood as it is right now. a yellowish look.

Suggestions?

Well, to check to see if the deck is ready to accept stain/sealer is easy. Just dump a cup full of water on it. If it beads up, the deck isn’t ready; if it soaks in, the deck is ready.

As for stains or sealers, a stain is going to give you better UV protection, preventing the wood from “graying”. A stain will generally have more color to it than a sealer. Some sealers are clear, some have a little color. Don’t get Thompson’s, unless you want to redo it every year, and it will still turn gray (no UV protection). I believe Olympic (Lowe’s) still sells a 2 year clear sealer that has a UV protector in it. That seems like is may be what you are looking for:
http://www.lowes.com/lowes/lkn?action=productDetail&productId=194540-86-79030A/05&lpage=none

Go to Lowe’s or Depot and look at all the color samples. Get some different colors, and put them on an extra piece of scrap cedar, to get a good idea of the color. Once you find a color, use a thick roller to apply the stain to your deck, and get a brush to do the railing, etc.

Anything else?

I am an architect and carpenter on the side. If it is treated cedar, I usually recommend waiting a winter season. So if your just finishing it wait until next summer to stain it. Also, buy a few extra boards and keep them in you driveway for the winter. With out a doubt some of the boards that the installers put down will warp a bit and you will want to replace them. With the extra boards you will have wood aged in the same condiditon as the deck. In the summer power wash it with a wood cleaning product and apply your preferred stain.

As for stains–make sure it is UV rated. Also, most companies are making a combined stain and seals. I personally am a fan of Timber Pro products. When you see those pristine looking log cabins, this is the company they are using to stain and seal them. They make all sorts of stains and seals though. Typically you would only need the stain, but if you want that high gloss finish you can do a coat urethane to get it. I would just start witht the stain though.

Have fun! I love the look of cedar, but it is some high maintenance shit. If you do it wrong this year you at least get to try again next year, and the year after, and after, and after…

Get some of this stuff to clean and ‘treat’ the decking. http://www.rhinohide.com/ Then find what ever you like that has a ton of UV protectant. The UV is what does the damage. It doesn’t matter if its treated lumber or natural rot and decay resistant wood like cedar, redwood, or cypress.

I read that a lot of builders recommend waiting a year before staining the deck.

What is the disadvantage of staining the deck 1-2 months after its built?

I’ve heard lots of stories from people that waited 12 months to stain their deck and by that time the UV damage is apparent. And they all wish they would have stained right away.

[quote]MNguns wrote:
I read that a lot of builders recommend waiting a year before staining the deck.

What is the disadvantage of staining the deck 1-2 months after its built?

I’ve heard lots of stories from people that waited 12 months to stain their deck and by that time the UV damage is apparent. And they all wish they would have stained right away.[/quote]

Even if that’s the case, the wood is pretty resilient. A pressure washer will return the wood to its original color, or very close to it anyway. I’ve pressure washed decks that looked terrible from the UV damage. They looked almost new after the washing, and the owners were amazed how good it looked even before staining it. And that was just with water, no chemicals. Some of the stain/sealant manufacturers recommend pressure washing it prior to staining sealing as part of the prep instructions also.

I pressure washed and stained my 20’x40’ cedar deck a couple of summers ago. It took 3.5 days to do it all and it fucking sucked. This year, I removed my 20’x40’ cedar deck and had steps and a stone patio put in. No more maintenance! Yay me.

DB

Thanks guys.
But still cant find any reasons why not to stain it early?

What are the disadvantages of staining early?

The reason not to stain it before it weathers for a winter is that you CAN’T. Try it on a left over scrap piece and you’ll find that the chemicals in the wood are so oily that nothing will adhere to it. Preassure treated woods have to season before they can be finished.

BTW, congrats on your new home! I just bought a place a month ago too. I’ve decided on a heated tile floor for an outdoor living room/patio instead of a deck. A nice big BBQ grill/hearth and hot tub all covered by a classy pergola and I’ll be all set.

Except for the rest of the landscaping… and sprinkler system… and bathroom updates… and kitchen remodeling… and music studio… and basement woodshop…

… sigh …

[quote]MNguns wrote:
Thanks guys.
But still cant find any reasons why not to stain it early?

What are the disadvantages of staining early?[/quote]

The moisture content of the wood will be too high.

This is akin to the number one mistake most homeowners make when sealing a deck on their own. They pressure wash it one day, seal it the next or don’t allow adequate time after a rainfall before they seal.

Go here: http://www.nam.sikkens.com/

This will provide you with some initial information you need in regards to application. Click on their deck products, select one that has an application guide available and read it.

We own a side business that, among other things, refinishes decks and Sikkens is the only product we use.

You can get it at Hirschfields or Sherwin Williams.

Use Trex decking. Or, put in a paver patio instead of a deck. Both are much lower maintenance than cedar.

With cedar, plan on wasting 3-4 days every 2 years or so, refinishing the deck if you want it to look good. Identifying “quality” brands of refinishing does not guarantee a lasting finish. Each time I have stained a deck, I have used the best finish available. Some looked good for 3 years, some looked terrible after 1 season.

Again, Trex (or similar material) or paver patio. Skip the cedar.

[quote]MNguns wrote:
I read that a lot of builders recommend waiting a year before staining the deck.

What is the disadvantage of staining the deck 1-2 months after its built?

I’ve heard lots of stories from people that waited 12 months to stain their deck and by that time the UV damage is apparent. And they all wish they would have stained right away.[/quote]

You wait a year after installing a treated pine deck. 90% of the treated pine is delivered from the treating plant ‘wet’. Typically treated pine is not dried after treating (unless it is being exported). The treating process is done by vacuum infusing the treatment in the wood and vacuum sucking the remainder out. This leaves the wood in a state as if it was still ‘in the tree’

The waiting is to in essence let the wood ‘season’ or air dry.

Cedar typically has a low moisture point and is sold untreated. Most cedar is not kiln dried. It is swan and milled, because the natural moisture content of the wood is typically less than 20%. You should be able to stain and seal a cedar deck as soon as it is installed.