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Preserving Outdoor Wood

Construction How-To, Fences, Outdoor Living, Staining August 10, 2015 Sonia

Weathered Wood

When wood is exposed to the sunlight the ultraviolet rays can damage the wood fibers over time, causing the surface to turn gray. The most direct way to renew the appearance is to sand or pressure-wash the surface. However, sanding can be very difficult and time-consuming, and pressure-washing can remove the gray but cause the surface to fuzz or splinter, posing a “touch” hazard for areas such as deck surfaces where people may walk barefoot. When using a power-washer, limit your pressure to no more than 1,000 or 1,200 PSI.

Some individual board may be heavily weathered. Replace them completely, clean the existing boards, then stain them all to match.

Wood with Old Stain

In general it’s best to remove old stain before applying new stain, especially if changing products or colors. Old stain will usually show through the new stain, leaving blotchy spots in the finish. “Film-forming” stains must be completely removed before applying a penetrating stain. However, if you plan to stick with the same color and type of stain (and your deck is in decent condition) then you can probably get by with a thorough cleaning and a fresh maintenance coat. As always, refer to the manufacturer’s recommendations for best practices.

If there is a buildup of old stains on the deck, then you may need to remove it with something stronger than an oxygen bleach cleaner. Stain strippers are more caustic, but they remove most weathered stains in a single application. Small, stubborn spots of stain can then be removed with a hand sander once the deck has dried.


An often overlooked step for outdoor staining projects is the application of a wood brightener. These chemical agents open the woodgrain to improve penetration of the stain and help restore the appearance of weathered wood to a like-new condition. The product can simply be sprayed onto the wood surface, given a few minutes to work its “magic” and then rinsed off, requiring very little labor.

After using any chemical treatment to clean and prepare the wood, use plenty of water to completely remove all traces of the products—and then allow it to dry prior to stain or sealer application.

Applying the stain/sealer with a brush is the best way to work the product into the wood grain.

Applying the stain/sealer with a brush is the best way to work the product into the wood grain.


Always thoroughly mix the stain to evenly blend the solids and ensure a consistent color tone throughout the project.

For both horizontal and vertical structures, brushing is the best method for stain/sealer application because the bristles push the product evenly into the woodgrain to increase absorption. Using a sprayer or roller can apply the stain more quickly, but both of these methods leave much of the stain on the surface without adequate penetration into the pores. This superficial product can wear away unevenly, so you should still back-brush it into the woodgrain for the most consistent appearance and best protection.

Side Note

Restoring Outdoor Wood with Ready Seal

It’s summer time and we know you’re ready for that backyard BBQ with all of your friends. The last thing you want is an old, weather-worn deck ruining the fun. With Ready Seal’s wood stain and sealant you can spruce up your wood and give it some new life and luster. Using a single product, you can beautify your backyard landscape and protect your deck from all outdoor elements, including the scorching sun rays of summer.

readysealWhereas most wood treatments involve two applications of a stain and protector, Ready Seal offers a beautiful stain and durable seal in one easy step. Ready Seal has created the perfect blend of treatments to provide the best preservation for all outdoor wooden structures. Ready Seal stains penetrate deep into the interior fibers of the wood and create a protective boundary, unlike other stains and sealants that create rigid exterior films that lead to peeling, cracking, chipping and flaking.

The outdoor 2-in-1 product is available in 7 different shades: Natural Cedar, Golden Pine, Light Oak, Pecan, Dark Walnut, Redwood and Mahogany. It may be used to reclaim and protect your old and worn decks, fences, gazebos, outdoor furniture and any other exterior wood projects. Using a roller, paintbrush, or pump sprayer, Ready Seal is a limitless product that can be used to turn any backyard eye sore into a flawless masterpiece. Learn more at