Water, when combined with UV radiation and changes in weather and temperature, can cause your deck to look dull and weathered by washing away your deck's finish, natural resins, and color. While you can't completely prevent your deck's exposure to the elements, sealing your deck will help sustain its finish, which may save you time and money.
Step 1: Check Your Deck
Here are a couple of tests you can perform to see if your deck needs waterproofing. Drop several drops of water onto the deck. If the water beads up, the deck is still protected and doesn't need to be waterproofed now. If a drop soaks into the wood, it means the old finish or waterproofing layer has worn away leaving the wood unprotected. You can also firmly press a piece of tape against the surface to be stained. The presence of old stain or wood fibers on the tape could indicate a potential moisture problem. Remove eroded wood fibers and loose stain by using a wood stripper then sanding and power washing the surface.
If your deck looks faded and gray, it’s time to refinish with some coats of stain. See the project Stain Your Deck for more tips and information on how to finish your deck. All stains are waterproofing sealants as well, allowing you to stain and seal in one step. If it’s time to refinish your deck, consider using a quality stain, such as Woodsman®.
Before you start staining or sealing, check your local weather report to be sure you'll have at least 48 hours of dry weather.
All stains protect wood from moisture, but some provide better protection from UV rays. Clear stains only protect wood, while pigmented stains provide a higher degree of UV protection.
Also, check your deck for wood that's worn out, splitting, twisting or rotting. If you see these signs, you will need to do more prep work and refinish the deck, before waterproofing.
Step 2: Prepare the Deck for Waterproofing
Before you start, remove everything from the deck including furniture and potted plants. Loosely cover any delicate or fragile ground plants adjacent to the deck with tarps or drop cloths. Don't use plastic sheeting on shrubs and plants. It can create a deadly "greenhouse effect" and harm your plants. Remove drop cloths from your foliage as soon as your project is complete so they don't suffocate. Sweep off loose debris with a broom and clean between the cracks using a slender stick or tool. Repair damaged boards and hammer in popped-up nails.
Use a garden hose or a pressure washer to spray the surface of the deck, forcing away dirt, dust, oil and grease. This will also help remove the top layer of previous waterproofing. Begin at one end of the deck and continue until you have rinsed the entire surface and removed as much dirt as possible. If you use a pressure washer, keep the pressure set to less than 1,000 pounds per square inch and leave a few feet between the spray nozzle and the deck to avoid damaging the wood. Set it to spray a fan of water so it pushes dirt and debris away faster. Spray between the deck boards to eliminate any remaining debris. Use a pole sander or orbital sander with medium-grit sandpaper to smooth down any splintered areas and to remove remnants of the previous layer of sealant. Starting with as clean a surface as possible will help the new coat of sealant set in and provide a better level of protection.
When using a pressure washer, wear safety glasses to protect your eyes from splashing water and debris.
Cleaning your deck at least once a year helps it last longer and look better while maintaining the integrity of the wood. And when you're planning on sealing or refinishing your deck, you'll have to clean it first. Deck cleaning products are available in a variety of types and strengths. Some offer a special chlorine bleach formula for eliminating mold, mildew and algae. However, chlorine bleach formulas may require more frequent cleanings. Consider using a non-chlorine bleach cleaner instead, such as Woodsman® Premium Wood Cleaner.
The best outdoor temperature for cleaning and treating your deck is between 50 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
Make sure your deck is compatible with the cleaner you choose, especially, if your deck is made of soft wood like redwood or cedar. Check the manufacturer's instructions to see whether you should start with a dry or wet deck. Try to clean on a calm day to keep wind from blowing the cleaning agent around the yard. Use a deck stain applicator to apply the cleaner to the entire deck. While applying, be careful not to allow the cleaner to puddle anywhere on your deck to assure an even appearance.
Scrub tough areas with a stiff brush or a broom. Don't use wire brushes as wire bristles can break off into the wood and cause rust spots. Follow the product's instructions regarding how long to let the cleaner soak into the wood, usually about 10 to 15 minutes. After the cleaner has been allowed to soak, rinse the deck thoroughly with a hose.
Cleaners contain bleaching agents, so wear protective clothing, safety goggles and rubber gloves.
After cleaning your deck, let it dry for at least 24 hours.
Step 3: Apply Sealant
Apply a thin, even coat of high-quality, mold- and mildew-resistant, waterproof sealant with UV protection, such as Woodsman® Water Repellent or Woodsman® Wood-Toned UV Wood Sealer and Protector, using a stain brush, in the direction of the boards. Don’t forget to cover corners and other difficult areas such as steps, railings, board ends and cracks. Apply two coats if needed.
Wear protective clothing, safety goggles and rubber gloves when sealing your deck to prevent skin irritation.
Do not apply sealant in direct sunlight. It will dry too quickly without absorbing into the wood.
Step 4: Finish Up
Stay off the deck while it dries, for at least 48 hours. Allow the sealant to dry completely before replacing any furniture and potted plants. When you're finished, remove your drop cloths, return furniture and other items to your deck, clean your tools and enjoy.
That's it! Your deck is sealed, waterproofed and ready for the winter weather ahead.
Project Shopping List
Here’s what you’ll need to complete this project successfully.
