If you want your deck to last as long as possible and retain its natural beauty, consider adding a sealer to it. From protecting your wood to enhancing its grain, here are the main benefits of adding a sealer to your deck:
- Wood decks usually need only one to two coats of sealer.
- Sealing gives wood a beautiful, natural finish.
- Sealers enhance the wood’s natural grain and beauty.
- It’s possible to apply paint on top of sealers.
- Sealers protect wood from water and rot.
It's not required that you put a sealer over the stain on your deck, but adding a finish may add a useful extra layer of protection. However, the sealer should be applied properly by a professional who understands the interaction between it and the stain below. You don’t want your sealer to cause the stain to peel, so consult with a deck sealing professional first.
It depends on the climate, your deck’s age, its condition and the type of sealer you use. Some experts recommend adding a sealing product at least once a year, while others advise every three years. If your deck is frequently in hot, direct sunlight or harsh conditions like rain, high humidity or snow, you'll likely need to apply a seal at least once a year. Contact a deck sealing professional near you to find out if it’s time to re-seal your deck.
Whether you stain or seal your deck depends on what you are trying to achieve. Staining is ideal for those who want to protect their decks from water and UV rays but also desire a certain color. The downside of staining is that the color can quickly wear away on areas of high traffic. Sealers also protect against water, but they don’t penetrate the wood. If you’re stuck on whether you should apply stain or a sealer (or both), talk to a deck sealing professional in your area.
Many deck contractors, painters and construction services can seal your deck. The best way to find the right professional to seal your deck is by searching online. Because there’s a wide range of professionals who can seal decks, using online resources and an app (like Thumbtack) can help you quickly find the top-rated professionals in your area and compare them. Be sure to base your decision on customers’ ratings and reviews, paying particular attention to any customer-uploaded photographs of the pro’s work.
Preparing a deck for sealing involves using a number of different tools as well as knowing how to identify potential problem areas before moving forward — a process that’s as much experience as it is a skill. Sealing a deck involves a significant amount of effort, materials and time, making it a great job for a professional.
The process typically involves repairing the deck, pressure washing and scrubbing it, sanding it down, letting it dry and sealing it — all at the correct pressure, temperature and humidity.
The best sealer for a deck is one that can protect it against the elements, repel water and show off your deck’s natural beauty and grain. Water-based sealers are common among deck owners and more environmentally friendly. Oil-based sealers tend to be more durable and last longer.
Clear deck sealers bring out your wood’s grain but don’t block UV rays, making the best choice for a deck sealer is one that inhibits UV through chemicals and colors. The best balance usually comes from a semi-transparent sealer.
Yes, you’ll likely need to sand your deck before applying a sealer. The reason for this is related to pressure washing. When you run a pressure washer over wood, it causes very small fibers to separate and rise off of the wood’s surface. Step on these once it’s dried out and you’ll get splinters — which is where sanding comes in. Sanding your deck after you pressure wash it ensures you will have a smooth surface that’s not only comfortable but ready to accept the sealant.
Wait until the wood is free of moisture before you seal it. This could take a few weeks, a month or several months — it all depends on the wood, the climate and other factors. Chat with a deck sealing professional near you. They should be able to examine your deck, test it for moisture and help you determine how many more days or weeks you should wait before sealing it.
First, conduct an online search so you can see a list of the best deck contractors in your area. This makes it easy to compare the top-rated pros, and you can quickly view their ratings.
Next, click on several contractors’ profiles so you can read their customer reviews and view photos of decks the pros have completed. When reading the reviews, look for information that highlights the contractors’ quality of work, their ability to build the deck on time and their pricing methods. As you’re looking at the before-and-after photos of completed decks, pay attention to the craftsmanship, materials and style so you can get a sense of the contractors’ skills and experience.
After identifying several deck contractors who seem capable of building your deck, look into their credentials. Confirm the requirements in your state and city, and try to verify the pros’ licenses online. Or, you can ask the contractors to provide you with an overview of their credentials.
Your last step: start asking for free estimates from several contractors. Give them as many details about your project as possible so the pros can give you an accurate estimate. What type of material do you want for your deck? How big will it be? Where should it be built — your front yard or backyard? When do you need it built?
Make your final decision after comparing quotes and analyzing the research you’ve conducted. Ultimately, you should pick a contractor who has experience building your desired deck, the necessary qualifications, mostly positive reviews and fair pricing.