You need to let your new deck dry out before it can be stained or sealed. If your deck was built in June, July, or August, the heat will likely dry it out well enough to stain in a matter of a few of weeks! If it was built in April or May then you should probably wait until mid-to-late June. Most any other time of year, you'll need to wait anywhere from a few months to 6 or 7 months.
For the stain to soak in, dry well and adhere to the wood properly, the temperature needs to not fall below 50° for about 72 hours. This means that even if your deck was built in March and you waited through the summer and until November to stain it, you may do well to continue to wait again until the next spring. Staining outdoor structures is mostly a seasonal thing. But one thing we know for sure about Arkansas is that the weather has a mind of it's own and you could get 2 weeks of perfect deck staining weather in December!
If you're going to be doing the staining or sealing yourself, we have a few suggestions.
Keep in mind that we at Custom Deckworks are not the staining or painting professionals and that a true professional may advise you a little differently than we are here. But.... new treated pine lumber has a water seal already on it. You sould see the water bead up on your new deck. With the water seal on it and the chemicals in it, the lumber is already protected for years against rot and insect damage. But the lumber IS NOT protected from the UV rays of the sun! That's why it sure will help it to be stained with a quaility product - and one that has some color to it.
Putting more clear product on your deck is not helping it. A stain with some degree of color (doesn't have to be dark) will act like sunglasses and help protect your deck from drying out too far, or too fast, and from developing some of the small cracks & splits, and the turning grey, that make it look as if you built a driftwood deck.
We've seen people have great success with Sherwin-Williams SuperDeck waterborne formula. It's almost always "on sale", but even if it's not and you can't wait, this is another one of those things that will hurt badly if you try to save a few bucks by getting a lesser product and it doesn't perform. And we personally recommend the waterbased (waterborne) formula because it's easy clean up and when it comes time to redo it (however many years down the line) it will be much easier. You'll only need to clean the deck (maybe light pressure washing), let it dry, and then restain with more waterbased stain. But if you use oil-based stain, then when it's time to redo it you'll have to get the old stain off with a chemical stripper before you can restain. And that extra step will take as much time and cost as the staining itself will, so it's basically double the time & money for something that may or may not last you another year.
But whatever you do, do NOT put any of that "Deck Coating" or "anti-slip, super-grip" stuff on your deck. Don't use anything that is super thick and solid. M&M's need a candy shell but natural wood deck boards don't! We've torn out so many decks that rotted from the inside due to being coated with that stuff. It allows the boards to soak up moisture from underneath but then won't let it evaporate out, so the inside of the board stays wet and rots. And then you don't know it's rotting until you step on it and your leg goes through the board. Remember..... A wise man once said, "Just because someone invented something, doesn't mean it's worth using."
For years we didn't have anyone good to recommend to our clients. But now we do!
2400 Crestwood Rd #100
North Little Rock, AR 72116
Click on their logo above to visit their website and learn more about them. Or just go ahead and click on the phone number to get a quote for having your deck or fence stained and protected the right way!
And actually, if you need ANY painting work done, interior... exterior, these are the guys to call!
For Treated Pine ~
Here is the Warranty Statement from Viance LLC., one of the treated lumbers carried by Lowe's:
"To make a claim under this warranty, an Original
Consumer-Purchaser must send to the address below,
the original invoice or retailer receipt showing date,
amount, and CA end tags or photo of preservative
treatment stamp of each item of CA claimed to be
damaged. You may be required to provide Viance
with additional photographs and sections of damaged
wood. In addition, Viance reserves the right to have a
representative inspect and test all wood claimed to be
damaged. Failure to use this product for a Covered
Use immediately voids this warranty."
The problem is, no one saves all those tags. Sometimes the tags fall off before purchase or after purchase or during transport to your jobsite. They don't specify what they do in the case of boards that are cut up, like a 12' board cut into three pieces for use as 3 different stair treads. There will be no way to prove which boards are which and where they came from, and the lawyers these big companies have are good at pointing that out!
And... sometimes we have to get some of your boards from one lumber company and some from another. They all buy from different treatement companies. Supposed to be the same treatment standards, but they will each want us to prove which boards were theirs. It's really an impossible situation and they know it. That's why the only company to ever be truly successfully sued was YellaWood - because they branded themselves so differently, and their treatment colored the wood uniquely, so it was very clear which lumber was theirs. They have since changed that and their stuff looks like everyone elses.
Another issue is that different companies have different or additional rules for their warranties. And those would be found in their respective warranty statements. But one of the main ones is the maintenence of the wood. Specifically, having the wood sealed with a UV protectant every one to two years and being able to prove you did it (and stripped the old sealer off properly, etc., etc.). They will really just keep throwing things at you to keep from having to honor the warranty.
If we're doing a composite deck with a non-wood rail on a treated pine frame, we can protect that frame with joist tape. Plus, the larger framing boards, especially the posts, have extra treatment in them for ground contact. So we can definately get you your money's worth out of a treated frame in that situation. But if you chose an all-pine deck, you will essentially be at the mercy of the wood. It will last however long it lasts - and that's not even a third of how long they used to last.
