Why Do Decks Need To Be Maintained?
Wood weathers and decomposes due to many elements. The two main elements that cause damage to exterior wood are moisture (caused from rain, dew, etc.) and ultraviolet rays from the sun. Other common factors are traffic, location and temperature.
All these factors contribute to the degradation of the wood’s lignin, which is a glue-like substance that holds wood together. When lignin begins to break down it will cause splitting, checking, raised grain and, most obvious, discoloration of wood.
Mildew growth along with the cellulose left as the lignin degrades leads to a surface that is gray in color. Loose fibers on the surface need to be removed before the deck is stained, otherwise the hard work of staining the deck will simply seal in the discolored and weathered-looking wood.
Choosing The Right Stain
The vast array of stains and sealers on the market today fall into three main categories: Solid, semi-transparent and transparent.
Solid stains are film-forming stains that actually lay on top of the wood. Solid stains, like all stains and sealers, will breakdown over time. Beyond fading, the effects of the sun along with excess moisture will cause solid stains to peel and chip. A main benefit of a solid coating is that it can be applied over other finishes and will make the deck look uniform. The covering of the wood grain and the tendency to peel is often undesirable.
Semi-Transparent stains are the most popular, enhancing the grain of the wood. This type of finish will slowly fade over time as opposed to peeling. A good oil based semi transparent finish will soak into the wood and will provide an even finish. Over time, the coating will fade out, requiring a wash and recoat. It is important not to overapply the coating.
Transparent Tones are lighter than semi transparent finishes and give the wood a slight tone for UV protection. The advantage of the tones is that they are lightly pigmented, making future maintenance coats very simple. The disadvantage is that they don’t last as long as the semi-transparent coatings.
Armstrong Clark Stains
Penetrating transparent and semi-transparent stains contain pigments and oils that do not form a surface. Our recommended stain is Armstrong Clark. Armstrong’s formula is a combination of oils that gives the user two layers of protection.
Armstrong Clark finishes have non-drying conditioning oils that separate from the drying side of the formula. These oils penetrate deep into the wood fiber where the wood’s natural oils used to be. This process rejuvenates the wood. The drying oils stay at the surface, lock in the conditioning oils, and create a barrier that is dry to the touch.
Armstrong Clark can be applied in direct sunlight. Applications are for all new, old, pressure treated and cedar wood surfaces such as: decks, siding, shakes and shingles, fences and log homes where color retention, water repellency and wood conditioning is the desired goal.
Why use a Wood Brightener?
All wood surfaces should have a neutral pH balance before any stain is applied. Using wood cleaners and strippers will alter the pH, and require the use of a brightener to restore the wood to its neutral state. By applying a wood brightener, a neutral environment is created on the wood surface. This helps to open up the wood pores and lighten the wood. The result is a “brand new wood” look that is always desired.
The longevity of the stain is directly proportional to the surface preparation. Achieving a neutral surface through the use of a wood brightener will ensure the best results for the staining process. Using a wood brightener is always recommended anytime a cleaning or stripping agent is used.
We are pleased to offer our deck clean and stain services in the areas of Fenton, Linden, Grand Blanc, Hartland, Brighton, & Swartz Creek.
If you would like more information, simply fill out our request service information form.