How to Clean, Prep and Coat Wooden Decks and Fences

Know the right steps to prepping your deck

How to Clean, Prep and Coat Wooden Decks and Fences

Painting the fence or deck not only looks good, but it also provides protection against the elements. Without protection, direct exposure to the sun can bleach fences and decks and cause it to weather, giving the wood a worn gray look. Rainwater can cause the wood to splinter and crack. It can also lead to the growth of mold, mildew, algae or fungus, which can cause the wood to decay.

Cleaning Your Deck or Fence

Cleaning Your Deck or Fence

The first step to properly coat a deck or fence is to clean the surface. Knowing how to clean a fence or deck properly is essential to remove mildew to allow for maximum adhesion to the wood. If the surface is not cleaned or dried properly, there may be a drastic difference in color. The next step is to repair any structural damage and replace any missing or damaged screws and nails.

When cleaning the wood, use a cleaner like PPG deck and fence cleaner which will penetrate into the wood and lift the dirt, which can then be easily be rinsed away. Spray the cleaner and lightly scrub with an upright brush like the Worchester Workhorse pole-mounted brush. Many contractors like to use a pressure washer for the ease and speed of cleaning, but that is not necessary when using the PPG deck cleaner. Take precautions when using a pressure washer as it can damage the wood.

Testing The Wear Of The Wood

Testing The Wear Of The Wood

If you do have an old coat of paint or solid color stain, you’ll want to use the tape peel test to determine if the wood needs to be stripped before applying the new coat of paint or stain. First, use a putty knife or sharp object to cut an “x” in two or three spots on the surface and be careful not to cut into the wood and leave a mark. Cover your “x” with duct tape, firmly press down and then quickly pull off. If any flakes are stuck on the tape, then your wood needs to be stripped. To remove an old coat of paint or stain, make sure the surface is dry, test a small area on the surface to ensure adhesion, and then apply the stain stripper where the paint or stain needs to be removed. You may need to scrub with a stiff bristle brush or scrape in the direction of the wood to get the paint to lift off. Rinse the area thoroughly, once the surface is dry, sand it with an 80 to 100 grit sandpaper to ensure the new paint will properly adhere.

Water Absorption Test

Water Absorption Test

How to know if the wood is ready to be stained once it has been cleaned and stripped? Do a water absorption test to see if the wood will absorb the stain. To perform this test, pour a cup of water on the wood and wait for ten minutes to see if the water has absorbed. If the water beads up, then the surface is not porous enough. If the water darkens the wood, then the surface is ready to be coated. Use a stain that protects against mildew and mold growth.

How To Paint a Fence or Deck

How To Paint a Fence or Deck

Using a brush like the Worchester Bravo 4 and ¾ stain brush, start with the spindles while working your way down the decking maintaining a wet edge at all times to avoid lap marks. An airless sprayer like the Graco 390 or 395 can be used to spray on the stain because it provides pressure control that delivers a consistent spray fan without pressure fluctuation. You may also roll on the stain, but no matter which method is used, always back brush the stain into the wood for maximum penetration. Do not apply the stain in direct sunlight, as it will cause the stain to dry too quickly. The stain should be dry to the touch in two hours.
Wait overnight before putting furniture back on the deck.
Knowing how to clean a fence or deck will ensure proper adhesion. Likewise, knowing how to paint a fence or deck will ensure proper protection and will add a beautiful look to wood. Many homeowners are looking to redefine their yards into active family living spaces. Fence and deck services are a great way to add additional services to your customers and help the homeowners achieve the space they desire.
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