With work, family and fun to manage, a lot can fall through the cracks when it comes to deck protection and maintenance. Other times, a new home comes with an old patio showing its age. There are sure signs your outdoor spaces need special care like warping wood, oily stains, dark gray smudges and unsightly patches of algae. Troublesome spots appear where dirt and moisture linger. That’s why cleaning, sealing and staining are critical to making your deck, fence or walkway last and look its best.
Changing seasons bring spring showers, summer sun and piles of winter fun across the country. It’s enough to leave your exterior spaces in a dreadful state without protection from wood’s worst enemy—water.
Thompson’s® WaterSeal® has protected concrete and wood for over nine decades and knows that each season is a new opportunity to get inspired for your outdoor project.
Follow our forecast for how to protect and maintain your outdoor space for whatever weather comes your way.
The “Splash Test” is the best way to tell if wood or concrete is protected. Sprinkle on some water—if it penetrates and darkens the surface, there is no protection. Water droplets should bead up or “stand” on the surface without darkening it.
April showers bring May flowers but also mold and mildew that make your deck a slimy mess. Spring temperatures can also plummet from balmy to bitterly cold, causing water that has penetrated wood and concrete to swell, leading to surface cracks. In the worst cases, rotting wood or weakened masonry will chip away or fall apart where water damage has wreaked havoc. That’s why it’s important to keep surfaces clean so that spots and stains do not penetrate more deeply.
Waterproofing protects your patio and walkways from potential damage. For most people, spring is the best time to clean and water-seal exterior surfaces as milder temperatures and humidity levels will help you achieve more predictable, consistent results. And this way, your outdoor spaces will be ready for summer.
5 Tips for Cleaning
The fastest way to apply cleaner to outdoor spaces is with a pump-up sprayer, but you can also use a roller (for decks and fences) or scrub brush (for decks, fences and driveways).
For a deck cleaner that’s specially formulated to remove weathered clear and tinted waterproofers and semi-transparent stains from decks and other exterior wood, you can use Thompson’s® WaterSeal® Heavy Duty Deck Cleaner.
Always follow the manufacturer’s safety directions for any product you choose. When cleaning outside:
Wood’s second-worst enemy? The sun. Ultraviolet rays can cause colorful wood finishes to fade, or boards to dry and splinter. If your deck, fence or shed sees searing heat, consider applying a wood sealer that provides protection from water and is formulated to help prevent sun damage. Tinted wood sealers also contain pigments that provide touches of color while protecting surfaces from the sun’s UV rays., As you move from transparent to solid wood sealers, the more protection is delivered to your outdoor surfaces.
The summer months can take a lot out of your outdoor spaces. A new coat of sealer or stain helps surfaces stay resilient to solar weathering and everything to come.
Make sure that surfaces are dry and free of mildew, leaves and debris before waterproofing, staining or sealing. The ideal outdoor temperature to apply most protective coatings is between 60-65 degrees Fahrenheit. Avoid working in direct sunlight or when temperatures are above 95 F as excessive heat may cause the product to dry before it is absorbed. Optimal conditions are between 60%-70% humidity for most products, as high-humidity conditions can more than double the curing time.
Although many Thompson’s WaterSeal waterproofers and sealers dry in just 12 hours, it’s best to hold off on your project if rain is expected within 24 hours’ time. Good planning helps ensure a passing shower will not ruin your masterpiece.
Building a deck is a big investment that can provide many years of enjoyment for you and your loved ones. Protecting that investment, along with the potential for future fun to be had and memories made, is a no brainer.
It’s tempting to kick your feet up when autumn arrives but don’t neglect the work you’ve already put in and the care your space needs before winter. An outdoor maintenance plan is important to keep all your surfaces looking like new. Paw prints, bird droppings, leaves and grease stains left on deck spaces will make next spring’s maintenance much more daunting and can damage your outdoor surfaces. Use a leaf blower to clear surfaces and give them a good cleaning to prevent spotting as the snow melts. Routine cleaning will help your coating last longer and keep wood grain showing its vibrant color.
If you missed out on waterproofing earlier this year, autumn is still a good time to give your deck protection. There’s still an opportunity to get it done—just be sure to give your project a good scrub first, that prevents dirt buildup and keeps surfaces from looking discolored.
In the heart of winter, if you live in colder climates, stay on top of snow removal. Removing snow and ice from your outdoor spaces prevents moisture from settling in, which can cause issues when the seasons change. Rock salt can also be destructive to concrete, brick and masonry so use it sparingly on your driveway and walkways. Meanwhile, in places where the holidays are celebrated around palm trees, the occasional light cleaning won’t hurt your surfaces and will keep you one step ahead of spring maintenance.
Take pride in a job well done and know that your outdoor space is protected against seasonal elements. Best of all, the money you didn’t spend on repairs can go elsewhere—did we hear “bigger deck”?!
Without water protection, freeze-and-thaw cycles can leave your prize patio needing expensive repairs. If possible, store wood furniture in a closed, covered space for the winter. When this is not an option, cover your furniture with plastic tarps to help prevent damage.
It’s time to choose a coating that will give you the beauty and protection you want. This means knowing what to look for in a waterproofer and how different wood sealers compare in terms of color, transparency and durability.
Deck and outdoor maintenance is something any homeowner can accomplish on their own to ensure quality results that last, no matter the season. For your next project, trust the Seal, Thompson’s WaterSeal, for the best protection from nature’s worst.