The Best Way to Go about Staining Your Deck or Fence

Wondering if you should stain your deck or fence?

In this post: protecting your deck and fence against the elements | staining your deck

Spring is here, which means that summer is knocking on our big Texas door! Texans not only love their hot spicy food, but we also prefer a hot summer day over “Texas Winter.”

We would rather deal with our scorching leather seats, sunburns, AND $300 electricity bills, than shoveling snow, chopping wood, or wearing four layers of clothes because we have to. 

A day in the life of a tried-and-true Texas homeowner

From March to September, you can find most of us sipping margaritas poolside to keep ourselves cool and the kids busy. While we’re outside, we start noticing that our ginormous decks and six-foot privacy fences that we haven’t stained in five-plus years are starting to look decrepit (ay, ya, yai…!). We keep wondering why our kids are crying over splinters on their feet and now we’re worried if we’re going to be fence shamed by the HOA. (Tunnn…tun…TUNNNNN!). 

Protecting your deck and fence against the elements

staining your deck | staining your fence

What do you do? First.  Google. Then you make the appointment with one of your top three choices. You finally meet up with the painter and ask that your deck and fence be stained. You explain it’s been five years since it was stained last, and now you want the deck and fence to look exactly like the day they were installed. 

Bahahaha!!! Excuse me, wha…t? 

This is like asking an esthetician to take all your wrinkles away in one visit after spending 100 straight days sunbathing with baby oil on your face. C’mon, let’s be real. Just like skin, wood also goes through a photo-oxidation process where UV light changes or destroys the wood’s lignin (a component of wood that hardens and strengthens the cell walls). Once the lignin is changed, the wood is compromised and starts to shrink, dry up, wrinkle (ringing any bells?). So, what do we do now?

Staining and protecting your deck and fence against the elements

Take your time, do it right.

If you’re staining your deck and fence want it looking brand new, then you’ll have to replace the comprised boards. If you’re willing to salvage them (which is the environmentally friendly thing to do), then here’s a good process to follow:

1 Pressure wash the wood with a proper cleaning agent; Sherwin Williams has a great product called SuperDeck Revive Deck and Siding Brightener.  This deck wash will restore the beauty and color of the wood, up to a certain point. Depending on how badly the wood is comprised, some sanding can be involved to smooth out any rough edges (this service will probably add cost to the prep process).

I’d like to make myself clear; if you have boards that are so wrinkled up, dried o0ut, and look like the butt of a cigarette, there isn’t enough deck brightener or stain to give that wood any renewal of life. Glad I got that off my chest. 

2 Then we go into staining the deck. Such an easy process, right? NOOOOO! Absolutely, unforgettably NOT! Your deck and fence have now been exposed to so many environmental factors and your stain has worn off differently throughout.

It’s a natural response for customers wanting the professional to figure it out and match the stain, but matching stain is like picking the only good apple in a bucket of rotten ones. So, what do we advise our fellow Texans who are re-staining a surface? 

Staining your deck and fence

Well, it’s not an easy answer.  The purpose of the stain is not just aesthetics, it’s to provide UV protection against the sun (kind of like sunscreen). There are different levels of opacity when it comes to stains—they range from translucent, transparent, semi-transparent, semi-solid, and solid.

Continuing with the sunscreen analogy, we could say that the SPFs for each level would be approximately SPF 4, SPF8, SPF20, SPF50, and SPF 80, respectively. So, the opaquer the stain is, the more protection your wood gets. The downside? If you’re one of those people who really likes seeing the wood grain, then you’ll have to outweigh the differences between aesthetics or protection. 

Now…If you’re asking me (a fellow Texan) I’ll always go with protection. This Texas sun is too brutal to use an SPF20, 365 days/year.  Besides, you can choose Benjamin Moore’s ArborCoat Solid Stain or Sherwin Williams Deck and Dock Coating and tint it to whatever color your little heart desires. So if you’re looking to break away from all the shades of brownish, this could be a great option for you and wood projects.

~ Ellie Ziebell


Looking to update your fence or deck?

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