With wood decks maintenance is vital to the structural integrity of the wood. Cleaning, prepping and staining a deck are the 3 main keys to deck care. With any deck stain, including TWP the prep work is crucial. No matter how superior the deck stain is it will not perform properly or give you the results you expect if the wood is not prepped correctly. The following is a TWP guide to prepping a deck that has never been stained or currently has TWP stain already on the wood. If you have a stain of a different brand, you will need to remove it with a stain stripper. See this for more info Switching to TWP Stains.
Cleaning the Deck
Prior to staining with TWP the deck needs to be cleaned thoroughly to allow for proper stain penetration. Use a quality wood cleaner like the oxygenated cleaner Gemini Restore-A-Deck. These types of cleaners are safer on the wood than bleach based cleaners and will effectively remove dirt, mold, mildew and grayed wood fibers. It is important to get back down to clean bare wood. Apply the wood cleaner as suggested by the label instructions. Let the cleaner dwell and soften up the pollutants before using a scrub brush or performing a light pressure washing.
If an old failing stain is present it must be removed. A wore down semi-transparent stain may clean off with an oxygenated cleaner. If the old stain is stubborn then you might have to use a wood deck stain stripper instead of a cleaner. Once the pollutants and any remnants of old stain are gone the deck should look new again.
Using a Deck Brightener
A deck brightener, also called a neutralizer is the next step after cleaning. Because the cleaners and/or strippers are caustic in nature they need to be neutralized. Apply the deck brightener immediately after cleaning and according to the directions. Then allow it to dwell for several minutes before rinsing off with water. This will lower the pH level of the wood and make the wood grain “pop”. This acidic nature of the wood surface will allow TWP stain to dive deep into the wood and result in a more professional like finish.
After cleaning and brightening the deck it needs to dry prior to staining. With a moisture meter you want 15% or less moisture content before applying stain. If you do not have a meter, typically 1-2 days of dry weather is adequate time for the wood to dry completely. Now the deck is ready for TWP stain. Following this TWP guide to prepping a deck will ensure the stain lasts longer, enhances the appearance and performs as expected.