Painting, staining, or sealing: Which decking solution is right for you?

Painting, staining, or sealing: Which decking solution is right for you?Our decks are havens during the warmer months. Spots to lounge with a book, relax with a cold drink, or enjoy a BBQ with good friends.

But nothing distracts you from a fun afternoon like an eyesore of a deck that’s chipped and peeling. Maybe it’s been like that for a few years, and you’re just used to it — but it’s never too late to address the problem and give your deck a much-needed makeover.

  • Start by determining the age of your deck:You know how younger people can get away with wearing less makeup? The same goes with decks, in most cases. A brand-new deck, for example, looks stunning with transparent stain (sealer), because you can still see the beautiful wood train while keeping it protected from moisture and sun damage.
  • Choose the proper type of coverage:Semi-transparent stain still allows wood grain to show through, it comes in a variety of colours, and it will slowly fade away over time. A semi-solid stain has more pigment and lasts longer, but it’s made with latex so it chips and peels over time. A solid stain gives you the look of paint and lasts the longest, but it also chips and peels away like paint. Most experts recommend not using traditional paint on the horizontal surfaces of a deck, because it doesn’t absorb into the wood like stain does. You can, however, use paint on vertical surfaces like posts and railings.
  • Select a colour:Some people love the look of an all-white deck, some prefer a dark natural-looking stain, and others like to pick an accent colour to coordinate with their house. All of those shades of brown might start to blend together as you stand in the aisle trying to choose, so it might help to look at pictures of other houses and see what you like. Remember that darker stains make your deck retain heat, so it will be hot on the toes if you’re out there sunbathing.
  • Prepare the deck:If you’re contending with old flaking, peeling stain or paint, the first step is to remove. This often requires a bit of sanding or scraping — and a lot of elbow grease — but it’s necessary in order to start with a clean slate. An electric sander will be your best friend! Once the old stain or paint is removed, use a deck-cleaning product to prepare the wood — and ask one of our experts if you should also be pre-treating the wood.
  • Consider a dark-stain trick:If you love the look of dark stain, but you’re worried about how it will hold up underfoot, you might want to try the banded look. Stain the railings dark, and tape off a two-foot band around the outside of your deck surface to stain dark, too. Then stain the inside of the band a lighter shade. The majority of your deck surface will be light — which holds up better to foot traffic — but you’ll still get the drama of dark stain on the railings and around the perimeter.

Make your risers pop: Since risers don’t need to stand up to foot traffic, you have more flexibility with colours and products. If you’re using dark stain on the deck surface and steps, it looks great when you paint your risers white or cream — or any other light colour that will provide contrast. If you have light-stained surfaces, try dark risers for added interest.

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