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The Truth About Deck Maintenance

By Guest Post

Mike’s Advice / Exterior Renovation & Landscape Construction

Tuesday, September 25th, 2018 @ 2:59pm
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Article By: Terry Owen, The Wood Surgeon,

After maintenance… a realistic view

I know what you are thinking and it’s time for the million dollar question I’m always asked. “Terry…how long will this protection last?” Well it’s been close to a decade and hundreds of projects of all kinds and I can safely say that the only honest and educated answer to that question is …..I don’t know. Any contractor that hands out a guarantee on this hasn’t done enough of these or is just facilitating the sale of his/her services. You see, Mother Nature controls this process and until we can control her, it’s out of our control. Factors like southern all day sun exposure, heavy rainy season and crazy winters to mention a few come in to play. The best protection for your deck is a roof but because we can’t all have roofs over our deck I will tell you this. The thicker the stain, the longer it lasts. That means solid stain is the best protection for your outdoor wooden structure because it has the most pigmentation (colour) and takes longer for the sun’s U.V. rays to beat it up and allow the moisture in.

It usually comes down to an aesthetics VS. maintenance debate for natural wood grain appreciators who want lower maintenance.  What I suggest to them is solid colour on the horizontals because they take the brunt of the elements and foot traffic and natural wood grain on the verticals because they retain their protection longer and are easier to maintain. This way you can have the best of both worlds. More and more we are resurfacing client’s deck floors with low maintenance materials such as composite. It costs more but knowing that your maintenance has been reduced to a simple cleaning is priceless to a lot of homeowners.

Translucent stain is beautiful to a wood fan but it’s very thin and a labour of love that requires an anti-mildew treatment and additional coat every year. I would say the same for semi-transparent because it is not much thicker. Solid stain after the second season should have an additional maintenance coat regardless of what promises the manufacturer makes on the can.

The after maintenance can be the most frustrating part of this process, watching all that hard work go for not…but it doesn’t have to be that way. We all make the same mistakes; we put our deck maintenance on a schedule “every two years I’m going to do this deck”. The problem with that is Mother Nature does not understand schedules and goes about her business without you. The 2nd mistake we make is looking out our kitchen window at our deck and say to ourselves “hmm still brown (or blue or whatever colour it is) I can probably get another season out of it”. Just remember that there is decay that can’t you can’t see with the untrained eye.


Here is the most important information you need in order to properly maintain your structure:


  1. Periodically give your deck a light cleaning with a mild soap and your garden hose.
  2. You need to apply a maintenance coat of stain before the grey reappears. If grey comes back, it needs to be sanded and your structure is a do over. If we tackle it before the grey hits, it just requires an anti-mildew treatment with a mop and your hose (not a heavy power wash) and a coat of stain.
  3. Most importantly, how we determine it’s time for a maintenance coat is very simple; stick your nose to the window when it’s raining and watch it hit your deck. If the water beads and pools for long periods of time, you still have protection, no beads means that it’s time for a maintenance coat.


There is more information on this subject but hopefully this will clear some things up for you and help you to make clear decisions when planning and maintaining your outdoor living space. Learn more at


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