Overview

Spruce Deck overview
Photo: Jeff Harris
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CHOOSING A FINISH

Choosing a finish for a softwood deck is a three-way tug of war between aesthetics, practicality, and protection. Favor any one characteristic, and you have to give up a bit of the other two. For example, if showing off the beauty of new wood is top priority, a clear finish is the obvious choice. But that clarity also lets in destructive UV rays, and that means more frequent reapplication (every six to 24 months). By contrast, solid stains offer great sun protection but hide the wood's grain under an opaque film. They have about a four-year life span, but like all film forming finishes, they tend to peel or crack.

The most popular deck finishes are semitransparent stains, which are also the easiest to maintain. They contain more sun-blocking pigments than clear finishes, but not enough to completely obscure the wood grain. And because they penetrate the surface, there's no film to fail. Just recoat as needed, generally after three years.
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    Tools List

    • synthetic brush
      Synthetic filament brush
    • scrub brush
      Stiff, chemical resistant brush
    • Whisk Broom
      Broom
    • Power washer

    Shopping List

    1. SEMI-TRANSPARENT DECK STAIN

    2. CHLORINE BLEACH

    3. LATEX GLOVES

    4. HOSE