Deck Cleaning, Staining and Sealing
I use a mineral oil based stain/sealer as my preferred method. Did you know mineral oil is the main ingredient in Baby Oil? Not only is it safe and environmentally friendly, but this oil seeps deep into your wood sealing, moisturizing and protecting your wood. There is another component that forms a light film near the surface of the wood and contains the pigments and resins which protect your wood from UV rays and give it a natural tinted look which to appeal to your personal taste.
Before the stain/sealer is applied the wood must first be properly cleaned. This is true anytime you paint or stain outdoor wood surfaces. The cleaners are alkaline as most cleaners are and raise the pH of the wood. This darkens the wood and must be neutralized in order for the wood to properly receive the stain/sealer. Not neutralizing the wood properly will shorten the life of the stain/sealer and/or cause peeling and flaking depending on what type is used. Without the use of proper cleaners the person or persons performing this task with a pressure washer are likely to gradually if not immediately become compelled to apply too much pressure which will damage the wood. The damage even if not noticed at first is from the hydraulic pressure pulling the fibers of the wood apart. This will fray the wood, cause splinters or even widen cracks in the wood. Proper cleaning methods allow the wood to be deeply cleaned with use of little or no pressure. When choosing a deck staining contractor look for someone who does it regularly. There are still many amateur power washers who will venture into deck staining and it is not affordable to fix there mistakes once they apply a deck stain designed to last up to 30 years. These are extreme circumstances, but I do get 3-5 calls per year where these mistakes have occurred and the contractor was not able to correct them. The cost to correct these problems have many times been compared to total replacement of the deck with the exception of painting over the wood grain which is usually the opposite of what home owners wanted.
With any deck maintenance system the guarantee is always protection over appearance. Having a 30 year deck stain turn ugly after 3 years may not be what you had in mind, but is a real possibility. I use 30 as an example because who wouldn’t want a beautiful maintenance free deck for 30 years? The truth is with the system I have chosen you will get the best looking deck for the longest period of time and it is the easiest to maintain, which leaves you with less maintenance cost over time.