Any unprotected piece of wood left in the outdoors will show signs of deterioration within a year or so. It’s in Nature’s character to bear down on materials that have become inanimate — and that includes pieces of lumber forming your deck or fence. In this case, sunlight and rain are her main tools. Wood exposed to sunlight out in the open turns weak and gray as the rays of the sun ruptures its internal fibers. A similar breakdown takes place when rain water soaks wood and makes it swell. The result is sponginess. Morning dew and afternoon sun then set a daily wood swell-shrink cycle in motion, hastening the deterioration process. Grayed surface, deformation, splitting, and loosened nails are telltale signs of wood trouble for which the elements are responsible.Do you want to learn more? Visit Refurbishing a Deck Cambridge, Massachusetts.
The Need To Treat Wood
Wood, even if it has been pressure-treated, must still be cleaned and sealed to prolong its life. Decks and fences made of pressure-treated wood still require regular cleaning and sealing to ensure that they stay in good condition. While decks and fences made of pressurized wood, cedar, cypress and other exotic woods are safe from insect infestation, but they are not invulnerable to weather’s corrosive effects. Wood that does not have protective coating can pose a danger in just seven years.
When is Wood Ready for Sealing?
When is the right time to seal wood? Some say that wood should be sealed after a year so that the wood is completely dry. However, a year is too long a time to wait to seal wood. During this time, the wood would have incurred too much damage, most of which cannot be reversed. Wood can be completely dry and ready for sealing in two or three months. It has been found that wood that has been sealed within three months is much more dirable and look better than wood that has been sealed after one year. You can easily tell if the wood is ready for sealing. Professionals use an electric moisture meter to determine if the wood can be sealed. However, a simpler method is to sprinkle drops of water on the surface of the wood. If the water is quickly absorbed, it means that the wood is dry enough that it is ready for sealing.
Preparing the Wood for Sealing
The process of sealing starts with preparing the wood by way of cleaning. This most important stage of caring for decks and fences should yield the following results: a) elimination of dirt, mold, mildew and algae, b) opening up of the wood’s pores, and c) balancing of its pH to allow the sealer to bond with each fiber. Pressure washing is the most common way of achieving this.
Choosing The Right Cleaning Agent
The next step is choosing the right cleaning agent, which may not be as simple as it sounds. You may have to deal first with the complexities of whether the deck and fence cleaning compound should be acidic, alkaline, or pH neutral. The do-it-yourself market offers pH-neutral and reasonably safe-to-use powdered cleaners. Most home improvement stores, on the other hand, recommend acid-based compounds because they are safer than alkalines for average homeowners to handle. They also happen to be a lot less effective. The less consumer-friendly alkaline-based cleaners, on the other hand, are much more effective. Experienced contractors, of course, know better. The most successful among them use a two-step process. They clean using an alkaline-based compound, then neutralize it using an acidic brightener. This procedure allows natural colors to “spring” out from within the wood, making the deck look great even before it is sealed. Professional-grade cleaners are obtained from industrial contractor suppliers. The products offered by home improvement retailers and hardware stores don’t measure up to these cleaners in terms of performance.