Garages often seem to be the catchall location for stuff that needs to be stored. If your car stays outside because you have too many belongings hoarded in the garage, get it organized now by following a few simple steps.
Step 1: Clear It Out
In order to get organized, you need to move everything out of the garage. Decide what you need to purge and what you will keep. Toss broken items and sell anything of value that you no longer use. Get rid of anything you haven't used in a couple of years or more. Hold a garage or yard sale to make some money from the items you need to get rid of. Remember, you can take the proceeds of the sale to buy storage solutions for the stuff you keep.
Step 2: Clean the Floor
While your belongings are out of your garage you can give the floor and other areas a good scrubbing. Use a wet/dry vacuum to eliminate cobwebs and other debris. Clean the insides of garbage bins and the areas around them with soap and water. Get an oil-enhanced sweeping compound from your local True Value® to quickly sweep away dust from the floor.
You can get rid of grease and oil spots with cat litter and some cola. Pour the cola directly on the stain then sprinkle with cat litter. The acid in the cola will break up the grease; the cat litter will absorb it. Sweep up with a broom and dustpan and dispose of it. You can also purchase concrete and asphalt cleaner at your local True Value.
To better remove oil and gas stains, apply a laundry pre-treating solution and let it set for five to 10 minutes. Add a little laundry detergent and scrub with a stiff brush. Wipe up residue with paper towels. Next, mop the garage floor with a solution of hot water, bleach and powdered laundry detergent mixed in a bucket. When you're done, rinse any residue down the drain with a garden hose fitted with a spray nozzle. For more intense cleaning, add trisodium phosphate (TSP) to a bucket of hot water and clean the entire floor with a mop.
Use TSP as directed by the manufacturer. TSP can corrode metal and damage finished wood. Be sure to wear protective eyewear, clothing and rubber gloves.
While you're mopping, use a push broom to scrub away any stubborn stains.
Step 3: Start Organizing
Reorganize the things you want to keep into different groups. Sort similar items together. Put auto parts in one area, tools in one, and sports and camping gear in another. This will organize everything until it's time to store them. It will also separate your garage into useable areas. Dividing your garage into sections will give you the option to set up a workshop and still have room for your vehicle and organized storage.
As you organize, keep your eye out for potential safety hazards. Store or dispose of chemicals such as pesticides and herbicides properly. If you have young children, purchase a lockable storage cabinet for all dangerous items such as power tools, paints, chemicals and solvents.
Step 4: Start Storing
Garages have more wall space than floor space, so look for wall solutions — and even ceiling solutions. Utility cabinets provide great storage and are durable enough to withstand the wear and tear of a garage setting. They are ideal for storing paint cans, spray bottles, buckets, gardening supplies, oil and gas cans, car supplies and more. You can micro-organize inside utility cabinets as well. Use plastic bins to store smaller items and label them so that you can locate items when needed. Plastic storage containers are durable and highly adaptable for whatever purpose you need them. They're also stackable and can have airtight lids so that things stay dry and dust-free for years.
If you have exposed rafters, purchase a sheet of plywood that fits the dimensions of the space and create a loft area to store camping gear, Christmas decorations or other items you need to keep but are too bulky or used too infrequently to store anywhere else. Hanging items from hooks is another good way to eliminate clutter. Shop your local True Value® for a variety of hooks and hangers. Simply secure them to wall studs or ceiling rafters. You can hang items such as luggage, gardening tools, ladders, bicycles, toys, etc. Hooks are easier to install if you first drill a hole that's slightly smaller than the hook's screw. When adding hooks to concrete walls, drill holes, insert plastic wall anchors then screw in the hooks.
When using a drill always wear protective eyewear.
Step 5: Buy or Build Shelves
Installing shelves on the walls of the garage is an excellent way to keep items out of the way but within easy reach when needed. There are a number of options available commercially but you can also build a basic utility shelf. Remember, when buying wood, that the top and bottom sections and the two sides should be the same length. Each shelf should be 1-1/2" shorter than the top and bottom pieces.
Mark the measurements on your boards with a pencil line. Using c-clamps, attach the board to sawhorses, a sturdy table or a workbench, positioning your pencil line just off the edge. Double-check your measurements. Carefully cut the wood using a handsaw or circular saw. Sand the rough-cut edges with sandpaper.
Always take proper safety precautions when working with a saw. If you're using a circular saw, be sure to wear protective eyewear. You may also want to wear a dust mask to keep from inhaling sawdust.
Glue the ends of the two side pieces to the inside edge of the bottom piece with wood glue. Once the glue dries, attach the top piece in the same way. After gluing the unit together, use woodscrews to mount the top and bottom pieces to the sides. This will make your shelves sturdier. Mark a dot in each corner of the top and bottom pieces of wood about 1-1/2" to 2" from the top and bottom edges and about 3/8" from the outside edges. Using a drill bit that's a little smaller in diameter than your flathead wood screws, drill holes at each of the marks through the top and bottom pieces into the side pieces. Doing this before you install the screws should keep the wood from splitting. Put the screws in and tighten with a screwdriver.
Determine the placement of the shelves and, using a ruler, mark a line on each side of the unit. Screw in L-brackets so that the top of the bracket is level to the line you just drew. Use two brackets per side. Now slide the shelves in so they rest on the brackets.
Congratulations! Your garage is now orderly and organized.