Does your deck need a facelift?

Painting vs. staining

By Jodi Mohrmann - Managing Editor of special projects
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A wood deck can last for many years, proving it's well maintained. Even well-constructed decks will start looking shabby if you don't take the right precautions, keep up maintenance and clean your deck regularly.

Angie's List asked highly rated deck companies about staining and painting your deck.

Painting Vs. Staining:

  • Paint: Most deck surfaces are horizontal, so the paint just "lays" on the deck. As a result, those areas hold water. Painting will only help trap in moisture, so as your boards expand and contract, the paint begins to chip.
  • Stain: The best way to go, according to deck pros, is to use a clear sealer or a semi-transparent stain on your deck. A quality stain and sealer penetrates the wood grain to seal it, while allowing moisture to escape from the wood. It won't chip, peel or crack as the deck wood swells and shrinks. Deck pros say tell us that an oil-based or semi-transparent stain offers the most natural look.

Angie's List Tips: Deck staining

  • Prep the surface: A properly prepared deck with yield the longest-lasting results. Have a professional power wash and clean the deck to remove and remaining stain, sealant, dirt and grime. Beware if you DIY: too much pressure and you could cause splintering and other damage to the wood. Give the deck a couple days to dry before applying the stain.
  • How much? The price of hiring a professional can vary greatly, depending on the size and shape of your deck, as well as the materials used. Basic maintenance—cleaning, wood repair and staining or sealing — ranges from $400 to more than $1,000. Companies can strip the old paint from your deck but this will increase your costs.
  • Do your homework: Get several bids, check references and confirm that the company is appropriately licensed and insured. In addition, make sure the company has a plan for covering and protecting plants and other areas from cleaners or stains.
  • Maintenance is key: Wood decks need to be re-stained every few years because even the best stains will fade, especially in high-traffic areas.

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