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The Importance of Maintaining Exterior Wood

If you purchased a $10,000 vehicle, most people would change the oil, wash it and maintain it as needed to protect their investment. The average deck size in the U.S. is 400 sq. ft. and the average cost to build that deck in 2021 is $25 per sq. ft. Do the math, that is $10,000. $10,000 for something that is going to be sitting outside, exposed to U.V. rays from the sun, rain, sleet and snow. Just sitting there decaying if not properly cared for.

In many cases a deck on a home is a focal point of the exterior of the property, an outdoor living space. Composite decking (plastic that is molded and colored to look like wood) is an option but is very expensive and is still not real wood. There are many stains and paints out there designed for this purpose and vary depending on what ultimate look you want your exterior wood surface to have.

When applying a stain to an exterior wood surface, most consumers think simply about color and want to maintain the natural wood color and will apply a clear stain vs. a pigmented stain but a clear treatment will not keep the wood from naturally graying, only pigment will do that.

When staining exterior wood, several things should be considered, including:

  • What type of surface preparation is required when it is time to reapply stain?
  • Is the protection against surface mold and mildew growth?
  • Is a transparent or opaque look desired (opaque stains will last longer)?

Good quality exterior stains typically consist of the following components:

  • Solvent or water to transfer them from the container to the surface being stained
  • Pigment
  • Resin to encapsulate pigment particles
  • Mildewcide or fungicide
  • Wax (for water repellency)
  • Driers

Value. The performance of exterior stain, not unlike interior and exterior house paint, can often be judged by the price you pay for it. A $10 gallon pail of exterior stain is likely not going to perform as well as a $35 gallon pail of exterior stain because the manufacturer has likely not utilized all of the earlier mentioned components, compromising quality and performance. 

If you use 4 gallons of stain at $10 per gallon, you will spend $40. If you use 4 gallons of stain at $35 per gallon you will spend $140. A $100 cost savings on a $10,000 deck that has to be applied twice or three times as frequently is the same $ amount.

Do your homework, follow the instructions in utilizing a quality product that performs and spend time enjoying your investment, not maintaining it!

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