Annual Cleaning – Get out your knee pads and painter’s 5-in-1 and start removing debris from between each deck board! It’s a tedious task, but if you want to get the most out of your deck, don’t neglect this step. Once you’ve removed all debris, you can use a mild detergent specifically formulated for deck maintenance to remove dirt and other nasties that collected over the previous year. Make sure to thoroughly rinse with LOW pressure! You don’t want to inadvertently damage your deck.
Snow Removal — Don’t let snow accumulate on your deck or other horizontal surfaces! Snow is a deck stain’s worst enemy. Even if the snow looks fluffy on top, the lower layer is melting, seeping into the wood’s end grain and other areas not fully protected. Once the water is in the wood, it can push on the stain from the inside, causing the stain to lift. You can clean your deck with a leaf blower or broom for the best results. Shovels can cause damage, so be careful!
Bi/Annual Maintenance – Don’t wait until your deck and siding is showing obvious signs of wear. Give us a call to come inspect your deck and siding annually and address concerns before they become a problem! Our expert eyes can spot things that the average homeowner can’t no matter how many YouTube videos they’ve watched!
Wood Deck and Siding Maintenance
To the average homeowner (and even some painting contractors) exterior wood and deck care is an afterthought. It’s a great mystery that no one thinks about until it’s usually too late. Luckily for you, there are some things that can be done each year to preserve your siding, trim, fences, decks, and other wood features of your home. Depending on the aesthetic and maintenance level you desire, we can apply anything from clear toners – which bring out the natural tones of wood – to solid bodied stain and paint which obscures the variations and character of wood while offering enhanced protection. There are different reasons you would want to use each product as we will discuss here.
Challenges in Wood Deck and Siding Maintenance
The biggest challenges with exterior wood care in Central Oregon are dealing with all that sunshine and moisture. With 300 days of sunshine brings with it a ton of UV rays which leads to the breakdown of lignin in exterior wood products. You can think of lignin as the “glue” that holds wood fibers together. As the UV pounds the surface of your beautiful deck or siding, it eats away at the lignin – resulting in gray, weathered wood that sloughs off the surface. If you see natural wood coloration showing through your deck or siding, you can determine that the lignin has been decaying for some time and it is overdue for application of your choice protective coating.
Moisture is another contributing factor to wood decay in Central Oregon. You’re probably thinking to yourself, “Moisture? In Bend?!” I know, right… We have a very special type of moisture here that does incredible damage to exterior decks and siding – snow. Moisture is carried by snowstorms and lands on horizontal surfaces like roofs and deck handrails where it sits until it melts. While the water is melting, any unprotected wood is being saturated with water. As the temperature swings lower overnight, that water freezes and expands, causing outward forces that crack and damage your deck, trim, siding, and doors. Each year this process is repeated until adequate protection is applied. A rather frustrating fact about moisture protection is that regardless of the coatings we apply, “there is no way to completely eliminate the changing moisture content of wood in response to changing relative humidities. The coating simply slows up the rate at which the wood changes moisture content”, according to the USDA Forest Service. Without any form of “complete elimination” of moisture, it is that much more important to stay up on maintenance coats.
How often should you stain your deck and siding?
Re-application of stain after proper prep should occur depending on several factors. Not only does the type of wood come into play but also the UV exposure, whether it is installed vertical or horizontal, the type of stain used, and the amounts of pigment in the stain.
Transparent Coatings (every year)
While film forming clears like varnish, urethanes, and lacquers are not generally recommended for decks and siding, clear toner or transparent stains are coatings that can be applied to wood without losing its natural characteristics. They do not form a film and have very fine pigments that help block UV rays. Transparent stains require annual maintenance coats.
Semi-Transparent Coatings (every 2-3 years)
These coatings contain more pigment than transparent coatings and allow for deeper color development. There is no surface film left behind and the added benefit is enhanced UV protection. The more pigment the better in terms of UV protection. Maintenance coats need to be applied every 2-3 years.
Semi-Solid Coatings (every 2-4 years)
Semi-solid coatings are also known as semi-opaque. The pigment content is increased again over semi-transparent stains. The high concentration of pigment helps block UV rays even further while allowing minimal grain characteristics to show through. You can expect 2-4 years out of a semi-solid coating.
Solid Coatings (every 5-7 years)
Think paint. None of the wood characteristics will show through the coating other than the wood texture. Variances in color are only visible due to shadows cast by the surface profile differences in the wood. This stain offers the best protection against the sun while still allowing the wood to breathe and moisture to evaporate through the pigments left on the surface. This stain does form a film that can be peeled if not properly applied. Just like paint, you can expect 5-7 years of life out of solid stain.
In summary, Central Oregon is exceptionally tough on wood. With the right knowledge and toolset, it is possible for the DIYer to complete a wood refinish job, but it requires determination and grit to get it done! Staining is one of the jobs most painters dislike the most because of the mess an inexperienced user can make. If you’re going to get into a deck refinishing job yourself, I hope you gained some knowledge here to help you tackle that big deck job.
If you decide to hire a pro, I hope you’ll give Rise Painting a call so we can come take a look at your project and get you the help you need.