For Cedar or Exotic Hardwoods (Ipe, Tigerwood, etc.) ~
Cedar is a natural wood product that does not come with a factory warranty. Some of it may be top-coated (most aren't) and that coating can have a 15-30 year warranty.
The warranty statement on the website for the company where I (and most people) get exotic hardwoods mentions a warranty period of 3 days after purchase, along with other legal mumbo-jumbo.
So for these and every other natural product, whether it has a coating or treatment or not, there is either no warranty or they'll make it so hard on you/us that we'll wish we never even bothered them about it.
For Composites and Metal Railings (any special order items) ~
Each of these will have thier own warranties and it will be much easier to make a claim on them. It will be easier for me to keep invoices and prove where I bought the items. And fights over individual tags being saved won't be such an issue. These warranties can be accessed via any of the links I send you on the individual products, which are usually sent in the email where I give you the quote.
However..... they WILL still go to great lengths to find out if a ton of other parameters were met (or rules adhered to). What was it cut with? What was it attached with? Did any of the fasteners miss or go in at an imporper angle? What was it ever cleaned with in it's entire lifetime? Was there ever a time when the Sun reflected off a window or something else and concentrated its heat on the item? How is the moisture controlled under the structure? Does your dog walk on it? Do you wear shoes on it and what kind? Did you let snow sit on it? Did you try to melt the snow with salt or any other caustic material?
It is doable to make a warranty claim. But it will not be an easy road. And our claim could very easily be denied due to something you or I did or didn't do - something that we never dreamed would be a problem.
And finally, any warranty any manufacturer or treatment plant has on any lumber or other item will never cover the labor to remove the failed/damaged item or the labor to replace it. And even though I will help you make your warranty claim, I am only one man running a small company that is constantly overloaded on its good days. I cannot stop everything to help, or even dig out some papers, for more than a minute or so at a time or many people will go hungry and other clients will get angry at my inattention - which leads to more going hungry. So please, be real sure it's a fight we can win, and that it's a fight worth winning, before we embark.
The best thing YOU can do is all the research you can before making a decision on what materials your deck will be built with and then living with those choices. Nothing lasts forever or performs like any of us think it should for the money it costs. It's the very same with many other things we buy - cars, groceries, hotel rooms, concerts, vacuum cleaners, tires, and on & on.
The newer and less time-tested a product is, the more likely it is to let you down. This is why I like to stick to Trex instead of the newer, unproven composites and why every time they change the chemicals in treated pine we all just have to cross our fingers!
Of course, if it's a deck that WE built then we will repair it - for free under warranty, or for a fee if there is no more warranty. But if it's been a long time, odds are the explanation below will explain why we will push for a full rebuild. By the time one of our decks needs anything repaired (besides a warranty issue not long after completion), it is likely ready for a full rebuild anyway.
So why don't we do repairs on decks we didn't build......... ?
The short answer is "Liability".
The longer answer is multi-part. For one, there is no stopping spot and that makes us liable for anything we didn't repair. You see 10 boards that need attention and get us to quote replacing those 10 boards. While we're looking at everything, we see 10 more and you agree we can replace those too. When we start working and taking up the old boards we see other stuff, including framing, that has rot that we couldn't see until we started taking things off. You either let us do more or you don't. But in most cases we will always be able to keep finding issues as long as we keep taking boards off. At some point you say that you aren't trying to replace the whole deck right now & we just have to find a stopping point. So we do.
Not only is this hard on our schedule (we can't plan when we don't know how big the project is), but you end up hating us when we have to keep adding money for things we keep finding.
And then a week later or month later or when your stain guy comes to restain everything and hopefully blend in all the new boards we just installed, you or he will see some stuff that needs attention - stuff we couldn't fix because you made us have a stopping point. If the deck collapses or someone falls through (or ANYthing), you (and if not you, your lawyers) will say that WE are the experts and WE should have fixed it or demanded to fix it to bring it back up to safe standards.
Since WE were the last ones to touch it, it will be US that is on the hook for anything that happens after we leave.
When we didn't build the deck originally, there could be something we can't see that can fail later. If we built it then we will know how and why every board is where it is and therefore have a better understanding of its current state of integrity.
Secondly, we are one crew of only 2-5 people. And we stay booked out an average of 6 months at all times. To grab one of the helpers and run do some repairs on one of OUR decks for an hour or so while the rest of the guys are on a full-build, is not too big a thing to work out. One reason is because I have all the pictures, drawings, measurements and info here for every deck we've built. So I can prepare for that much better. I know how it's built and therefore I know what it takes to repair it. I can charge a fair price for that.
However, if it's not one of our decks, even when I come to look it over I will miss tons of stuff that will end up costing me way more time than I planned for if we try to come repair it. Sometimes you can't see how something is built until you start taking it apart. It just never works out and I'm never able to charge a price that's fair to us for our time.
