Common Problems with Deck Care and Five Solutions to prevent them.

PaintSource outlines 5 key points of concern regarding building and wood finishing for New Deck Projects.



Most problems with wood deck care can be traced to the first product that touches your bare wood.

PaintSource philosophy for all deck finishing is first on / last on, meaning do not change to a different product than that which was originally applied, unless you are ready to remove that coating and start over. Stay with your existing finish until you decide to remove.

If you are building a new deck or other wood structure, please call us for a chat. We have proven and guaranteed solutions for all exterior wood care. We can help guide you or your contractor to the best wood finish solution for your new wood deck.

The PaintSource Guide to Deck Stain and Finish

  1. Wood must be dried SLOWLY before building your deck, or you must purchase kiln dried wood.

    If you build with wet wood you will have warping, cupping, and splitting, no matter what product you choose for deck sealing and finishing.
  2. Wood must be coated on bottom prior to construction. Saw cuts MUST be sealed as you build.
  3. Most available wood needs to be sanded for the best penetration of the chosen wood treatment.
  4. PaintSource has the only 3 options to consider for best deck sealing and beautifying.
  5. Please call PaintSource to chat about your project BEFORE you build.

Common Causes of Deck Stain Failure

This article will be most helpful to clients who are building or planning a new deck. It can also be helpful to understand why many common deck care problems occur on existing decks.

When building or renovating a deck, take the following steps:

If using pressure treated pine, use kiln dried wood. If that is not possible, slowly air dry
the wood for thirty days to prevent cupping and splitting.

Dry your wood before you build

Do not dry wood in direct sunlight as it will dry too quickly and split and warp.

Stack it in a garage or carport with spacers between every row to promote air flow.

Blow air through and on the wood with a fan

Vent the garage or open the door regularly to remove the moisture from the garage

Prepare the deck wood

Move the dried wood outside onto a flat surface, possibly the deck base frame.

Coat the bottom part of the wood with One TIME Wood Protector (a mini roller is easier and more efficient than a brush). Don’t bother with the sides as some will run down and cover most of the sides. The rest of the sides will be covered when the top is stained.

Allow the One TIME to cure in direct sun for at least 12 hours

Seal the tops of the stringers and joists with OneTime to increase their useful life

Install the floor

Flip the wood and cut it to fit. Seal both ends with One TIME. Screw the floor down.

Rough sand the deck with 80 grit sandpaper to open the pores of the wood.

Stain with One TIME

Allow to cure for at least 12 hours in direct sun. More time will be needed with indirect sun.

Apply new coat of One TIME in 3-5 years.

Prior to applying new coat, clean with Simple Green or Dawn dish soap to wash thoroughly and remove residue.

Allow deck to dry 2 drying days before applying new stain.

Common Problem

UNCOATED END GRAIN AND BACKSIDE MOISTURE INTRUSION
It is the nature of wood to absorb and store moisture through natural design. Capillaries and cells of wood are simply nature’s waterways, and when exposed to moisture, dry wood will seek and absorb water. Moisture intrusion into wood is predominately through saw cuts and exposed end grain. In a very simple test, you can take a piece of deck lumber and stand it on end in about an inch of water. Within 12-24 hrs, moisture elevation will be measurable up to 3 feet into the length of the board.

Unsealed end grain leads to a legacy of costly maintenance, and splitting and cupping of deck lumber. As wood dries, it shrinks. Any change in moisture content to various parts of the board will cause expansion and contraction cycles to the wood that lead to cracking and splitting.

Better Solution

Seal all end grain before and during installation.
Seal backside prior to construction, as many times, underside is inaccessible after construction.
If you make a saw cut, re seal the exposed end grain.

Common Problem

HIGH MOISTURE WOOD
Most cupping and splitting is the result of rapid drying of wood, as decks and structures are constructed of wet lumber. The more rapid the wet to dry cycle, the more pronounced splitting and cupping will be. Most of the wood that is used in new construction is high in moisture content, and improperly handling that issue can lead to a lifetime of various deck care issues and costly problems. Since you should not dry wood rapidly in the sun, you should never build a deck out of wet lumber, unless you build a very big tent.

Better Solution

Wet wood must be dried in a controlled fashion, by racking and stacking wet wood for a few weeks prior to construction. Stack your lumber with 1 or 2” spacers between layers, boards 1” away from each other. Even if indoor storage is not available, stack the wood on any flat surface (a couple of wood pallets would do), then spacer the wood for air movement, and cover with blue tarp or other covering. Be sure to stack some weight on top of the stack to keep the drying boards flat. Dry to under 20% moisture range, and you are then ready to pre-coat the back side, followed by end-grain coating as saw cuts are made during construction.

Common Problem

MILL GLAZE
When wood is planed (smoothed) at the sawmill, resin, sap and sawdust is “polished” onto the surface of the wood. This “mill glaze” will repel most wood coatings, and if coated over, can lead to a legacy of maintenance issues. Mil glaze is apparent if you can look at an angle across the wood, and you see a shiny surface

Better Solution

Do not stain over mil-glazed wood. While mil-glaze can weather off over time, the best approach is to remove by washing, or in some cases, sanding. Wash with TSP or a strong oxygen bleach cleaner and scrub, or sand where appropriate. Sanding is not advised for some treated lumber.

Contact us to choose the best deck care product for your project:

Summary of points from PaintSource

  • Wood must be dried SLOWLY before building your deck, or you must purchase kiln dried wood.
  • Wood must be coated on bottom prior to construction. Saw cuts MUST be sealed as you build.
  • Most available wood needs to be sanded for the best penetration of the chosen wood treatment.
  • PaintSource has the only 3 options to consider for best deck sealing and beautifying.

Please call PaintSource to chat about your project BEFORE you build.

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