Protect new deck until able to stain in Spring…
Hi, also a newbie here, and all apologies for the novel, I just really want to do things right, not the slapdash, cheap and easy way.
I have a new deck being installed, as we go into colder weather. Ideally, this would have been done in the proper weather, long story, has to be now. Contractors have delayed and caused damage that needs to be fixed, further delaying the install. It’s an investment, and I had planned to use the best possible stain to best care for the wood, and to keep from having to re-apply it for a long time, as we all do. It’s cedar, clear (if they kept their word, it’s not yet delivered), will have powder-coated aluminum balusters, and the rest will be the cedar. The problem is protecting it from harsh winter and moisture. It’s too late to stain it, we are into the 40’s and 50’s in daytime weather, and overnight is near or below freezing. The contractor says no worries, just pressure wash (an extra, but of course necessary task, plus I think a cleaner would likely also be necessary, there will be mud, and I’ll not let anyone go salting it or putting any chemicals on it. I will have to shovel and I have coconut mats I can use for added safety.) in Springtime, and he says all will be fine. A pressure wash will raise the grain, and then I’ll need to sand, and then I have aluminum balusters to avoid, and a mess.
So, I was hoping to get some professional, &/or “I did it this way and this is how well it did or did not work” advice from anyone who has been down this road. What NOT to do is every bit as important as what TO do. I’m more than appreciative to learn from other’s mistakes and experiments. I would like to use a semi-transparent stain; the wood ordered is supposed to be center cut and clear. On my previous deck, no matter what I did to carefully prepare the wood, everything peeled almost immediately. No product netted a good result, and I’ve since forgotten all the things I tried. I don’t know what type of wood it was, it was here when I moved in. I’m assuming likely it was redwood.
So my questions are, what can I do to best protect the wood until what will be May or possibly June before we have assured good weather (it will rain and snow a great deal until then, with plenty of semi-sunny days but they will be too cold, and I will want the wood to be very dry, so I’d very much appreciate some good advice on a safe minimum temperature and how many days to be sure a deck is dry following what may be a deluge, for example, would be helpful. Just some range of of temps and times before staining.
I would have personally done almost any extreme measure to personally pre-stain it in a heat-controlled space to have at least something on it, but of course that’s more than anyone would go along with. I’ve waited a long time to be able to replace the one that was destroyed, and only now can get cooperation that isn’t reliable enough to risk the wait, so naturally it’s a big deal to take the very best care of it from day 1. So, once it is dry and warm enough, then what steps can I take to restore it to a tighter, finer grain? I feel like I will have to pressure wash, use a cleaner, and sand it, to restore it and have what I will have upon install, if that is possible. I’m not happy about having to wait, but it is all or nothing, This will be a big job for me, and hand sanding 300 sq. feet of deck and stairs is a lot of work. I’d want to know what grit she of sandpaper, lile whether to go from 80 and progress to 200 or to 400 or 800, or more. I have a DeWalt random orbital sander, (and a belt sander, so advice there is also good, I always default to the random because it’s the easiest to use), and I’d want to know what to use to get all the dust off the best way, but it’s a big price to pay for having to do it now, or not being able to get them to do it when the weather was good. I have several medical issues that will make it rather daunting, but whatever it takes to do it right and the very best the first time, that’s what I want to do. I’d rather go to a lot of work and protect it than anything else
I also wanted to know about the best stains. I’m told that would be an oil stain, which makes sense to me, but I don’t know the ins and outs of the various brands and types and their pros and cons, I do want a dark result, a charcoal color, as that goes best with the house and existing structures. I’d use a boat stain if that was better. We get extreme temperatures, it can easily get -20°F or lower as an overnight low in winter and as hot as over 100°F in the daytime in summer, so it will take quite a beating that way. I am interested in knowing some good brands that offer a darker stain or one that is tintable. It would be nice to see some grain, or else I’d have gone with more opaque as some seem to think is better. Opaques have always had a very peeling result on the old deck as well, for whatever reasons. The products were not cheap, either. That much I know. Cost was not the deciding factor. Of course it’s nice to not pay extreme prices, but I’d rather pay up front and not reapply constantly. I had built a cedar gate years ago and had used a rubberizer on it before I knew much of anything and it did ok. It’s still standing. After 20+ years, it’s still doing fine. Aged, but sturdy, functional, and still lovely.
Also, I’d appreciate any advice on regular maintenance regarding how often to re-apply, and how to prep for that and not raise the grain or cause other damage to the wood that I might be completely clueless about. I want to know how to properly care for this investment, and treat this deck well. I will likely add rugs and curtains to help with that once it has been properly stained and set up/cures.
Thanks to anyone who has some input. This deck will be a main living space for me year ’round. I BBQ and sit outside, day or night, hot or cold, rain, snow, or dry. I like being outside, so it’s a very important space. Thanks in advance…