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If you’ve recently had a wooden fence or deck installed in your yard, there’s some maintenance to keep in mind. Wooden decks and fences should be sealed to protect them from costly sun and water damage. Without proper care, warping, splitting and mildew could occur. Yikes! How often should you reseal them to prevent such damage? Keep reading to find out what these experts say.

Daniel Osman

Daniel Osman

Daniel Osman is Head of Sales at Balance Homes.

Climate and Exposure Make a Difference

The expectation is that wood decks should be resealed every three years, but in reality, that estimate can vary greatly. A wood deck exposed to elements in hotter climates, or areas with heavy snowfall, may need to be resealed every 18 months–or more if you’ve recently had a hurricane or other severe weather. If your wood deck is covered and protected by a screen, you should be good for five years or even more.

What Type of Sealant Do You Use?

Seals help protect outdoor wooden structures from being damaged by the sun or rain. Depending on the type of sealer used, homeowners can reseal anywhere between two to five years. One factor that affects this is the opacity of the sealer. More opaque seals provide more protection from the sun, so they require less frequent replacement.

However, transparent seals tend to be more attractive to homeowners as they enhance the natural beauty of a wooden fence or deck. This type of sealant usually lasts for two years, three years tops. For decks, you should also consider the amount of exposure they get from the sun and precipitation.

Decks with some sort of overhead covering are more likely to last longer than those without. Similarly, pool decks are more susceptible to water damage and may need more frequent sealing.

Kyle Richards

Kyle Richards

Kyle Richards, Co-Founder of Best Overland Park Painters.

Zac Houghton

Zac Houghton

Zac Houghton, CEO at Loftera.

Sealing Decks and Fences

Wood decks usually require sealing once a year. You need to apply deck sealant more frequently if your deck gets more foot traffic and sun exposure.

As a general rule, you should stain and seal wood fences every five years. You should also recoat a wood fence every two to three years, depending on the manufacturer. Staining and sealing go together, so seal after staining and vice versa.

Despite its resistance to rot and insect attacks, the wood is susceptible to warping, splitting, and developing mildew if not adequately protected from moisture.

It’s a good idea to seal decks once a year for most decks. As long as you don’t go past three years without re-sealing and staining your deck, this can be adjusted depending on the condition of your deck.

At least one year should pass before a sealer needs to be replaced. Though some last up to three years. There are water-based and oil-based sealers, but many professionals recommend oil-based products due to their longevity.

Penetrating Sealer vs. Surface Coating

Sealing wood decks and fences is an important part of maintaining these surfaces. Sealing a wood deck or fence can be done in two ways: penetrating sealers, which penetrate the surface and protect it from water damage by forming a barrier; and surface coatings, which build up on the surface.

Treat your deck or fence with a penetrating sealer once or twice a year to help prevent water damage. Depending on the type of wood you have, maintenance more often will be necessary. Some types of wood, like cedar, require more frequent sealant treatments because of its porous nature.

For a wooden deck or fence, you can choose to use either a penetrating sealer or a surface coating (paint). Penetrating sealers are viscous liquids that penetrate the surface of the wood. Surface coatings are different from penetrating sealers because they form a layer on top of the wood that helps protect it from water damage and discoloration.

It’s best to treat your deck or fence with both types of products for maximum long-term protection against water damage and discoloration.

Ronald Smith

Ronald Smith

Ronald Smith from EatDrinkbinge.

David Mason

David Mason

David Mason, Owner of The Knobs Company.

Keeping Your Deck Good as New

If left unsealed, the wood deck will dry out and begin to crack, splinter, warp, and peel. The same applies to your wood fence. If not sealed it may begin to flake and blister within a few weeks to months after installation. As for how often you should apply the stain to the wood, the rule is to do it as soon as possible after construction or installation.

The wood will still need to be cleaned before staining, so you will follow the same process as cleaning it for painting, scraping off any loose or flaking paint. You should then rinse the wood to remove any loose dirt, dust, and other debris that may have accumulated on the surface.

Your next step will be to apply a wood cleaner or brightener, which you can purchase at your local home improvement center. You will apply the cleaner and then use a clean rag to wipe away the substance after it has sat on the wood for about five minutes. Following this, you will rinse the wood thoroughly and allow it to air dry.

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