Being constantly exposed to the elements, your deck truly takes a beating and needs regular deck maintenance in order to remain both attractive and structurally sound for years to come.
How you care for your deck going forward depends entirely upon its current condition. If your deck has suffered years of neglect, inspect it thoroughly for signs of rot.
Signs of wood rot include being soft and spongy to the touch, large black spots (fungus) and/or being brittle and crumbles easily under pressure.
If any of these are present, strong consideration should be given to replacing the deck entirely, as this could lead to structural damage and present a serious safety concern.
Cleaning the Deck
If there are no signs of rot and the deck is just old and lackluster, it must be thoroughly cleaned before any UV shields, stains or protective coating can be applied.
Thorough cleaning removes any dirt and sediments that would prevent the proper bond between the wood and the stain. This ultimately means that the stain would not be effective and not last as long as it should.
A strong power washing is typically enough to cleanse your deck of any dirt and sediment that would hinder the project.
Staining the Deck
If you are satisfied with the natural color of your deck after cleaning it, the staining process can be skipped and you can simply apply a UV resistant sealer to the wood.
If a deck has been neglected for some time, however, the resulting color is usually faded and uneven. Does this describe your deck? If so, applying a stain will provide a uniform and updated look to the wood and also add years to how long the deck will last.
Preserving the Deck
After allowing the stain to completely cure, it is advised to apply a UV resistant sealer to the deck to help protect it from the suns harsh rays and other damaging effects of the elements.
Be sure to apply the sealer evenly and allow the wood to absorb the sealer completely and cure for about 2 days before placing any furniture or walking around on the deck.
Although modern stains and sealers help your deck to last much longer, regular care and maintenance is still required in order to ensure you extend the life of your deck and get as many years out of it as you possibly can.