Deck staining

If your outdoor deck is on its very last legs, there may still be a way you can save it: by applying one of the new super-thick coatings that help restore, as well as refinish, weather-beaten decks.

Made to help rescue endangered surfaces of all kinds, these special coatings actually fill in and help conceal cracks and crevices up to ¼-inch deep, they come in a wide range of attractive colors, and they create a slip-resistant finish that resists future cracking and peeling — all designed to give downtrodden surfaces new life.

“It isn’t an exaggeration to call these products ‘last chance coatings,’” said Debbie Zimmer, paint and color expert at the Paint Quality Institute. “They are often a homeowner’s last chance to salvage a deck before having to replace it entirely.”

If you’re not ready (or willing) to spring for the cost of a new deck, then don’t waste time before springing into action: applying a super-thick deck coating could buy you more time and save thousands of dollars in deck replacement costs.

Assuming your deck is made of wood, start your project by carefully inspecting its condition. Replace any boards that are rotting or unstable, and sand any surface where the wood is splintered.

Next, thoroughly clean the entire deck, making sure to remove dirt, mildew, and any stains that may be present. You can do this either by power-washing the deck or by using a commercial deck cleaner.

As you might expect, super-thick deck coatings cover fewer square feet of surface than deck stains — often, only about 75 square feet or so per gallon.

For that reason, it’s wise to mix together several gallons of product in a large paint container.

That way, you’ll be sure to have consistent color on your entire deck.

Begin your application by using a synthetic-bristle brush to spot-fill nail holes and cracks in the wood. (If the openings are deep, this may take two applications.) Also use the brush to apply the coating between boards, in tight corners, and on the edges of your deck.

For the bulk of the surface, use a long-handled roller to apply a generous, even coat of the product. If your wood has hairline cracks, or if you just want to give your deck added protection, use a ½-inch-nap roller to apply an extra-thick coat. Otherwise, a ¼-inch roller may be sufficient.

Use a brush or roller and apply a slightly thinner coat to vertical surfaces.

This will help prevent a gravity-induced “sagging” effect in the appearance of the coating.

For optimum performance, it’s always wise to apply a second coat to every surface. In ideal weather conditions, some super-thick deck coatings may dry in as little as six hours, but it’s best to wait at least 24 hours before applying the second coat. Be sure to check the label for dry time and other instructions.

What if your deteriorated surface is something other than a wooden deck? Many super-thick coatings can be successfully used on everything from porches and patios to pool decks and boat docks — and, not just on wood, but also on composite surfaces, and concrete, too.

If you’re ready to see how a super-thick coating can bring new life back to your old outdoor surfaces, Zimmer offers a final tip:

“Don’t compromise on the quality of coating you buy. Instead, look for a super-thick deck coating made with 100 percent acrylic. It will adhere better and last far longer than competitive products, so by using one, you won’t be back at the same project anytime soon!”

To learn more about paints and stains, read the Paint Quality Institute blog at, or go to

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