You can seal your deck, porch or patio at almost any time of year – spring, summer or fall. But autumn provides a particularly suitable tome to apply a fresh coat of sealant. This is partly because fall usually offers long stretches of dry weather, but also because sealing your wood at this time will give it the best protection against harsh winter weather.
Deck sealant does for your wood what sunscreen does for your skin: protecting it from the damaging effects of the sun’s UV light. Sealant also protects from water damage of course, and fortunately, unlike sunscreen, you won’t have to reapply every time the sun comes out. Once every three to five years usually does the trick.
The first step is to inspect your deck to assess its overall condition. Rotted or damaged boards and posts can eventually lead to structural problems and they should be replaced. Check the nails to see if any of them have popped up, and pound any pop-ups you find back into place.
You will also need to clean your deck before you can seal it, and there’s no getting around this step. Cleaning should start with sweeping off leaves, twigs and loose debris, but it shouldn’t end there. Be sure to check the gaps between the boards, where leaves will gather and rot. Clean these spaces out with a putty knife.
Once your deck is swept off, use a deck cleaner to thoroughly clean the surface of the wood. A wide variety of products are available for this job, but a solution of bleach and water is also effective. Depending on the size of your deck, it may be more efficient to scrub by hand or use a power washer. Choose a time to do this when you know you will have several days of dry weather ahead. Wash with the cleaner, let it sit for a while, then rinse your deck off with clean water and let it dry.
Once the wood has dried completely, you can apply sealant. What you use to seal your deck is entirely up to you. Options include tinted waterproofer, clear water sealer, solid stains, semi-transparent stains and waterproof paint. Whatever you choose, a few days of work should protect your deck for years to come.