4 Things You Need to Know About Wood Maintenance

Any material that is exposed to the elements requires some maintenance. The good news is that regular and simple upkeep helps preserve your client’s outdoor wood products for years to come.

A deck being stained by a homeowner


Click here to learn how to maintain your client’s deck for outdoor entertaining year-round


  • Inspect the boards for damage such as splitting, warping and checking.
  • Check each fastener to be sure they’re not coming loose.
  • Every deck should have an annual cleaning. Assuming they have been maintained regularly, most decks can be revived with just a deck cleaner. As with all products, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for proper use.


  • A simple test to see if the deck needs refinishing is to pour a cup of water on the wood. If the water sinks in quickly, it’s probably time to reapply a sealant.
  • If needed, reapply a water repellant sealer or stain.


Even if the deck is several years old and showing signs of natural weathering, it’s easy to restore the original color and beauty of the wood by applying a cleaning solution, available at any hardware store. Just spray on the cleaning solution or apply it with a brush, and be sure to allow several days for your wood to dry before applying a finish.


Deck finishes fall into two categories: sealers and stains. Both are formulated to seal out the elements. As their name implies, clear sealers are non-pigmented finishes that show off the natural beauty of your wood. Stains are available with a little pigmentation (referred to on the label as “tone”), semitransparent, and in solid colors. Clear and pigmented stains sink into the wood and won’t show signs of wear in high-traffic areas of your deck. Paints form a film on top of the wood surface and can crack and peel over time, so they are not recommended for finishing decks.

Regardless of which type of wood you choose for the deck, a few basic guidelines apply when finishing and maintaining the wood:

  • The first time you apply a sealant or stain to a wood deck is important, and it’s best to apply it as soon as the wood surface is dry. Remove any dirt or debris from your deck before applying a finish.
  • Decide whether to use a semi-transparent stain or a water-repellent sealer. A water-repellent sealer will last about one year on exposed surfaces due to its lack of UV protection, but it’s extremely easy to reapply. Because water-repellent sealers are not pigmented, you don’t have to worry about uneven wear; however, they give your deck less protection from the weathering effects of sunlight than pigmented finishes.
  • If you’re unsure whether you’d like to use a semi-transparent stain or use a water-repellent sealer, try applying the water-repellent sealer to the deck first. If you decide you’d rather use a semi-transparent stain in the future, it’s easy to switch when the deck needs to be refinished.
  • If you choose a water-repellant sealer for a wood deck, look for one that contains ultraviolet light blockers to protect against sunlight, as well as mildewcides to help prevent the blackening or graying of the wood from mildew growth.


Wood You Like To Know? Cleaning Your Deck

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