Prepping a deck is crucial for getting the most out of the deck stain. Regardless of the type or quality of deck stain, you are using it will not perform as expected if the deck is not prepped correctly. Deck stain needs to be applied to a clean, dry and bare wood surface in order to provide a long-lasting protective barrier against foot traffic and harsh elements.
When dirt is present in the wood pores the stain cannot penetrate like it needs to. This can lead to stain drying on top of the surface resulting in a shiny or blotchy finish as well as premature failure. Mold and mildew that are not cleaned prior to staining will continue to infiltrate the wood underneath the stain. This can lead to wood rot and decay. Fungal growth will also attack the stain causing a darkening appearance.
Prepping a deck also means cleaning and removing any existing and failing stain or sealer that may still be on the wood surface. Applying new stain over old stain will certainly prevent the new coat from penetrating the wood. An old failing stain should be washed off using deck cleaner. If the old stain is more stubborn then use Restore-A-Deck stripper to help emulsify the stain prior to pressure washing. After cleaning or stripping the deck it needs to be brightened. The brightener will lighten the wood to its natural color and neutralize the cleaners causing the wood to be more acidic to guarantee excellent stain penetration. The RAD brightener can be bought as a stand-alone product or in a RAD kit.
This two-step process of cleaning and brightening will ensure that you prep your deck correctly and get the most out of your stain. So in answering the question, “why do I need to prep my deck” it is so you get the most professional long lasting, beautiful finish that you can. It will also save you money by reducing premature stain failure as well as prolonging the life of your deck.