How to protect your deck to keep it lasting longer

(BPT) – If you have a deck, it’s probably one of your favorite — and most used — spaces, especially when it’s warm outside. But time, usage and weather can all take their toll on your family hangout spot. The good news is, even if you’re a novice DIYer, it’s easy to protect your deck and keep it looking great in just a few simple steps, and doing the job yourself can save money and help you avoid more work on it in the future.

Now is a great time to clean, stain and seal your deck. Here’s how to ensure the job is done well.

1. Check your deck

When was the last time you assessed the condition of your deck? Look for issues like dirt, mildew, algae or old stain coating that’s peeling — plus damaged, cracked or warped wood that may need to be replaced.

Try the “splash test” — splash a little water on the deck and watch how quickly the water is absorbed. If the water is rapidly absorbed into the wood, that means it’s no longer protected from the elements and needs attention.

2. Clean it up

While you might be tempted to rent a power washer to clean your deck, it’s not recommended, as power washing can damage wood — especially if you’re inexperienced in using this tool. Instead, choose a deck cleaner designed specifically to clean decks in preparation for staining and sealing.

If you see dirt and stains but no coating peeling off, an exterior cleaner like Thompson’s WaterSeal Heavy Duty Deck Cleaner will work on any type of wood. If you see old peeling coating, however, Thompson’s WaterSeal Maximum Strength Deck Stripper is the strongest option to help remove old stain.

Make sure to follow the instructions on whatever product you use for cleaning your deck, and don’t forget the rails or benches. If you have several boards that vary in color, a solid color stain would get you a more consistent color, transparent stains will show more wood grain, and semi-transparent stains add more color and protection while keeping some of the wood grain visible.

3. Refresh and protect

Once your deck is cleaned, you can start to envision the effect you want. Would you like to see more natural wood grain, a little grain, or almost none? Design experts often choose a dark or light deck color to provide a strong contrast to the color of the home’s exterior. You can also use different color stain on the railings and benches of your deck for visual interest. If you’re unsure what look you want, try a small sample area first to see how it appears once the stain is dry.

To make staining and protecting your deck easier, Thompson’s WaterSeal products provide year-round protection in just one coat — with specialized water-beading formulas to help prevent water damage. Choose from four stain and wood sealer products depending on the look you want: Clear Wood Sealer shows all wood grain, Transparent Wood Sealer shows the most wood grain, Semi-Transparent Wood Sealer shows some wood grain and Solid Color Wood Sealer shows little wood grain.

Measuring your deck, including railings and benches, helps you determine the amount of stain you’ll need. Read the product instructions carefully before using. You’ll find useful information including weather guidelines and recommended temperature ranges for application. For example, it’s best to avoid windy and rainy days as well as high temps when your deck boards are very hot.

Also check product labels for recommended wait times between cleaning and staining. Thompson’s WaterSeal Wood Sealers require waiting 48 hours before applying deck coating.

4. Maintain your beautiful new deck

To help ensure that your deck stays looking great even longer, keep your deck free of leaves, dust, dirt and snow. Visually check your deck for trouble spots and do the “splash test” every year, so it will stay in good condition as long as possible.

Using these tips, you should be able to protect and revitalize your deck so you and your family can continue enjoying it for years to come.

Pro tip: You can seal and protect other surfaces in your outdoor space beyond decks and fences, including concrete and stone patio pavers, using products like Thompson’s Multi-Surface Waterproofer.

Ready to get started? Learn more about how to protect your deck at


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