Remember...... this isn't like most every other part of your home, where there is a standard for how things are built. People build decks in many different ways and many were built by the previous homeowner and/or their cousin - sadly most guys just making it up as they go along. So to ask us to come along and be able to figure out a mess (much less be able to see all the rot w/o taking anything off) is not somthing that ends up being as cheap as you think it should be.
Again, back to the thing of liability. Even if it is our own deck but it is too old to "repair", for those and any deck that isn't ours we will be giving you a quote for a full rebuild only. If you insist that I come out, taking up my valuable time & yours, to look at a deck that you think can just be repaired, please know that I won't even give you a price for any repairs. I will be giving you a quote for a full rebuild only. So if you are SURE that it just needs some minor repairs (and it's not one of our decks) then go ahead and contact someone that does repairs. If you contact me I'll be happy to give you the name & number of anyone I may know at the time who takes on repair work (often times I don't have a name to share). And if you contact me without finding and reading this part of my website first, I will likely just send you the link to this page instead of typing it or saying it all over again & again. That's why I have this site and have filled it with information - because I am too busy to have the same conversations over & over again several times a week - even though I love visiting with people.
This ↑ entire paragraph is an attempt to let you know that you need to be pretty certain of what YOU want done before you contact me about it. I understand sometimes people aren't sure and want me to come look and give my "professional assessment" of the situation. But I'm telling you now that if it just needs basic repairs you will be wasting both our times because we don't do those. If I come out I need you to already have prepared yourself for the idea of an all-new deck because that is the only thing I will be giving anyone a price for (initial exceptions considered). And if I feel tricked into coming out just to help you get "an idea of cost" then just know that if you ever do hire us for anything you will likely be paying a higher price for the time that was wasted. I've got tons of people that contact me in good faith that really do need my help & my time, not to mention that you spending your time on someone that won't do the work anyway is probably not how you want to spend it.
If you just need an idea of cost then email me with your address, how old you think the deck is, pictures, and any measurements you can give me and I'll be happy to tell you if I think it should be rebuilt or if it would be ok for a handyman to repair it. And if I think it should be rebuilt then I'll give you a ballpark for that via email. If at any point you come to agree that it may need to be rebuilt and our ballpark is within range for you, then I'd be happy to come out at that time and get full measurements and work you up an exact quote. I'm trying to respect YOUR time while asking that mine be respected too.
A quick note on the best use of your money:
If it's truly just a few boards, then it's just a few boards. You'll be fine getting a handyman or someone to knock that out for you. But if there is a chance that there are more problems than you can see (tops of the joists are rotted where the decking lays on them, footings failing under the ground, etc.) then you'd be better off tearing it all out and rebuilding the whole thing. Think of it like this.....
Many people call me wanting to keep all the framing but replace all the floor boards (or even most of them). Sometimes they may want new rail, but often they want to save that too since it's the decking that takes most of the abuse from the weather.
And this is what we call Putting Good Money on Top of Bad!
You see, the frame is as old as the decking you want to replace. And it WILL have some damage, you just may not be able to see it unless I come point it out. One thing the joists could be doing is bowing down or sagging in the middle. Do you really want to put a new floor on top of a sagging or out-of-level frame? A frame that may only have a few years left anyway?? Even if the frame doesn't really have any rot on the tops of the joists, the new flooring may not hold as well when the new nails or screws try to go in old nail holes. And if it's treated pine flooring then it WILL warp and buckle if it's not held down firmly.
So if you do want a new floor on old joists anyway, and then a few years later you realize the frame just HAS to be replaced, then guess what? All that new floor you just paid to have installed has to come off!
After 30-something years doing this, we've learned that it is ALWAYS cheaper on the client to let us rip out the old and put up all new compared to paying us to fight with an old frame trying to save something. The reason for this is.... that's when you will finally see our labor costs outpace the cost of materials - when we spend insane amounts of time trying to force an old sagging frame to perform for a new floor or stairs or rail. We barely charge any labor to tear out a deck and haul it off (because it's quick to do when we aren't "saving" stuff) and we can frame a deck so fast (in cases lower than 14') that hardly any labor costs get spent on it. So you come out better letting us buy new joists with that money you save!
If you're spending the same money anyway, then why wouldn't you just want an all-new deck???
Let us take on the liability for the WHOLE structure by letting us build it all new.
Nothing good is done without help. I would like to thank the following people for the education and in directly helping me be able to build this website "all by myself":
Camron Lockeby - Level70 Designs
Wayan Jaya - Mawarputih Designs in Bali
Inger in Norway - CC components
Dan Klein & team - JK
John Hunter for putting up with my absence and taking excellent care of our clients and crew like a professional while I stayed home pulling my hair out in front of this computer to get this done. The craftsmanship and care you see in every photo is from his hands, many times, more than mine. I am truly blessed.